As another keen observer of modern wars fought using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), the nation of Iran has been stockpiling indigenous designs for the last decade. This includes the line of HESA Ababil UAVs which run the gamut of over-battlefield roles including general scouting, loitering munition, target drone, and attack. The Ababil-1 was a circo-1980s loitering type while the Ababil02 became its modernized, improved form. Since then, the Ababil-3 was revealed to be a 2008 development covering the Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) role.
Expanding the line-up today is the Ababil-5, debuted during an Iranian military display in April of 2022. This aircraft appears to be a dedicated strike platform (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle = UCAV) ala the American "Predator" series with a fixed-wing mainplane, propeller drive, and underslung air-to-surface weapons. Its general design lines and overall configuration seem to very closely follow the Israeli IAI "Searcher" UAV of 1992.
As showcased, the UAV has a centralized, slab-sided fuselage with twin-boom tail unit configuration. The powerplant is seated at the rear of the fuselage driving a three-bladed propeller unit in "pusher" arrangement. The mainplanes are shoulder-mounted and straight with clipped tips while, under each member, is noted a hardpoint which can mount up to three small air-to-surface missiles (six in all). The undercarriage is of tricycle arrangement, wheeled, and fixed. It is assumed that the avionics and optics set are housed in the forward section of the fuselage.
Due to the secretive nature of Iranian defense industry, it is unknown whether the unit on display was a static prototype, working prototype, or production-quality example.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Aircraft inherently designed (or later developed) with an unmanned capability to cover a variety of over-battlefield roles.
Houses, or can house (through specialized variants), radar equipment for searching, tracking, and engagement of enemy elements.
Design incorporates rear-facing pusher-prop arrangement, a contrast to the more conventional puller-prop layout.
Inherent ability of airframe to take considerable damage.
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
EXTENDED RANGE PERFORMANCE
Capability to travel considerable distances through onboard fuel stores.
Design features ability to fly sans pilot, actions controlled onboard through programming and / or ground-based operator.
Payload supports photographic equipment providing still and / or real-time image / video results.
19.2 ft (5.85 m)
28.1 ft (8.55 m)
4.1 ft (1.25 m)
772 lb (350 kg)
1,102 lb (500 kg)
+331 lb (+150 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base HESA Ababil-5 production variant)
monoplane / shoulder-mounted / straight
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are mounted at the upper section of the fuselage, generally at the imaginary line intersecting the pilot's shoulders.
The planform involves use of basic, straight mainplane members.
(Structural descriptors pertain to the base HESA Ababil-5 production variant)
1 x Conventional engine of unknown make and model outputting around 50 horsepower driving single three-bladed propeller unit at end of fuselage in pusher arrangement.
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