How Effective Is Ahmadinejad’s New Drone?

As showbiz, it had its effect. “Iranians Roll Out Unmanned Bomber,” the Wall Street Journal warned darkly on its front page the day after Ahmadinejad’s announcement. Global television has repeatedly shown two chador-clad women pulling up the cloak to reveal the Karrar – Farsi for Striker – but which Ahmadinejad affectionately dubbed the “ambassador of death.” (“It’s a curious name for a system,” State Department spokesman – and former Air Force Officer- P.J. Crowley noted, as if the U.S. Air Force’s two armed drones, the Predator and Reaper, were benignly named.)

Yet the gap between rhetoric and rockets looms large, experts suggest. “More like the ‘ambassador of minor damage to unintended target,'” says Richard Aboulafia, a veteran analyst with the Teal Group, an aerospace-consulting firm just outside Washington, D.C. Iran lacks the ability to guide its drone over long distances, nor does it have the sensors – both on the aircraft and at the ground stations controlling it – to make it any kind of a threat. Adds Kenneth Katzman, an Iranian-military expert with the Congressional Research Service: “It is likely to have virtually no actual military value.”


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