Belarus Unveils Shahed-136 Drones During Independence Parade

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During its Independence Day parade, Belarus revealed that its military is now equipped with Shahed-136 loitering munitions.

The Shahed-136

The Shahed-136, originally of Iranian origin, was developed by the state-owned Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA).

This drone, with its distinct delta-wing configuration, utilizes a gas-powered propeller and has an estimated operational range of over 2,500 kilometers. Primarily used for kinetic strikes, the Shahed also carries a 50-kilogram explosive payload.

The system is operated by several Iranian-backed proxy forces, such as the Houthis in Yemen and various Shia militias in Iraq and Syria that are part of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq.

The Geran-2

In July 2022, United States National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN that Russian officials had made several trips to Iran to view drone capabilities. He reiterated previous claims that the United States had “information that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with several hundred UAVs, including weapons-capable UAVs.”

By September, the first instance of Russian Shahed-136 deployment was reported in Ukraine during a strike in Kupyansk. Since then, these drones, designated as “Geran-2,” have been frequently used to carry out swarm attacks against Ukrainian infrastructure, particularly in Odessa. The drones, domestically produced in Russia and not export variants of the Iranian model, utilize upgraded navigation equipment.

The Nomad

Photos of the drones seen at the parade indicate they were likely purchased from Russia. According to the Ukrainian military, “the first letter of the serial number indicates these drones are fully manufactured in Russia.” The drones, which still sport the Russian designation of “Geran-2,” also include a new name, “Kochevnik” or “Nomad.”

Visually, there is nothing to suggest that the Nomad is anything different from a standard Russian-built Geran-2 model.


The showcasing of the drones coincided with the appearance of Russian-built nuclear-capable Iskander-M ballistic missiles at the parade. Belarus has sought to bolster its tactical strike capabilities through Russian arms sales since the outbreak of the Russian invasion.

While there is no indication that Belarus will join the fight soon, fears of such involvement remain. The prospect of drone strikes from the north against Kyiv will likely be stoked as Russian forces recently started renewed offensive operations in Kharkiv.

Increased strike capabilities will also heighten regional tensions with neighboring NATO members, such as Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania, who have all called on the European Union to construct a defensive line along its borders with Belarus.