Ukrainian military intelligence on Tuesday said Iran is planning to send more than 200 combat drones to Russian forces, including Iran’s new combat drone, the Arash-2.
Defense Intelligence of Ukraine, part of the defense ministry, said “a batch of more than 200 combat drones Shahed-136, Mohajer-6 and Arash-2 is planned to be sent from Iran to the Russian Federation at the beginning of November.”
The intelligence agency said in a post on Telegram that the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles “will be delivered via the Caspian Sea to the port of Astrakhan.”
The agency said the drones are being shipped in a disassembled state and once inside Russian territory, “they will be collected, repainted and applied with Russian markings.”
The intelligence agency did not specify how it obtained the information on the shipments and CNN cannot independently verify the details.
But it echoes reporting by CNN on Tuesday, citing officials from a western country that closely monitors Iran’s weapons program, that Iran was preparing a large shipment of drones and ballistic missiles to Russia.
Any Russian deployment of the Arash-2 drone to the war in Ukraine could put further pressure on the country’s already challenged air defenses.
Since Sept. 13, when the Russians first used attack drones against Ukraine, the country’s air defense forces say they have shot down more than 300 attack drones — but dozens have managed to strike their targets and destroy vital energy infrastructure.
Some background: CNN’s Clarissa Ward said the deployment of the Arash-2 has the potential to be a “big game changer” in the war in Ukraine as it “can carry five times the explosives of the Shahed.”
The existence of the Arash-2 was first revealed in 2019 but its precise capabilities remain unknown. The drone is named after Arash the Archer, a heroic figure from Iranian mythology who had the strongest shot with an arrow. Legend has it he fired an arrow that flew an entire morning and fell at noon over 2250 kilometers away. When Arash let his bow go, he is said to have fallen to the ground and passed away.