Iran hosts drone tournament with Russia, Belarus and Armenia

The competition will last for two weeks and aims to test the drone’s reconnaissance and gunnery-guidance capabilities.

Tehran, Iran – A military drone competition has been launched in central Iran, attended by Russia, Belarus and Armenia.

Iranian state television showed footage of a ceremony in the city of Kashan on Monday, where dozens of delegates from four countries gathered to inaugurate the competition, which was judged by members of all delegations.

The 2022 “Falcon Hunting” unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) competition, part of the seventh iteration of the broader annual military games launched by Russia in 2015, was organized by the Aerospace Department of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) where several elite forces conduct drone tests.

Ali Balali, top adviser to IRGC aerospace chief Amir Ali Hajizadeh and spokesman for the competition, said the competition will be judged on performance and consistency in aerial reconnaissance, both day and night, in addition to how UAVs can help guide precision artillery.

More than 70 participating military personnel will also undergo physical fitness and shooting tests during the competition, which will end on August 28, Balali told the state-affiliated Tasnim news website.

Balali said the games are aimed at facilitating the “exchange of experiences and military achievements” on drones, in addition to “a message of peace and friendship and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s joint cooperation with other countries in combating global terrorism.”

Iran is reportedly hosting two more categories this year, a diving competition in South Konark by the country’s military and a sniping competition in central Yazd by IRGC ground forces.

On Monday, Iran’s Defense Minister Amir Ashtiani announced that a military exhibition would begin on August 22, during which President Ibrahim Raisi and other top officials would be treated to the country’s latest “availability”.

The drone shows come months after US claims that Russia is considering buying “hundreds” of drones from Iran for use in the war in Ukraine, which Tehran has denied.

US outlet CNN reported last week that the US believes Russian officials have already held training sessions in Iran. CNN previously reported that the U.S. believed Russian officials were treated to a display of several Iranian weapons-capable drones at an airfield in Kashan.

Iran has maintained that it will do nothing to escalate the war in Ukraine, which it has said must be resolved through dialogue, but has also stopped short of condemning Russia.

Tehran and Moscow have been developing close ties since the start of the war in February, with Russian President Vladimir Putin making a rare foreign visit to Tehran in July.

Russia also built a satellite for Iran that was successfully launched into space last week from a base in Kazakhstan, prompting Western concerns that it could be used by the Kremlin in the Ukraine war.

Ukraine, meanwhile, is deploying Turkish-made bikraft UAVs and requesting the US to provide more powerful armed drones.

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