On the occasion of Iran’s 18 April National Army Day, soldiers from the Iranian Armed Forces’ ground, naval, air, and special units marched in front of the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the 1979 revolution’s leader, in the capital Tehran, with the involvement of high-ranking military officials. Iranian President Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi, Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri, Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani, Commander-in-Chief of the Iranian Army Major General Sayyed Abdolrahim Mousavi, Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Major General Hossein Salami, and a number of other military commanders were present at the ceremony.
New weapons for Iran’s ground, air, and naval forces were displayed in a military parade celebrating the country’s national Army Day. The most notable of these was Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industries’ (HESA) new “Ababil-5” UAV system. The Ababil-5 is the most recent addition to the Ababil family, having been designed by Ghods Aviation Industries and mass produced by Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industries. Although no technical details about the new UAV are known, the new UAV appears to be structurally similar to the Mohajer-6 UAV developed by Ghods Aviation Industries and the Seeker UAV produced by South African Denel Dynamics. However, the Ababil-5 appears to be much larger than these vehicles. At the event, Ababil seemed to be carrying six Almas ATGMs with an 8-kilometer range, although it is also capable of carrying Ghaem-5 PGMs. The new UAV also looks to have a slightly tilted downward-facing, gimbaled electro-optical camera, similar to the Ababil-3 or Ababil-4.
Among the military vehicles displayed for the first time during the ceremony another UAV, the multi-purpose “Kaman-22”, produced by the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force. The Kaman-22, an improved variant of the Kaman-12 UAV unveiled in 2020, resembles General Atomics’ MQ-9 Reaper and China’s Wing Loong drone in appearance. The wide-body UAV, which has a flight time of more than 24 hours and a range of more than 3,000 kilometers and can fly up to an altitude of 8,000 meters, according to information provided by the Iranian news agency Mehr News. The Kaman-22 can be utilized in precise strike operations with smart munitions, as well as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, thanks to its capacity to carry a payload of up to 300 kg and the mounting stations under the wings and fuselage.
With the exception of Ababil 5 and Kaman-22, more than 50 UAVs were displayed during the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Army Day parade, including Iranian Army suicide drones. The Mohajer-6, Mohajer-4, Mohajer-2, Raad-85, Arash, Ababil-4, Yasir, Karrar, Nasser, Kian-1, Kian-2, Omid, Kaman-12, and Shahed type drones were also among those present for the ceremony. Iran’s domestically developed Kowsar and Saeqeh aircraft also performed at a demonstration during the ceremony.
President Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi stated during the ceremony that the Armed Forces and the Revolutionary Guards are two formidable institutions, adding, “the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Armed Forces wield enormous power. Today, our military might is discussed not only in the region but also around the world.” Noting that the army has become stronger by using the opportunities created by the sanctions, President Raisi added that even the smallest movement of the Israeli regime is monitored by the Iranian Armed Forces and security institutions. “If you take the smallest action against our people, the target of our Armed Forces will be the Israeli regime’s capital,” President Raisi said.
Iran has increased its drone attacks against Israel in recent years, using terrorist proxies such as the Houthi and Hezbollah in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. At every opportunity, Israel has stated that the use of armed drones, developed by Iran as part of the UAV program, against numerous targets in the Persian Gulf and Israel has become a severe security issue, and that it is investing heavily to counter this threat. Last month, Israel began deploying the Sky Dew (Tal Shamayim) radar system, one of the world’s largest aerostats, to monitor and capture UAVs. Israel also began developing the Drone Dome, a system created by Rafael as part of the Iron Dome air defense system, and the High Power Laser System known as “Iron Beam” as a precaution.