Iran's Bet on Autonomous Weapons

August 30, 2021

Weapon Program: 

  • Military


Evan Omeed Lisman


War on the Rocks

Attempting to pass off a child’s astronaut costume as an innovation of Iran’s space agency was bizarre but familiar. Shared online by Minister of Information and Communications Technology Azari Jahromi in February 2020, the fit-for-Halloween suit exemplified the Iranian government’s penchant for fabricating technical achievements, whether through farcical stealth fighter jets, fake space monkeys, or oil drum surface-to-air missiles.

Iran’s history of shameless exaggeration leaves plenty of reason for skepticism when the nation’s military unveils new capabilities or when Iranian officials announce ambitious technological goals, as they did earlier this year. In a widely publicized January exercise, the Iranian Army Ground Forces showcased what they said was the country’s first autonomous suicide drones, reportedly capable of detecting and destroying targets “using advanced image processing capabilities and artificial intelligence.” Not to be outdone, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps followed up with a demonstration of an explosive suicide drone, purportedly piloted with some level of AI. Later that month, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hassan Nami — one of Jahromi’s predecessors as minister of information and communications technology — claimed that Iran would have fully autonomous systems on the battlefield by 2024.


Read the rest of the commentary at War on the Rocks.