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COUNTRY OVERVIEW Past & Current UAS Actiگزارش نشریات تخصصی جهان از توسعه و پیشرفت صنعت پهپادی ایران

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

Past & Current UAS Activities in Iran

Despite the fact Iran had been using American-made Beech

MQM-107A Streaker and Northrop MQM-36 Shelduck and MQM-

74C Chukar II aerial targets for target practice since the early

1970‘s, it did not introduce UAS in a reconnaissance/ surveillance role until early 1984 at the height of the war with Iraq, when a three-man Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) team demonstrated the potential of reconnaissance UAS to a group of sceptical Pasdaran commanders. The early efforts were not very successful, but the start of Iran’s major ground offensive, Operation Kheibar, in February 1984, in the Iraqi marshlands, which amplified the country’s need for timely intelligence, boosted the UAS prospects. Soon, the IRGC team managed to gain enough interest for further development of reconnaissance and attack UAS. The era of UAS was dawning

in Iran, and from then on, it has played a major, and increasingly successful, role in collecting battlefield intelligence for Iranian military commanders.

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

Past & Current UAS Activities in Iran

Despite the fact Iran had been using American-made Beech

MQM-107A Streaker and Northrop MQM-36 Shelduck and MQM-

74C Chukar II aerial targets for target practice since the early

1970‘s, it did not introduce UAS in a reconnaissance/ surveillance role until early 1984 at the height of the war with Iraq, when a three-man Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) team demonstrated the potential of reconnaissance UAS to a group of sceptical Pasdaran commanders. The early efforts were not very successful, but the start of Iran’s major ground offensive, Operation Kheibar, in February 1984, in the Iraqi marshlands, which amplified the country’s need for timely intelligence, boosted the UAS prospects. Soon, the IRGC team managed to gain enough interest for further development of reconnaissance and attack UAS. The era of UAS was dawning

in Iran, and from then on, it has played a major, and increasingly successful, role in collecting battlefield intelligence for Iranian military commanders.

 

Figure 3:

Mohajer-1

mechanism. The Mohajer UAS were in some cases also used for artillery correction, by sending data to the ground station and showing the impact point for the line commanders.

Figure 1: Two high altitude photo taken by Mohajer surveillance UAS at the height of the Karbala-5 Operation in 1987 - Note the heavy artillery barrages

The positive wartime experience with unmanned aircraft prompted the Iranian

leaders to endorse an expanded investment in the UAS industry, initially concentrated in the IRGC’s workshops and then transferred to a new industry entity, Qods Aviation Industries. The Iran Aircraft (Initially Helicopter) Manufacturing Industries (IAMI or, as it is called in Persian, HESA) near Esfahan, which was originally set up by Bell Textron to manufacture Bell transport helicopters in Iran, was also quite active in developing

The first operational use of a UAS (called Pahpad in its Persian

abbreviation) was carried out in July 1984 over the southern border marshes, resulting in surprisingly clear battlefield pictures and up-to-date intelligence just before a planned series of land incursions into Iraqi lines. A very simple radio- controlled airplane, carrying a commercial Hasselblad camera with a 135 mm lens, overflew Iraqi positions at a height of only

50 m and brought back photos of the extensive fortifications, which led the Iranian commanders to cancel their upcoming offensive there. Up until the end of the war the unmanned aircraft – now flying at higher altitudes and taking oblique, as well as perpendicular, photographs – played an important role in supporting major offensives [Badr (March 1985), Valfajr-

8 (February 1986) and Karbala-5 (January 1987)].

The Mohajer-1 rocket-firing version – armed with up to six RPG-7 rounds – was indeed used in combat against Iraq, which can be considered the first combat application of a weaponized UAS. It could also release grenades with a simple

 

Figure 2: Mohajer-1 rocket firing version, armed with up to six RPG-7 rounds

 

and fielding its own range of UAS, named Ababil (a mystical

bird). Currently, Ababil is offered in three models: an aerial target, a long-range surveillance version equipped with INS/ GPS (both of these models have an aluminum airframe), and a fully composite UAS version. The UAS, a canard design,, is very maneuverable and has a range of 30 km, extendable to

120 km. It can climb to 10,000 ft and accelerate to 300 km/h.

There are two new Ababil UAS models: a hand-launched version and a version with jet propulsion.

Recently, the IAMI design bureau has been working on a new generation of jet powered UAS, dubbed Ababil Jet (Hadaf-1), which has been designed around the Toloue mini jet engine produced by IACI’s engine industries (TEM). It has been reverse-engineered and is currently being used on C-802/ Noor anti-ship missiles, as well as on the Ababil jet-powered

 

Figure 4: Toloue-4

mini jet engine

 

UAS and aerial targets (Hadaf-1). It can produce 3.7kN of trust with an RPM of 29,500. Toloue-4 is a three-stage axial design with a length of 1.3m. Perceived roles include aerial targets (carrying towed targets), cruise missile/fighter jet simulation for air and air defense crew practice.

As mentioned earlier, Iran’s Qods Aviation Industries inherited Iran’s UAS production. It was created to design and manufacture a variety of cost-effective vehicles made from composite materials. The production of UAS was initially under the auspices of ministry of IRGC, but merged into Defense Industry Organization in 1992. Since 1998, it has operated as part of the Aerospace Industries Organization of the Iranian Armed Forces. The first UAS to come out of Qods Aviation was the lightweight Tallash-1, which reached production before the end of the war and was used successfully in the makeshift photo reconnaissance role against Iraqi forward positions. Following the successful production and operation of the Talash-1, Qods began designing and manufacturing a range

 

radar decoy capability.

 

The private Asr-e Talai Company has introduced a 4 kg hand- launched mini UAS called Alamdar.

 

The private Farnas Company develops a low cost hand launch model called Black Eagle, a solar powered UAS and several rotary wing UAS.

 

The private Faraz Asia Technologies Company has introduced a UAS named Faraz-2. Faraz-2 is a hand-launched surveillance mini UAS with an endurance of 30 minutes and capable of transmitting real time video with two cameras up to a range of 10 km. It is back-packable and can be used for short range surveillance missions.

Figure 7: Faraz Asia Technologies Faraz II

Figure 5: Shekarchi

(Hunter)

of UAS for different missions, adding the Tallash-2 target drones to the existing version. Others in the range include the Mohajer-1, a light reconnaissance and surveillance system with a range of 30 km. The Mohajer-2 reconnaissance and surveillance UAS is a modification of the first major Iranian UAS design. Capable of speeds up to 180 km/h, it has a range of 50 km and a service ceiling of 11,000 ft. The endurance of the 85 kg aircraft is 90 minutes. The Mohajer-3 (Dorna) all- weather target, surveillance and reconnaissance UAS is similar to the Israeli Pioneer. It has a range of about 100 km, speed of 180 km/h, and endurance of two to three hours and can be launched by means of RATO, or on its own wheels. The twin-boom Mohajer-4 (Hodhod) is also a reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft. Its mission radius is 150 km, with endurance of 5 to 7 hours and a speed of about 180 km/h. Qods also develop hand-launch UAS, a jet engine model (called Mohajer-5) and a UAS called Shekarchi (Hunter).

The Saegheh-1 (Lightning) aerial target is capable of over

300 km/h, is launched by RATO and is recovered by parachute. The Saeqeh-2 aerial target is able to mimic different radar and IR emissions, incorporating GPS, a data link and limited

Figure 6: Farnas

Sabokbal - Black Eagle

The commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) recently announced the force had in its possession three different and virtually intact American and UK unmanned aircraft, which had either crashed or been shot down inside Iran. He reported that that the aircraft were under study and were being reverse-engineered. Iranian governmental protests identified one «alien» unmanned aircraft as a Shadow 200 (RQ-7), which it said crashed 37 miles inside Iran in Ilam Province at sunset on July 4, 2008. A second protest letter said that on Aug. 25, 2008 a UK Hermes-450 aircraft crashed near Khoram Abad, about 125 miles inside Iran. The capture of these aircraft caused some new developments in field of fixed wing UAS in Iran, pushing the boundaries of sensors, engines and autonomy technology in Iran.

 

A final development worth mentioning, is a new generation of unmanned aircraft with a range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), which was recently announced by the Iranian Deputy Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, who called it an

«important achievement.» The new UAS could range as far east as India and as far west as the Mediterranean, and to the south over the Arabian Peninsula and to the north over much of central Asia and the Caucasus.

 

Future Civil UAS Applications

 

The antiquated pipeline network in Iran often results in the occurrence of leakage. Damages caused by third parties also cause growing leakage in pipeline network in Iran. Perusal of the current condition of pipelines in Iran shows that prevalent methods for leak detection are not suitable and effective for today’s needs. A representative of the Iranian Offshore Engineering and Construction Company (IOEC) indicated at the UVS-Tech 2009 conference in Moscow, Russia in January

2009 that, according to their studies, aerial monitoring of the pipelines with UAS would improve Iranian pipeline network operations and would be more efficient and effective than the methods currently used. Flexibility, short response time, and more accurate leak detection were stated as some of the advantages of this method. Using UAS would result in decreasing environmental pollution, increase quick response to third party damage and enhance maintenance of pipelines

 

against corrosion by identifying potential places of corrosion. Moreover, it was stated that aerial survey by UAS can be an efficient solution for offshore inspection.

The IOEC representative furthermore stated that UAS seem to be suitable airborne platforms for the task of regular inspections of gas pipelines. According to Iranian feasibility

 

Figure 8: Oil & gas pipeline network in Iran

 

required, rotary wing UAS are being investigated. A high resolution thermal imaging system like the FLIR Photon Thermal Imaging Camera allows entire areas to be scanned and the resulting data to be displayed as pictures with areas of differing temperatures designated by differing color tones that help to identify areas of concern – both above and below the ground.

The first in the FLIR Photon Thermal Imaging Camera obtains sensitive imaging based on variant heat signatures (as seen in the photograph above). The second component is the Micro- Epsilon Laser Range Finder which helps to keep the helicopter at constant altitude above the ground while the GPS-based autopilot autonomously guides the vehicle along the pipeline route.

Figure 10: Qods

Mohajer-4

 

studies, two different scenarios for UAS-based pipeline monitoring systems are considered:

  • Small and lightweight, low-altitude UAS with a limited

sensor and weight capacity;

  • Small-size, low-altitude rotary wing UAS with a weight capacity sufficient for multi-sensor applications.

 

It was mentioned that such UAS would be operated in the uncontrolled (lower) airspace and, therefore, would require appropriate collision avoidance technology to avoid obstacles such as buildings, electrical power lines or low flying objects (balloons). For the purpose of pipeline inspection, a flight altitude of 100 m above ground level might be appropriate, which is generally below clouds. In this case, an optical/IR sensor system would be sufficient.

Figure 11: Farnas

Shahin

The standard maximum resolution is currently <=0,5m/pixel

@100m altitude above ground level. For high resolution, there is a need for terrain following in altitude. Precise mission planning with enough waypoints is a must. A solution has been proposed by offering an onboard application, which includes a microprocessor-board which takes the (GPS- referenced) picture samples (Photon IR & standard video in parallel). The pictures would be stored   on an onboard standard compact flash 8-32 Giga Byte. The pictures could then be downloaded after the flight and be processed by an additional application to one big composite picture. There are further possibilities to highlight leakages by additional picture processing algorithms (e.g. colouring leakages in red). Hand- launch, autonomous flight, and autonomous landing are considered necessary to lower personnel training needs.

The IOEC representative further indicated that for a point survey in a specified location that early survey shows has potential of leakage, or on locations where higher resolution imagery is

Figure 13:

Tadbirgaran

Tadbir-Balzan

Figure 12: Qods

Mohajer-2

Figure 9:

Aerial thermal imaging of buried oil pipeline with

sub-surface contamination caused by a leak

See additional photos on following page.

Farnaz

Mohajer-2

Farnaz

Ghasedak

Farnaz

Nazer

Farnaz

Mohajer-2

Farnaz

Nazer

Farnaz

Orooj

Farnaz

Shaheen

Farnaz

Shaheen

HESA

Ababil

Hand-launched UAS

Farnaz

Mohajer-1

HESA Ababil


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