The loitering munition or ‘suicide drone’, which gained notoriety through its use by Russia in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, has been upgraded through the use of a jet engine. The original Sahed-136 drone, developed by the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA) and imported and rebranded as Geran-2 by Russian Forces, made use of a propellor which emitted a low buzzing noise, often leading to its identification during drone attacks.
The jet engine allows it to be flown faster, making it more difficult to be shot down or intercepted. In use with the Iranian military since 2021, the drone has since been used in at least 71 one-way attacks in Ukraine since March 2023.
Made popular due to its long-range capabilities, the stealth version has a slightly shorter range and carries a smaller payload.
The drone has reportedly been used in attacks in Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Additionally, Israel has claimed to have shot down a Sahed-136 UAV which entered Israeli airspace from Syria in 2018.
Since October 2022, the EU and US have imposed sanctions on Iran as well as on firms producing or transferring the drones to Russia.