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Qods Ababil (Swallow)

Reconnaissance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

Iran | 1995

"The Iranian Qods Abibil UAV is sent airborne via a launch rail fitted to the back of an army utility truck."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/24/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were once considered primarily the domains of Israel and the United States Military. Throughout the 1990's, however, every major military power has seen fit to fund their own UAV developments for a variety of battlefield-related services - from reconnaissance, surveillance and assault. UAVs present some optimal advantages even in the age of digital communications and satellites: they are relatively cheap to produce, operate and maintain when compared to fielding a modern multi-role fighter, they do not require the senseless exposure of a pilot to enemy air and ground defenses and they provide real-time battlefield assessment capabilities (satellites must be in orbit over the area of the earth to be monitored, with this option reoccurring only once every 24 hours). In this way, UAVs are really the method of warfare for the near foreseeable future and beyond.

The Ababil takes on a conventional aerodynamic form, reflecting more the look of a winged rocket than anything else. The body is a tubular frame capped with a nose cone. Wing canards are high-mounted at the forward section of the fuselage while the main wing spans are low-mounted fitting to the vehicles extreme aft. The engine is rear mounted and features a "pusher" type two-bladed propeller system (conventional propeller and engines "pull" and are therefore traditionally mounted forward of the fuselage or in wing nacelles). A single vertical tail fin rounds out the design elements. Performance specifications report maximum range of up to 150 miles with a radius of just over 93 miles. The service ceiling is listed at 14,000 feet with a top speed of up to 186 miles-per-hour. This UAV system is not going to win any design awards based on looks alone but its operational involvement in the region has garnered the attention of the United States Department of Defense and regional American allies.

The Ababil is launched via a pneumatic-type launcher from the rear of a specially-configured Benz-911 utility truck. The UAV is also capable of being launched at sea with the use of rockets. Though no visible undercarriage is apparent, the Ababil is recovered via skids and an Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industries parachute system. Operationally, the Ababil can sport a variety of surveillance-minded equipment configurations depending on the Ababil model and its defined mission role. An integrated communications package allows for a direct datalink between the ground-based operator and airborne vehicle system. The Shahid Noroozi guidance system is an indigenous Iranian product while an IR-based flare system along with a CCD Television camera are part of the internal workings. In the assault role, the Ababil can also sport an 88lb warhead munition. This particular version takes the warhead payload all the way to its target resulting in the entire loss of the UAV (unlike American Predators/Reapers that air-launch their Hellfire missiles). A few other specialized variants are known to exist.

As of this writing, the Ababil has been fielded by both Iran and Hezbollah. Hezbollah received 12 examples from Iran (according to Israeli sources) to which three were shot down by Israeli fighters in the 2006 Lebanon War. An Iranian Ababil was also shot down by a United States General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon over Iraq on March 16th, 2009, just 60 miles northeast of Baghdad near Balad Ruz. Speculation persists as to the UAV's motives in the area but it did nothing to lessen the tension between Washington and Tehran.

The 120 production example quantity stated on our website is an estimated value.

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.

May 2022 - Iranian state media reported the opening of a Ababil-2 drone factory in Tajikistan.

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Qods Ababil (Swallow) Reconnaissance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
1 x Conventional piston engine driving a two-bladed propeller blade in "pusher" configuration.
186 mph
300 kph | 162 kts
Max Speed
13,999 ft
4,267 m | 3 miles
Service Ceiling
149 miles
240 km | 130 nm
Operational Range
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Qods Ababil (Swallow) Reconnaissance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
9.5 ft
2.90 m
O/A Length
183 lb
(83 kg)
Empty Weight
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Qods Ababil (Swallow) Reconnaissance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) .
Guided Explosive Warhead Payload (the entire UAV is lost in the action).
Notable series variants as part of the Qods Ababil (Swallow) family line.
Ababil - Base Series Designation.
Ababil-B - Possible target drone use.
Ababil-S / Ababil-R - Surviellance drone.
Ababil-T - Short-to-Medium-Ranged attack model.
Ababil-II / Ababil-2 - Basic model of 1999.
Ababil-V - Tactical Medium-Range Reconnaissance and Surveillance.
Ababil-CH - Twim-boom design; dimensionally larger than the Ababil-T model.
Qasef-1 - Loitering munition conversion design based in the Ababil-2 production series; explosive warhead.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Qods Ababil (Swallow). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 500 Units

Contractor(s): Ghods Aviation Industries (Qods) / HESA - Iran
National flag of Iran National flag of Lebanon National flag of Sudan National flag of Tajikistan National flag of Yemen

[ Iran; Lebanon; Hezbollah; Sudan; Tajikistan; Yemen ]
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Image of the Qods Ababil (Swallow)
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Going Further...
The Qods Ababil (Swallow) Reconnaissance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) appears in the following collections:
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