A new satellite image from northern Syria showed an Iranian military aircraft deployed at the strategic Hama Airbase.
Based on the satellite image, the Iranian-made unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Ababeel 3, was seen at the Hama Airbase, which has previously come under attack by militants in the nearby Idlib Governorate.
The Iranian aircraft has been used by the Syrian Armed Forces on several occasions in the past, including reconnaissance missions in both the Idlib and Hama governorates.
The Syrian military uses a plethora of Iranian and Russian drones to conduct reconnaissance missions over the militant-held areas in northern, central and eastern Syria.
The HESA Ababil is an Iranian single-engine multirole tactical unmanned aerial vehicle manufactured by Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA). The Ababil-3 is a complete redesign of the Ababil with an improved airframe used solely for surveillance: it carries better equipment and can stay aloft for longer. The Ababil-3 is very likely based off the South African Denel Dynamics Seeker, and possibly the Seeker-2D model in particular.
The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic are close strategic allies, and Iran has provided significant support for the Syrian Government in the Syrian Civil War, including logistical, technical and financial support, as well as training and some combat troops.
Tensions spiked last month between Iran and US when Iran shot down a US drone over sensitive Gulf waters following a series of tanker attacks that Washington blamed on Tehran, which has denied involvement.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps reportedly made use of the 3rd Khordad surface to air missile system to shoot down a Northrop Grumman RQ-4A Global Hawk surveillance drone operated by the U.S. Air Force
The Global Hawk is one of the most expensive military aircraft in the American inventory at over $220 million each, and is designed to retain a high degree of survivability. The drone was operating in ‘full stealth mode’ according to Iranian reports, and had turned off its identification equipment to survey Iranian territory undetected.