Iran's Shahed-136 Drones Compared to Israel's Quadcopters

After a drone attack targeted an Iranian military facility in Isfahan on Saturday, anonymous officials cited in several reports placed the blame on Israel.

The New York Times reported that senior intelligence officials familiar with talks between Israel and the U.S. over the incident said that Mossad, Israel's national intelligence agency, was behind the attack. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed people familiar with discussions about the operation, also reported that Mossad executed the attack.

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the incident and Newsweek has not been able to independently verify claims about Israel's involvement. Newsweek reached out to the Israeli Defense Ministry and Iranian Foreign Ministry for comment.

In the wake of the attack, the Iranian Defense Ministry released a statement saying that the strike had been "unsuccessful." One drone was shot down "and the other two were caught in defense traps and blew up," the statement said. It added that there were no casualties and the roof of a workshop building sustained only minor damage.

Iran Drones Compared to Israel's
A drone, which appears to resemble the triangle-shaped Iranian Shahed-136 drones Russia has been using, approaches for an attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, on October 17, 2022. In inset, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian meets with his Qatari counterpart in the capital Tehran, on January 29, 2023. There several key differences between Israeli quadcopters that were allegedly used in recent a strike on an Iran military facility and the Shahed-136 drones. Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images; Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

While Iran does not appear to have blamed Israel for the attack, at least publicly, the Iranian state-run IRNA news agency described the drones behind the strikes as "quadcopters equipped with bomblets," according to The Washington Post. Iranian state television aired footage of what it said was debris from the drones, the Post reported.

Quadcopters are a type of drone that get their name from having four separate rotors. Israel has reportedly used quadcopters for several strikes inside Iran and other countries in recent years, according to The New York Times.

The type of quadcopter allegedly used in the attack was not immediately clear, but in November, Israeli defense company Elbit Systems unveiled a micro-drone called Lanius, a drone-based loitering munition it describes as "highly maneuverable and versatile."

The Lanius was designed for short-range operations in "the urban environment," can be used to "carry lethal or non-lethal payloads" and is able to perform a variety of missions for special forces, the military and law enforcement, according to Elbit Systems. The company said the system can "autonomously scout and map buildings and points of interest for possible threats."

The drone appears to carry several differences from a type of Iranian drone that has received considerable attention over its involvement in the ongoing war in Ukraine. Ukraine and Western officials have said that Iran provided Russia with several types of drones for use in the war, including the Shahed-136, though Iran has denied it.

Unlike the small and "highly maneuverable" Lanius drones, the triangular-shaped Shahed-136 is 11 feet long, weighs 440 pounds and has a wingspan of 8.2 feet. It carries a warhead weighing between 66 and 110 pounds, and its maximum range is estimated to be between 1,000 and 1,600 miles.

Though known for being loud, the Shahed-136 drones' top speed of 115 mph is significantly higher than the top speed of the Lanius, which has a top speed of 45 mph, Forbes reported. The Lanius also has a limited flight time, which was designated as seven minutes, according to Forbes.