Russian cargo planes have quietly, according to The Washington Post, picked up Iran's first round of drone shipments, U.S. officials said.
On Aug. 19, transport planes departed Iran carrying two types of unmanned aerial vehicles, both of which can carry payloads capable of striking targets such as radars, artillery and other military targets, U.S. and other spy agencies say.
But the weapons, which could provide a boost to a Russian offensive, have been plagued with technical problems, security officials from the U.S. and other spy agencies stated. According to one official, early tests of the equipment were counted as experiencing numerous failures.
"There are a few bugs in the system," one security official said. "The Russians are not satisfied."
Speculating on the problems of the drones, Michael Knights, military expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says that the drones Iran is supplying haven't gone up against the sophisticated electronic jamming and anti-aircraft systems used by the Ukrainians.
"These Iranian drones have not operated in a sophisticated air-defense environment before," Knights said. "The closest they've come to that is with [Houthi strikes against] Saudi Arabia or against U.S. bases in Iraq, and they have generally not done well. So I wouldn't be surprised that, in a more intense environment like Ukraine, that they would have some problems."
For Russia, only two countries are capable of supplying the types of military drones Moscow seeks: China and Iran. But due to China's aversion to sanctions that would hit if it were to supply the types of drones Moscow seeks, the only option is Iran.
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