A drone-kamikaze factory may appear in Elabuga, the American The Wall Street Journal writes. According to the newspaper, in January, a delegation from Iran visited the city in Tatarstan, which will help launch the production of drones. The plant will have a capacity of 6,000 drones per year and will produce faster and longer-range versions of Iran's Shahed-136 UAVs.
The U.S. has repeatedly claimed that Tehran supplies them to Moscow for use in special operations, the Kremlin has denied these reported.
Moscow and Tehran intend to build a joint factory to produce combat drones, which will be used in the zone of special operations in Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal reported this, citing high-ranking officials close to the United States.
According to the newspaper, a delegation flew from Iran to Russia in early January to see the site of the future plant and discuss details of the launch of the project. The enterprise is to appear in Yelabuga in Tatarstan, its capacity will be 6,000 combat kamikaze drones a year.
According to WSJ, the Iranian delegation was represented by Brigadier General Abdollah Mehrabi, head of the Air Force in the Revolutionary Guards Corps, and Ghasem Damavandian, executive director of Quds Aviation Industry, a key developer and manufacturer of combat drones in Iran.
U.S. authorities warned of talks between Moscow and Tehran to establish a joint production of combat drones as early as last December. Now, according to the newspaper, the talks have shaped into concrete plans. On January 5, an Iranian delegation visited Yelabuga and inspected the vacant lot where the plant would be built.
According to WSJ, an upgraded version of the Shahed-136 drone with a new engine, which would allow it to fly faster and farther, would be produced in Tatarstan.
At the same time, the authors of the publication note that the new enterprise and its products will not affect the current balance of power in Ukraine and the expected offensive of Russian troops in the spring, as the construction of the combat drone production plant will take a considerable amount of time. However, the newspaper does not rule out that the UAVs could be used by Moscow in other conflicts or exported.
According to WSJ sources, the construction of the plant is part of a $1 billion deal between Russia and Iran in which Moscow allegedly supplies Tehran with Western weapons seized in the fighting in Ukraine.
In addition, the publication reported that on January 6 - the day after it became known about the visit of the Iranian delegation to Yelabuga - the US imposed personal economic sanctions against the director of Quds Aviation Industry Damavandian.