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SAI Saegheh (Thunderbolt)

Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV)

Iran | 2016

"The Saegheh series of drones is directly influenced by the captured American Lockheed RQ-170 Sentinel claimed in December of 2011 by Iranian elements."

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the SAI Saegheh Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV).
1 x Non-afterburning turbofan engine of unknown make, model, and output power; some sub-scale versions equipped with piston-driven engine powering pusher propeller at rear of fuselage.
47,572 ft
14,500 m | 9 miles
Service Ceiling
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the SAI Saegheh Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV).
14.8 ft
4.50 m
O/A Length
85.3 ft
(26.00 m)
O/A Width
6.1 ft
(1.85 m)
O/A Height
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the SAI Saegheh (Thunderbolt) Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) .
Unknown. Assumed support for air-to-surface missiles and rockets.
Notable series variants as part of the SAI Saegheh (Thunderbolt) family line.
Saegheh - Base Series Name.
Shahed 141 - 40% scale version of the RQ-170; piston-powered engine with pusher propeller unit.
Shahed 161 - 40% scale version of the RQ-170.
Shahed 181 - 60% scale version of the RQ-170; piston-powered engine with pusher propeller unit.
Shahed 191 - 60% scale version of the RQ-170.
Shahed 171 (Simorgh) - 100% scale version of the RQ-170.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/07/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

December of 2011 saw the jet-powered American Lockheed RQ-170 "Sentinel" unmanned, low-observable stealth reconnaissance drone downed by Iranian forces, its advanced technology now claimed by the country and reformed to become the Shahed Saegheh ("Thunderbolt"). By all accounts, the Saegheh is a direct Iranian copy of the American counterpart in both form and function, with the Iranian vision adding an attack capability. A first-flight of this drone was had during November of 2014 and service introduction followed thereafter in October of 2016. It is operated solely by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force (IRGCASF).

The aircraft is manufactured by Shahed Aviation Industries of Iran.

The Sentinel has been wholly rebuilt by Iranian engineers, complete with its arrowhead-like, tail-less planform - the blended wing-body producing a true "flying wing" design. The engine sits atop the shape, embedded into the aft portion of the fuselage with an intake positioned dorsally for the air-breathing engine within. A pair of bulges straddle the intake hump and a wheeled, retractable tricycle undercarriage allows for ground-running.

The Saegheh has been built into several evolutionary iterations: primary marks include the "Saegheh-1" of 2016, reportedly (though unverified) with support for 4 x Anti-Tank, Guided Missiles (ATGMs). The "Saegheh-2" (alternatively known as the "Shahed 191") with vehicle-launched capability and twin-missile support.

Beyond these are sub-variants of note: Shahed 141 is a non-jet, 40% scale version of the RQ-170 and driven by a piston-powered engine with "pusher" propeller unit. The Shahed 161 is a 40% scale version / copy of the complete jet-powered RQ-170. The Shahed 181 is 60% to the RQ-170 scale and, again, featured with a piston-driven engine. The Shahed 191 mentioned above is 60% to the RQ-170's scale. The Shahed 171 is the 100% scale copied form of the original RQ-170.

Several reports have shown the Saegheh to be in active service: Israeli air defenses claimed the downing of the air vehicle during February 2018, confirming that the American RQ-170 had, indeed, been copied by Iranian industry and reconstituted for the country's own operations. The Saegheh has also been utilized in over Eastern Syria by the IRGC during October of that same year.

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Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the SAI Saegheh (Thunderbolt). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 10 Units

Contractor(s): Shahed Aviation Industries (SAI) - Iran
National flag of Iran

[ Iran ]
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Image of the SAI Saegheh (Thunderbolt)
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Going Further...
The SAI Saegheh (Thunderbolt) Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) appears in the following collections:
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