A video from Ukraine shows exactly how Iran’s Shahed-136 drone works. The 3.5-meter-long delta-shaped projectile dives straight down with the shrill hum of a propeller motor, slow enough to be in view for several seconds. Then it explodes at the foot of an apartment building. Dozens of these kamikazedrones hit Ukrainian civilian targets such as roads, parks and power plants as well as some military targets such as tanks and artillery over the past week. This weekend, the Washington Post revealed, citing anonymous defense sources, that Iran will also supply the ballistic missiles. Entry-level Iran has been working on its own missiles and military UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or drones for decades. These are of a steadily increasing technological level and are increasingly reliable and precise. Especially in drones, Iran has built up an extensive arsenal, in which the Shahed-136 is still only an entry-level model. Iran gains knowledge, experience and prestige through the arms deliveries, which makes the weapons more attractive internationally. The Shahed-136 is sometimes referred to as a loitering munition , a term for drones that can fly around for a while, looking for a target to pounce. But that term is actually wrong: the Shahed-136 does not have its own camera, and with the help of satellite navigation it crashes at a pre-programmed point, with an explosive head of 40 kg. In short, it is not a miracle weapon. The main advantage for Russia is that it is extremely cheap: around 20,000 euros, a fraction of most anti-aircraft missiles used to shoot them from the sky. Because of that low price, they can also be used in large numbers. According to Ukrainian intelligence services, Russia has ordered 2,400 of them. Big dose of luck However, the question is whether they will also make a difference militarily. “In order to avoid missile and drone attacks, the important parts of the Ukrainian army are extremely mobile and constantly spread over different places,” said Paul van Hooft, an air defense expert at the HCSS security institute in The Hague. Military targets fiercely pursued by Russia, such as the more than 100 US-supplied M777 Howitzers, and especially the HIMARS missile launchers that gave Ukraine the upper hand, are highly mobile. According to the US, all supplied HIMARS systems are still in operation. You must first find such military targets, for example with reconnaissance drones, and then quickly bombard them before they leave again. In this rapid cooperation, the Russian armed forces have so far performed poorly. Russia’s Orlan-10 reconnaissance drones are often taken down, although the dozens of Mohajer-6 reconnaissance drones, which Iran also supplies, may do better. In addition, military targets are often protected by anti-aircraft defense systems to which the Shahed-136 should not be a party. Even in urban areas, Ukraine claims to take down more than half of Shahed-136s. There are even videos circulating online of Ukrainians shooting them with Kalashnikovs (although that does require a good dose of luck). Also read: Even the Russian nationalists must now shut up Ballistic Missiles More worrying for Ukraine is Iran’s delivery of short-range ballistic missiles Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar to Russia. They can hit targets at distances of up to 300 and 700 kilometers respectively. The missiles could supplement Russia’s dwindling precision-guided missiles such as Russia’s Iskander-M. In addition to funding to boost its arms development, Iran’s supplies will also gain experience and knowledge, and give the weapons more prestige – allowing more of them to be sold. This may also have been a reason for Israeli diaspora affairs minister Nachman Shai to call for Israeli weapons to be supplied to Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly asked Israel for the Iron Dome system, to no avail. Experts do not agree on whether the Israeli Iron Dome system, which shoots Hamas missiles from the sky over Israeli cities, is suitable for intercepting Iran’s Shahed-136 drones. Iran, meanwhile, denies supplying the drones to Russia. The rubble of downed vehicles bears the Russian type designation ‘Geran-2’: ‘geranium’. That is according to the Russian tradition of naming artillery pieces after ornamental flowers such as tulips, acacias, hyacinths and carnations. European Union Sanctions Against Iran The EU is still looking for legally conclusive evidence that it is indeed Iran that supplied kamikaze drones to Russia and used them for attacks on Kiev on Monday morning. If it is unequivocally established that Iran supplied the weapons, then the EU will take action against Tehran. On Monday, 11 Iranian officials and four Iranian institutions were placed on a sanctions list in retaliation for Iran’s repressive measures against protesters after the death of 22-year-old Masha Amini. The woman died after she was arrested for not covering her head. Michel Kerres A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper of October 18, 2022