Tehran is using drone technology to restore a deterrent posture tarnished by recent targeted killings, attacks on military and nuclear sites, and popular domestic uprisings.
Iran claims to have the most powerful and diverse fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles in the Middle East, and it has indeed made significant advances in recent decades. Iranian drones have been widely used by its proxies in the region since at least 2004, posing a 360-degree threat that is both hard to detect and counter. That threat has become a concern for the United States and its allies, as Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., head of U.S. Central Command, bluntly admitted in his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in April 2021, citing a loss of complete U.S. air superiority for the first time in decades. Accordingly, Tehran has been quick to show off the offensive and defensive capabilities alike of its drone fleet, including elaborate and deceptive measures to reinforce what it hopes will become a deterrent.
Read the rest of this analysis at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.