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Iran unveils new long-range drone

Iran claims to have developed a drone with a 1,200 mile range, capable of reaching the Middle East and Israel.

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An Iranian-made drone is paraded during the Army Day celebrations in Tehran in 2010. The new Shahed-129 unmanned aerial vehicle doubles the range of this one, and can hit just about anywhere in the Middle East – including Israel. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran unveiled a new locally-made strategic drone with a range of over 1,200 miles this week — far enough to strike Israel.

According to Iran's state-run IRNA news agency, the drone has been dubbed "Fotros" and was developed as part of the Iranian defense ministry's strategy "to update its equipment." 

IRNA claims the drone can fly as high as 25,000 feet, can be equipped with surface-to-air missiles if needed, and was entirely developed and built by Iranians.

It will have a range of over 1,200 miles and is capable of staying airborne for over 30 hours, giving it a strike distance encompassing much of the Middle East and Israel. 

Fears that the new device will ignite a drone arms race are likely unfounded, however. 

"While new for Iran, these stats put the drone squarely between the US Air Force's Predator (which can fly just as high for just as long, but at less range) and Reaper (which can fly higher, at nearly the same range, for just as long)," writes Popular Science.

"It's an additional tool for Iran, but this is hardly an arms race of apocalyptic proportions."

The BBC's diplomatic correspondent, Jonathan Marcus, agreed that it was not yet time to be alarmed. "Once largely the preserve of the US and Israel, UAVs are now spreading around the world," wrote Marcus. "However drones have largely been used in clear skies against enemies with limited air defences."

Here's a BBC tweet with an image of the device.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iran/131118/iran-announces-new-long-range-drone