Air Defense: Israeli Air Defenses Foil Iranian Plans


September 11, 2023: Iran recently announced it had developed a new long range UAV called Mohajer-10. This comes two years after the similar but smaller Mohajer-6 was offered for export. Mojaher-6 entered service in 2017 and an upgraded model entered service in 2021. Mojaher-6 weighs 670 kg (1,477 pounds) with a payload of 150 kg and max endurance of 12 hours. Max ceiling is 5,600 meters (18,000 feet) and cruise speed is 130 kilometers an hour. Max operator controlled range is 500 kilometers from a GSC (Ground Control Station). On a one way mission (as a cruise missile) max range is 2,400 kilometers with a 100 kg payload. This is not a large enough payload to do much damage to the target. That’s one reason the larger Mohajer-10 was introduced in 2023. This version can carry a 300 kg explosive payload on a one way cruise missile mission to targets over 2,000 kilometers away.

Iran pointed out that this puts the Israeli nuclear reactor near Dimona as well as several other Israeli cities and military bases. Not mentioned was the fact that Israeli air defenses have long been capable of detecting and destroying such attacks. Iran has been trying to fly smaller surveillance UAVs from southern Lebanon into Israel without success. A larger Mohajer-10 coming from Iran to hit Dimona in southeast Israel has to get past Israeli air defenses built to stop attacks by aircraft and ballistic missiles. These defenses failed earlier to stop a Syrian anti-aircraft missile that missed its target and kept flying for another 200 kilometers until it exploded in the air near Dimona. The Dimona air defenses failed to intercept the missile, which exploded in the air as anti-aircraft missiles are designed to do when they miss. This incident led to the Dimona air defenses being upgraded. The 2021 era air defenses probably would have destroyed a slower UAV, but Israel was taking no chances when it upgraded those air defenses. Iran claims Mohajer-10 is equipped with countermeasures to defeat air defenses but those have never been tested against Israeli air defenses. A UAV attack against the Dimona reactor or an Israeli city would trigger retaliation whether it succeeded or not. The Israelis have ballistic missiles carrying conventional warheads that can reach Iranian targets and Iran does not want to see how effective those would be against Iranian air defenses.

The Mohajer-6 has been in use since 2017 against Kurdish separatists and Syrian rebels, is thus “combat tested” and that is used to attract export customers. Mohajer-10 has not been offered for export yet and if it was it would be more expensive than Mohajer-6 because of the longer range and larger explosive payload.

Iran has long been an exporter of weapons, usually cheaper versions of Chinese and Russian assault rifles, mortars and RPGs. Iran has long had a trading relationship with North Korea in ballistic missile technology. Both nations are banned from exporting that sort of thing but desperation will find a way.




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