Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Arkenstone Can Now be Read at ...

...  Monitor Mideast.com

The website "Monitor Mideast" now offers selected postings from the Arkenstone, a move which is aimed at providing a military angle on general Middle East news and developments. Hopefully The Arkenstone will gain further exposure, bringing more readers to the site.

"Monitor Mideast", in their own words, describe themselves:


"Monitormideast.com or Monitor Mideast is a collective effort by ambitious student friends aiming to improve the understanding of mass media from a volatile and misunderstood region. The website attempts to reach the outside world by translating and writing all material into the current lingua franca, giving the general public an indepth look into news and television from Middle Eastern countries on a wide variety of subjects such as politics, sport, religion, culture and entertainment. Monitor Mideast differs from traditional media because of its unique multimedia edge transcending language barriers written by people from the region. MonitorMideast.com is a fully independent initiative with no editorial influence from government, corporation or interest groups.

The scope of specialization lies in our ability to create and cover various forms of (Middle East and North-African) media. Resources of coverage include in-house recording capabilities from Badr C2/3/4, Arabsat 2B/2C/3A, Hot Bird 2/6/7A/8 and Nilesat.

The Op-Ed section (under Publications) are articles written by columnists who are not employed directly by Monitor Mideast. MonitorMideast.com is not responsible for the statements made in the Publications section. Articles are screened for editorial standards though not subject to censorship.

Our website fully distances itself from promoting terrorism, hate speech, extremism, racism by translating the various television broadcasts. Selecting media segments are done on the basis of public interest probability, sensationalism and educational substance."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Developments in the Use of TBMs as Anti-Ship Weapons

Developments in the Use of TBMs as Anti-Ship Weapons

Earlier I explored the viability of Iran using a wide range of artillery rockets (MLRS), tactical ballistic missiles (TBM) and ballistic missiles proper (BM) as potential anti-ship weapons to supplement their usual cruise-missile type weapons and I concluded that while the use of cluster munitions might be useful against aircraft-carriers, the available generations of missiles didn't present a significant threat against most warships. (1) One feature I did feel was important in terms of long-term significance however was the similarity found between Chinese and Iranian anti-ship technology development.

Khalij Fars anti-ship missile (Fars News)
Fast-forward to February 2011 and Ali Jafari, Commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), announced that the force was now producing "smart ballistic missiles" (2) The announcement was accompanied by video and photographic evidence of the missile, pointedly named the"Khalij Fars" (Persian Gulf), being launched, and of it striking its target.

The missile itself is clearly based on the Fateh-110. The timing as well as the actual photographic evidence of the impact (a rarity among Iran's various missile announcements) suggests it's closely linked to the 3rd generation of the missile shown in August 2010.While it is a much smaller missile, similarities can be drawn to specific variants of the Chinese DF-21 ballistic missile which is has been touted as a "carrier-killer".

However, one curiosity is the reported specifications. It is reported as having a 300 km range which matches the previously announced range for the 3rd-generation Fatah-110. Also reported is a 650 kg warhead which represents a 31% increase in size versus the 1st generation of the Fatah-110 (450 kg). Future generations are set to have a longer range. (3) Unfortunately the warhead size/weight of the 3rd-generation model is unknown. One explanation is simple disinformation, another is a change in fuel composition and a subsequent increase in efficiency.

Known Specifications:
Length: 8.76 m
Diameter: 616 mm
Max Range: 300 km
Warhead: 650 kg

It was previously postulated that the Fateh-110 had a separating warhead which would have made the missile more accurate and harder to intercept. However, both the video and still images show the full missile impacting the target ship.
Selected screen captures showing the missile striking the floating target (Fars News)

The most significant unknown surrounds the method of terminal guidance. In fact, the only physical difference between the Fateh-110 and the Khalij Fars can be found in the nose of the missile, the latter exchanging the former's sharp point for a rounded nose. The lone high-quality image of it available from Fars News does not provide any definitive answers. While there does not appear to be an electro-optical seeker, contour blending and specific photography angles could easily obscure it. If an optical device, it would either use basic contrast measuring, such as on early TV-guided air-to-ground missiles, or the more advanced scene-matching correlators which aligns the displayed result with previously stored imaging. The Russian SS-26 Iskander-E is an example of a ballistic missile which uses an image correlator to give a remarkable CEP of 5-7 m. (4). The other alternative is some kind of radar seeker which essentially function the same as the optical correlator, but with radar instead of visual waves. The Chinese DF-11 is an example of a ballistic missile that uses an radar for terminal guidance to give it a CEP of 500-600 m (the DF-11A uses an image correlator which improves the CEP to 200 m) (5) It is worth mentioning that the target during the test was static while real world targets are much more likely to be maneuvering. This doesn't rule out the possibility of success as the terminal phase seeker could still track the target, whether it's moving or not, it just makes it harder.

The number one concern is, of course, accuracy, can it hit a warship? Video, as well as circumstantial evidence suggest the the 750 m CEP of the original Fateh-110 has been substantially improved upon as videos of the missile striking a naval target have been published. There are however several unknowns, including at what range the missile was fired at, the number of shots it took to get one that actually hit the target, and the degree to which the testing was pre-planned or actually represented battlefield conditions. One solution might be to look to comparable missiles across the globe.

While the use of submunitions has not been suggested, with the missile during the test carrying a unitary warhead, given the focus of the previous piece on this blog, it bears examining the possibility that they are carried by the Khalij Fars. 

Following the same steps as before, we can deduce that:

Submunition Warhead
Total Weight: 650 kg
Payload: 1,083 .45 kg bomblets
Threatened Area: 126, 426 sqm
Lethal Radius: 200 m

It bears repeating that this is only a thought experiment as to what would be possible if it carried submunitions.

The unveiling of the Khalij Fars is a significant development for naval-warfare analysts studying Iran because it concretely indicates that Iran is pursuing an anti-ship ballistic missile at least superficially similar to the DF-21. While before, Safavi's obtuse comment about the Shahab-3 as well as the use of the Fajr-3/5 rockets alongside AShMs indicated this might be the case, this development confirms it. While the Iranian missile isn't in the class of the DF-21, that's only because it's an early model (longer range models are said to be in development) and more adequately fits the needs of Iran, namely a smaller, cheaper, quick-reaction missile that threatens close to the entirety of the Persian Gulf.

(1) "Artillery Rockets and Ballistic Missiles as Anti-Ship Weapons". The Arkenstone. 01/16/11 http://thearkenstone.blogspot.com/2011/01/artillery-rockets-and-ballistic.html
(2) "Commander: IRGC Mass-Producing Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles". Fars News. 02/07/11 http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8911181179
(3) "خليج فارس " جديدترين موشك بالستيك و مافوق صوت سپاه عليه اهداف دريايي". Fars News. 02/07/11 http://www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8911181067
(4) ROSOBORONEXPORT Export Catalogue. http://www.roe.ru/cataloque/land_for/land_for_40-43.pdf
(5) "DongFeng 11 (CSS-7) Short-Range Ballistic Missile" Sino Defence. http://www.sinodefence.com/strategic/missile/df11.asp

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Farnas Aerospace Co. UAVs

Farnas Aerospace Co. UAVs

Note to all readers: Blogger has an interesting feature where it displays statistics for this blog including page views, common search terms, etc. This is interesting to me because this article is the 2nd most popular this month with 148 pageviews.

This is somewhat confounding since I didn't expect this much interest in a relatively minor article (compared to the other, much more well known UAVs like the Mohajer and the Ababil for instance). So my question is to the reader - why so much interest?

Note that while the Farnas Aerospace Co. makes several different types of UAVs, they will all be covered here  rather then given their own sections due to the fact that Farnas is a private corporation, compared to the state-owned Qods Aviation Industry and HESA. Also, all their products are relatively minor compared to UAVs like the Ababil or Mohajer. 

Black Eagle
The Black Eagle is a micro-weight hand-launched UAV. (1)

Maximum Speed: 60 km/h
Endurance: 30 min
MTOW: 2.75 kg
Payload Weight: .5 kg
Black Eagle (UAS Yearbook)

The Shahin family are a series of micro-light, rotary-wing, VTOL UAVs. (2) News reports seem to indicate that they are entering production at Farnas's factor in the Mazandaran Province in Northern Iran between May and June 2009, however due to the always vague nature of the official announcements, it cannot be confirmed. (3) (4)

Specifications: Shahin-1 (5)
Maximum Speed: 50 km/h
Endurance: 2 hr
MTOW: 5.8 kg

Specifications: Shahin-2 (6)
Maximum Speed: 50 km/h
Endurance: 3 hr
MTOW: 12 kg

Specifications: Shahin-8 (7)
Maximum Speed: 60 km/h
Endurance: 3 hr
MTOW: 19 kg
Various members of the Shahin UAV family - specific model designations unknown (UAS Yearbook)

The Orooj (meaning Zenith) family of is Farnas's entry into the world of high-altitude-long-endurance (HALE) UAVs. Because they are solar powered, they don't resemble traditional UAVs, instead opting for an extremely delicate and lightweight frame with extremely large wings and electric motors.

Development of the Orooj-1 began in 2003, with its first flight in 2004. (8) It has little apparent practical value beyond a technology demonstration.

Specifications: Orooj-1 (9)
Wingspan: 4.5 m
Range: 350 km
Orooj-1 (UAS Yearbook)

The Orooj-4 (10) on the other hand, represents a significant leap in capability with regards to high-endurance battlefield surveillance. Significantly larger, the Orooj-4 is said to resemble the NASA "...Pathfinder with gondolas and a Global Hawk-shaped payload compartment..." Another significant feature found in the Orooj-4 is the addition of a fully autonomous autopilot.

Specifications: Orooj-4
Length: 6 m
Wingspan: 22 m
MTOW: 100 kg
Payload Weight: 30 kg
Cruising Speed: 40 km/h
Cruising Ceiling: 9.1 km
Maximum Ceiling: 18.3 km

Range: 1,000 km
Endurance: 12-32 hr
Powerplant: Solar/Electric

(1)"UAS: The Global Perspective." 2009/2010 UAS Yearbook. 7th Edition. Blyenburgh & Co, 2009.
(2) ibd UAS Yearbook, 2009
(3) "Iranian Defense Ministry Produces New Combat Choppers". Fars News. 05/01/10 http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8902111218
(4) "Commander: UAV Battalions to Be Formed in All Air Force Bases". Fars News. 06/08/10 http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8903181387
(8) Devlin, Liam. "Iran Seeks Technology Boost From Western UAVs" Unmanned Vehicles. May 2007. Accessed Online.
(9) ibd Devlin, May 2007
(10) ibd Devlin, May 2007

Karrar UAV

Karrar UCAV

The HESA Karrar UCAV is a jet-powered attack drone, the first real example of its kind of it developed by Iran. While It was first unveiled during Government Week 2010 in a ceremony attended by President Ahmadinejad, it had been in development since 2003, with a scale model displayed in 2004. (1) It is possibly connected with the Ababil Jet project. It is not however, readily connected to any South African designs as some allege. The two drones bear a skin-deep superficial resemblance, however at 2nd glance the resemblance disappears when the key differences in engine position and wing configuration become apparent.

The Karrar features an aerodynamic cigarette shaped fuselage with small, swept wings mounted low on the fuselage. At the rear, mounted high on the fuselage is the horizontal tailplane with wingtip fences on either side. Control surfaces are found on the main wing and the horizontal tailplane.
Karrar during Sacred Defense Week 2010 - Note the centerline mk. 82 (Fars News)

It is powered by a variant of the Toloue turbojet engine. Whether it is the Toloue-4 which powers the Noor cruise missile, with 3.7 kn of thrust, or the throttleable Toloue-5 with 4.4 kn of thrust, is unclear, though it would make much more sense for it to be the latter.

The Karrar is launched via RATO in the same manner as Iran's other UAVs. Recovery is a combination air-bag / parachute system. (2) 
Karrar being launched with rocket-assisted-take-off (RATO) (Borna News)

Due to its long range and lack of optical sensors, some kind of INS/GPS-guided autopilot is a necessity, which the Karrar is reported to have. The system in question is unnamed (unlike the package on the Ababil for instance) but is full-spectrum in the sense that it controls the Karrar all the way from launch all the way through attacking the target and returning for recovery. It's also reported that the Karrar had terrain following capability, which lends at least some credence to the 'stealth' claims; even if the aircraft itself isn't explicitly stealthy. (3)

As far as armament go, the Karrar can carry either a single mk 82 bomb on a centerline rack, two mk 81 bombs on racks under each wing,  and two Kowsar AShMs also under the wing. It has also been reported that they can carry four guided missiles of an unknown type. While it is pure speculation at this point, one possibility, given that they share the same guidance as the Kowsar, is the Sadid-1 which was shown alongside the Shahed 285C at the Kish Air Expo in 2010. At any rate, the maximum external payload appears to hover around 240 kg. Another candidate is in the form of MANPADS-type missiles for the supposed anti-air model. (4) The scale model displayed in 2004 was carrying decoy pods similar to those carried by the MQM-107 also operated by Iran, indicating it could serve as a reusable target drone in much the same manner.
Karrar armed with two Kowsar AShM (IRIB)

While specific variants of the Karrar have not yet materialized, the UCAV appears to be fairly modular, allowing for different loadouts depending on the role. The most commonly seen model is the long-range strike version. There also exists a model with a more aerodynamic nose which some have suggested is a cruise missile. It's a reasonable guess that the anti-shipping model carries some form of radar. Another, air defense / air intercept model is also reported to exist which would indicate that it must carry some form of targeting for any on-board missiles. In these two cases, its possible for the Karrar to operate with 3rd part targeting, but it wouldn't be optimal. Optical surveillance capability is also reported which clearly doesn't exist in the current in the current incarnation, but could easily be swapped in with another payload container.
Postulated cruise-missile version of the Karrar (IRIB)

Length: 5.5 m (est)
Wingspan: 3.5 m (est)
Height: NA
Empty Weight: NA
Maximum Speed:900 km/h
Endurance: NA
Combat Radius: 300 km
Ferry Range: 1000 km
Ceiling: 6-7 km (est)
Powerplant: Toloue-4/5
Payload: See text

The Karrar was puzzling to many who were expecting a more traditional UCAV design more along the lines of something like the Predator. While the Predator (and others) are designed for loitering close-air support (CAS) over low-intensity battlefields like Iraq where one has air-supremacy, the Karrar is designed to fill the role of battlefield air interdiction (BAI) in an environment where they are unlikely to have air supremacy.

Rather, it's clear the Karrar is intended to function as a kind of low-cost, reusable cruise missile. It's launch configuration is designed to require minimal infrastructure such as an airbase. Like their stock of tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs), the Karrar works to offset the widening disparity in airpower that exists for Iran, giving them some form of reliable offensive power that doesn't depend on their ability to keep the IRIAF flying. It's payload might seem inadequate, it's important to remember they're intended to be used in mass numbers, Vahidi himself specifically mentioned that they would operate like a swarm of poisonous bees. (5)

This is apparent in the physical design of the Karrar itself. First off, it's jet powered which favors speed and power over fuel efficiency. Meanwhile, it's wings are short and aggressively swept, a design ill-suited to long, lazy flights over a battlefield, and it's lack of cameras and focus on an advanced autopilot means that it's not overly designed for a hands-on surveillance role like traditional UCAV designs.  

(1) - (5) Iran Military Forum "Celebration of bombers jet Karrar"http://www.iranmilitaryforum.net/index.php?topic=5257.0

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lark UAV

Lark UAV
The Lark was designed and built by the South African firm Kentron during the late '80s/early '90s; Iran attained at least one copy of the defense suppression drone, possibly during the energy negotiations in the mid '90s, or perhaps in 2004 following the signing of a defense MoU. It is not known if Iran is copying the model, or was simply using it to study for applications in Iran's own UAV industry. It is also known as the Shekarchi, which means Hunter. (1) As of ~2006/2007, the Shekarchi project, headed by Qods Aviation Industry, had progressed 70% through the development cycle. (2) It is alternately known as the Chamran 2.

The Lark features a blended delta wing design with four large vertical control surfaces on the leading edge of the wing. The front of the fuselage houses an anti-radiation seeker that operates in the 2-18 GHz range as well as a 20 kg warhead. It is launched via RATO and has a parachute/airbag recovery system. (3)

Length: 2.43 m  
Wingspan: 2.10 m  
Height: .55 m 
Empty Weight: 
MTOW: 120 kg  
Cruise Speed: 210 km/h 
Endurance: 4 hr  
Range: 100 km  
Ceiling: 4.57 km 
Powerplant: 38 hp UEL AR 731
Payload: 20 kg HE-FRAG 

Lark on parade in 2006 (Mehr News)

(1) "UAS: The Global Perspective." 2009/2010 UAS Yearbook. 7th Edition. Blyenburgh & Co, 2009.
(2) Unknown industry poster. Attained via forum member "M-ATF".
(3) UAV Center. "South Africa" http://www.uavcenter.com/english/wwuavs/africa/southafrica.asp

Saeqeh UAV

Saeqeh UAV
Meaning "Lightning Bolt", the Saeqeh is a basic target drone and comes in two variants manufactured by Qods industries. (1) It is alternately known as the N-Q-A 100.
Saeqeh during Blow of Zolfaqar Wargames in 2006 (Mehr News)

Both variants share the same design featuring narrow, pointed fuselage with a large cropped delta wing and a single tailplane. Like the Ababil, control surfaces are found on horizontal surfaces, but not on the vertical tailplane.

It uses the same WAE-342 pusher engine as the Ababil.

Launch is via RATO or pneumatic launcher and can be recovered via parachute. (2)

Some models carry a static, forward facing camera in the nose, similar to the models carried by the Mohajer-2/4. This cannot positively be identified as a unique feature of the Saeqeh-2 versus the Saeqeh-1. 
Forward facing camera on the Saeqeh visible (Pana.ir)


The most basic of target drones, the Saeqeh-1 only has basic radio control. (3)

Nearly physically identical to the earlier model, the Saeqeh-2 first flew in 2002 alongside the Mohajer-4 (4)

In a step-up from basic radio control, the Saeqeh-2 now has GPS guidance. It can also mimic different radar and IR emissions allowing it to serve as a decoy both defensively and offensively for penetrating an enemies air defenses. (5)

Saeqeh-2 (6) (7)
Length: 2.81 m 
Wingspan: 2.60 m
Height: NA
Empty Weight: NA
MTOW: 60 kg 
Payload Weight: NA
Cruise Speed: 250 km/h 
Endurance: 45 min 
Range: 50 km 
Ceiling:  3.35 km
Powerplant: 25 hp WAE-342
Payload: NA

(1)Devlin, Liam. "Iran Expands UAV Capability." Unmanned Vehicles. December 2006 - January 2007. Accessed Online.
(2) Ministry of Defense Logistics and Export (MODLEX). "Saeqeh" http://modlexcentre.com/new/saeghe.php
(3) ibd MODLEX
(4) "Mohajer" Global Security. 10-07-2008 http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iran/mohajer.htm
(5) ibd Devlin, 2007
(6) ibd MODLEX
(7) Photographer Mohammad Hussein photo collection during Sacred Defense Week 2010

Mohajer UAV

Mohajer UAV
The Mohajer family of reconnaissance and surveillance UAVs emerged during the later stages of the Iran-Iraq war as improvised UAVs but have since evolved. Mohajer means "Migrant". Early model Mohajers were some of the first ever use of UCAVs in combat (1) 253 Mohajers have been produced by the Qods Aviation Industry as of ~2006-2007. (2)

Early-model Mohajers feature the same basic design with a cigarette shaped fuselage with wings mounted at the high fuselage point and slightly to the rear. The wings themselves have a constant chord. Only the Mohajer-4 differs in this regard. All models have a joined double tail-boom. Control surfaces are found on the main wings as well as the tailplanes. Most models are fitted with landing skids.

The Mohajer family uses an unknown powerplant.

The Mohajer can be launched from the usual range of JATO/RATO/Pneumatic launch ramps usually associated with Iran's other UAVs, except perhaps the shortest. Recovery is either conventional landing via skids or by parachute.

Aside from this, all of the different members of the Mohajer family are fairly unique and as such, other design features shall be addressed under the variants respective entries below.


The Mohajer-1 saw action during the later stages of the Iran-Iraq war where it was launched from speedboats to provide battlefield surveillance for Iranian offensives. Unlike later Mohajers, it featured a tricycle landing gear which would theoretically give it a conventional take-off capability. It had a range of 30 km while it's payload included a static nose mounted camera and up to six PG-7 rockets (three under each wing). (3)
Mohajer-1 during the Iran-Iraq war (Unknown)

The Mohajer-2 shares the same basic design as the Mohajer-1, but adds what can only be explained as carry handles have been mounted on either side of the fuselage just forward and below the leading edge of the wing. The wheels meanwhile have been replaced with skids.

It is powered by an unknown 25 hp engine. One possible canidate is the WAE-342 which is also used on the Ababil UAV. (4)

One large increase in capability compared to the Mohajer-1 comes in the addition of an auto-pilot with a real-time data uplink/downlink. (5)

Mohajer-2 (Borna News)
Mounted in the front of the fuselage is a new payload bay which can carries a traversable mount for TV or FLIR cameras. Also carried is a line-scanner which is advertised as being able to provide 1-meter resolution at an altitude of 5 km. Some models also have a static, forward facing camera mounted in the front of the fuselage (6)

Also known as the "Dorna", the Mohajer-2 is reported to have wheels, rather then skids which gives it a conventional launch capability.(7) It is reported to have 80% autonomous capability (8)

Also known as the Hodhod, the Mohajer-4 departs radically from previous designs featuring a larger box-like fuselage compared to the cigarette shape of earlier generations. The wings are now tapered with a upward cranked tip. Meanwhile, the static skids of the Mohajer-2 have been replaced with flexible skids in a tricycle configuration. It also features composite construction. (9)

The Mohajer-4 was reported to have been first tested in February 2002 alongside the Saeqeh target drone. (10) As of ~2006-2007, the development of the Mohajer-4B as 95% complete. However, further concrete information is available concerning this sub-variant. (11)

At least two types of engines appear to be in use, though the exact designations are unknown.

The Mohajer-4 appears to use the same TV/FLIR payload as the Mohajer-2. Another similarity between the two models can be found in the presence of a static, forward-facing camera in the nose of some models of the Mohajer-4 as well.
Mohajer-4 (Mehr News)

Little is known about this model and no operational prototypes have ever been seen. It is reported to be jet-powered. (12) As of ~2006, the research phase of the project was 19% completed. (13)


Mohajer-2 (14) (15)
Length: 2.9 m
Wingspan: 3.8 m
Height: NA
Empty Weight: 70 kg
MTOW: 85 kg
Payload Weight: NA
Cruise Speed: 200 km/h
Endurance: 1.5 hr
Range: 50-150 km
Ceiling: 4.82 km
Powerplant: NA
Payload: TV/FLIR camera, line-scanner

Mohajer-3 (16)

Length: NA
Wingspan: NA
Height: NA
Empty Weight: NA
Payload Weight: NA
Cruise Speed: 180 km/h
Endurance: 2-3 hr
Range: 100 km
Ceiling: NA
Powerplant: NA

Payload: NA

Mohajer-4 (17)

Length: 3.74 km
Wingspan: 5.3 m
Height: NA
Empty Weight: NA
MTOW: 210 kg
Payload Weight: NA
Cruise Speed: 200 km/h
Endurance: 3 hr
Range: 150 km
Ceiling: 4.57 km
Powerplant: NA


(1)Devlin, Liam. "Iran Expands UAV Capability." Unmanned Vehicles. December 2006 - January 2007. Accessed Online.
(2) Unknown industry poster. Attained via forum member "M-ATF".
(3) ibd Devlin, 2007
(4) VPK News. Unknown Article concerning the Kish 2005 airshow. Accessed via Google Translate: http://www.waronline.org/forum/viewtopic.php?printertopic=1&t=10063&postdays=0&postorder=as%20c&&start=25&sid=c3f7ef871c6097a2ae06c7d5275f7c39
(5) ibd Devlin, 2007
(6) Ministry of Defense Logistics and Export. Mohajer-2. http://modlexcentre.com/new/mohajer.php 
(7) ibd Devlin, 2007
(8) Devlin, Liam. "Iran Seeks Technology Boost From Western UAVs" Unmanned Vehicles. May 2007. Accessed Online.
(9) ibd Devlin, 2007
(10) "Mohajer" Global Security. 10-07-2008 http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iran/mohajer.htm
(11) ibd M-ATF
(12) "UAS: The Global Perspective." 2009/2010 UAS Yearbook. 7th Edition. Blyenburgh & Co, 2009.
(13) ibd M-ATF
(14) ibd VPK News
(15) ibd Modlex
(16) ibd Devlin, 2007
(17) Discussion on Iran Military Forum. http://www.iranmilitaryforum.net/index.php?topic=874.msg62659;topicseen#msg62659

Ababil UAV

Ababil UAV

The Ababil, meaning "Swallow", was developed by HESA (Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company / IAMI) in 1986 to expand Iran's reconnaissance and intelligence capability during their war with Iraq. (1) 369 Ababils have been produced as of ~2006-2007. (2)

Design: (3)
The basic design of the Ababil features a slender cigarette shaped fuselage with canards mounted on the upper fuselage while the primary cropped-delta wings are mounted on the lower fuselage at the rear of the airframe. Depending on the model, the Ababil has either a single or dual tailplane. Control surfaces are located on all horizontal wings, but are absent on the tailplane.Construction was originally of aluminum, though recent models are now made of composite materials.

It is powered by a single two-stroke WAE-342 engine which turns a pusher-style prop, though an alternate engine is also advertised, the slightly more powerful Vanckle P73.

The Ababil is launched from the usual range of truck-mounted or towed launch trailers using either pneumatic or RATO boosters while recovery is via parachute or skids.
Ababil Launch Platforms (Various)

The Ababil is controlled through the usual range of radio telemetry, though for longer ranges it is fitted with the "Shahid Norouzi" autopilot system. This package is full-spectrum in the sense that it can control every aspect of the drones flight, from launch to recovery. The primary feature of the autopilot is the use of INS/GPS to extend the range of the UAV beyond the limits of conventional communication means, up to 60 km under normal circumstances, and up to 120 km if the transmitter power is boosted.It is unknown whether real-time data uplink/downlink is part of this system, allowing full use of the UAV's surveillance capability.
Ababil Ground Control Post (Iran Military Forum)

Depending on the variant, the Ababil can carry a range of day or night-time surveillance equipment, mounted either in the nose or in an under-fuselage mount. In the attack role, they can carry 40 kg of explosives. As a target drone, it can carry flares or radar reflectors. All models can carry a miss distance indicator (MDI).
Unknown Surveillance Variant (Fars News)

There are quite a few rumored versions that exist or may have existed at any given time. One very real possibility is that several of designations in fact relate to a single design, or slight variations of a single design.

Features a single tail and is most likely a target drone model due to the lack of surveillance equipment.
Ababil-2 at 2010 Kish Airshow (Kish Trade Promotion Center)

Reported to have been shot down by a US F-16 in Iraq in February 2009. Designation may simply be due to inexperienced staff writers rather then an actual positive ID. (4) Possibly the "base" model.

Reported to be a medium range reconnaissance variant. (5) Intuitively, the extended range would logically mean a model fitted with the Shahid Norouzi autopilot. No further details.

Reported to be a short/medium range attack variant. (6) This is the twin-tailed model which can be fitted with a 40 kg warhead. Possible secondary reconnaissance capability with payload under the fuselage. Used by Hezbollah during several flights into northern Israel in 2004, 2005, and 2006(7)
Remains of a downed Hezbollah Ababil-T During their 2006 War with Israel (HNN)

Twin tailed model used by Iran as a target drone. The twin tails, in addition to providing greater stability, have the benefit of increasing radar cross-section which can be seen as a benefit in target drones.(8)
Ababil-CH (Mehr News)

Reported to be the base surveillance version with EO payload mounted in the nose.(9)

Reported to be a newer, advanced surveillance variant.(10)

Target drone model(11)

Ababil Jet / Hadaf-1
The Hadaf-1 is a development of the Ababil platform, but powered by the Toloue-4 jet engine instead of a propeller. Postulated roles include advanced air-defense training, reconnaissance and strike roles. As of 2007, the Hadaf-1 had completed parachute tests and was still under development (12) It is possible, this project evolved into the Karrar (separate entry).

Base Model* (13)
Length: 2.88 m
Wingspan: 3.25 m

Height: .90 m
Empty Weight: ~30 kg (estimated)
MTOW: 84 kg
Payload Weight: 40 kg 
Cruise Speed: 300 km/h
Endurance: 1.5+ hr
Ceiling: 2.5 km - 3.0 km (with WAE-342) OR 4.5 km - 5.2 km (with Vanckle P73) 
Powerplant: 25 hp WAE-342 OR 30 hp Vanckle P73
Payload: Varies my model, see text.

Ababil Jet / Hadaf-1 (Provisional) (14)
Cruise Speed: 700-800 km/h
Ceiling: 7.6
Range: 700
Powerplant: Toloue-4

*Note: It is unclear exactly which model these specifications are in reference to. However, it can be assumed that it is reference to the most-commonly seen single tail-plane model.

Devlin, Liam. "Iran Expands UAV Capability." Unmanned Vehicles. December 2006 - January 2007. Accessed Online.
(2) Unknown industry poster. Attained via forum member "M-ATF".
(3) ibd Devlin, 2007
(4)Hodge, Nathan. "U.S. Military Confirms It Shot Down Iranian Drone." Danger Room. Wired, March 16th 2009. Web. 
(5) "Ababil." Global Security. 10-07-2008. 
(6) ibd Global Security, 2008
(7)La Franchi, Peter. "Iranian-made Ababil-T Hezbollah UAV shot down by Israeli fighter in Lebanon crisis ." Flight Global, 15/08/06. Web.
(8) ibd Devlin, 2007
(9) ibd La Franchi, 2006
(10) ibd Global Security, 2008
(11) UAV Center. "Middle East - Asia." http://www.uavcenter.com/english/wwuavs/asia/emiddle_east-asia.asp
(12) ibd Devlin, 2007
(13) ibd Global Security, 2008
(14) ibd Devlin, 2007