Military Knowledge: New Version Of Shahed-136 Suicide Drone Equipped With Jet Engine
The new version of Shahed-136 suicide drone, which was recently unveiled, is equipped with a micro-turbojet engine and has higher speed and less noise compared to the basic version of Shahed-136. The new version was first unveiled in the documentary teaser “Flagship” in October 2023.
Despite the fact that Shahed-136 drone has a low radar cross-section, the drone provides enemy’s defense systems with a proper timing to detect and take action against it due to its propeller engine and low speed. The high and distinctive sound of the drone’s engine and its low speed make the drone easier to be visually detected.
However, increasing the speed of Shahed-136 drone with a micro-turbojet engine, along with the use of a honeycomb structure in its body, which protects the drone from falling despite being hit by numerous bullets, will improve the overall success rate of the suicide drone.
Based on the released video of the new version of Shahed-136 drone, it can be inferred that at least one version of the suicide drone is capable of being launched using existing launchers and with the use of a launching vehicle. The use of a vehicle is necessary to create the initial acceleration. However, it is also possible to launch the new version using a rocket booster, similar to the basic version.
There are also speculations about the launch of the suicide drone by fighter jets. It is worth mentioning that due to the use of a micro-turbojet engine and limitations in terms of dimensions and fuel capacity, the range of the jet engine version of Shahed-136 is less than the propeller engine version. Therefore, if the launch of this drone by fighter jets is confirmed, the problem of reduced range will also be solved and the range of the jet engine version of Shahed-136 will also have a significant increase.
The examination of the existing engines in the country increases the possibility of using the Toloue-10 jet engine on the new version of Shahed-136 drone. A shift in the engine will increase the weight of the drone by about 3 kilograms. The MD550 engine weighs 17.59 kilograms (38.8 pounds) and the Talou-10 engine weighs 20 kilograms.
Placing the micro-turbojet engine inside the fuselage of the suicide drone reduces the space for fuel storage. Changes have also been made to the upper part of the fuselage to create air intakes, which will also increase the weight and reduce the fuel capacity.
The type of fuel has also changed from gasoline to jet-A, which is mainly due to the fuel consumption of the new engine. The total changes will add approximately 10 to 20 kilograms to the weight of the suicide drone. As a result, the new version of the drone will weigh around 210 to 220 kilograms.
Toloue-10 engine known as Mini-Turbojet 896 is also used on Shahed 191 drone. The Shahed-191 drone, has a length of 7.2 meters and a wingspan of 1.7 meters. The drone is capable of carrying a high amount of fuel, and its maximum takeoff weight is specified as 500 kilograms. It has an endurance capacity of 4.5 hours and a maximum range of 1500 kilometers.
However, the new version of Shahed-136 has a maximum weight of 220 kilograms and smaller dimensions, which will result in carrying less fuel. The reduced weight and the special design of the drone will lead to a significant increase in speed.
The Shahed-191, with a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 500 kilograms, reaches a cruising speed of 350 kilometers per hour. Therefore, the new version of Shahed-136 suicide drone with a weight of 210 to 220 kilograms will be able to reach a cruising speed of over 500 kilometers per hour.
Considering the weight and dimensions of Shahed-136 suicide drone compared to Shahed-191 drone, it is likely that the new version will have less than 50% of the fuel carrying capacity compared to Shahed-191 drone. Therefore, the flight endurance of the new version of Shahed-136 suicide drone should be around 2 hours in comparison to the 4.5-hour endurance of Shahed-191 drone. With a flight endurance of 2 hours and a speed of 500 kilometers per hour, a range of 1000 kilometers can be imagined for the new version of Shahed-136 suicide drone.
Increasing the speed and the very low cross-sectional area of the drone makes it practically a more dangerous version than its previous version, and defense systems that previously had problems tracking Shahed-136 suicide drone will also become more vulnerable to this new drone.
Possible specifications of the new version of Shahed-136:
Type: Suicide drone
Country of Origin: Iran
Launch: 2023 (unofficial launch)
Length: 2.7 meters
Wingspan: 2.5 meters
Engine: Microturbojet 896 (Toloue-10)
Range: ~ 1000 km
Speed: more than 500 km/h
Impact speed: + 700 km/h
Flight ceiling: 30 thousand feet (9144 meters) (equivalent to Shahed-191)
Flight endurance: ~ 2 hours
Warhead weight: ~ 40 kg
Weight: ~ 210-220 kg