- By Uri Friedman
Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Before joining FP, he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland.
Faithful readers of Iran’s state-run news outlets might have noticed a lot of hype this week about President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s plans to unveil a new Iranian-made surveillance and combat drone — the country’s "most advanced" yet — called Epic (Hemaseh in Farsi).
Well, it’s here. PressTV reports:
The drone was unveiled on Thursday during a ceremony attended by Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi.
"This drone has been built by defense industry experts and is simultaneously capable of surveillance, reconnaissance and missile and rocket attacks," Vahidi said on the sidelines of the ceremony.
"This aircraft with its stealth quality can avoid detection by the enemy," he added.
High altitude and long flight range are two other distinguishing features of the new Iranian UAV.
The news comes amid reports that an Israeli drone made its first fully automated takeoff this week — and just weeks after Israel shot down a drone of unknown provenance and Iran showcased a new long-range drone on the country’s Army Day (see photo above). A report by Iran’s Fars News Agency earlier this week claimed that Iran, in fact, is designing and producing 40 different types of drones. As P.W. Singer wrote in a Foreign Policy article on the spread of smaller and smarter drones to other countries:
[W]hen we often talk about a supposed future of drone proliferation, we usually ignore the reality of the present. We already have a market that is global in both its customers, from Australia to Turkey, and in its manufacturers, from American firms like General Atomics and Lockheed to ASN Technology, one of the major makers in China, and ADE of India.
The Obama administration should "be more willing to discuss international legal standards for use of drones," former State Department legal advisor Harold Koh declared in a speech at Oxford on Tuesday, "so that our actions do not inadvertently empower other nations and actors who would use drones inconsistent with the law."
Seems like the world is way ahead of the White House on this one.