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Russian plant in Tatarstan plans to produce 6,000 Shahed drones annually

Russian plant in Tatarstan plans to produce 6,000 Shahed drones annually Russian plant in Tatarstan plans to produce 6,000 Shahed drones annually (Getty Images)

The Russian plant in Alabuga plans to produce 6,000 Shahed drones annually. It was already ahead of its production schedule in late April and delivered 4,500 drones, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The production of Iranian UAVs is located in several hangars in the Alabuga Special Economic Zone.

According to the media, Russian businessmen signed an agreement to build the plant at the end of 2022, when they flew to Iran with a lucrative offer of $1.7 billion, which was partially paid in gold bullion.

According to the contract, the Alabuga plant is to produce 6,000 Shaheds per year, in addition to reconnaissance drones. In April, the company was already ahead of schedule and delivered 4,500 of the promised drones.

Intelligence data indicates Russian military personnel are already being trained to fly drones in Syria by instructors from the Revolutionary Guard and the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah.

Not only Shaheds

Alabuga also produces M3 Albatross reconnaissance drones. Thanks to them, according to the WSJ, Russia was able to obtain detailed photographic reconnaissance of Ukrainian positions and movements on the front line. According to the manufacturer, the UAVs also helped repel an attempted invasion of the Belgorod region.

Russia is also producing its own warheads instead of waiting for Iranian ones. This, in turn, also accelerates the production of combat-ready weapons.

Moscow's transition to drones is taking place through the use of Tehran's shadow logistics networks in addition to Iranian military technology, media says.

Students are involved

The initial production of the Albatross UAV relied heavily on students from nearby technical colleges. But it was not enough for Moscow, so they started looking for workers in Africa.

In early 2023, Russian businessmen from Alabuga rented a hall in a high-class school in Uganda, gathering an audience of young female students. The latter were offered skilled jobs with salaries three times higher than in their home country, airfare, free accommodation, and more.

Iran's assistance to Russia during the war

The first time an Iranian drone was shot down by the Ukrainian military was in September 2022. At the time, Tehran denied helping the Russian military. Later, however, the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) stated that IRGC members were in the temporarily occupied Crimea to train the enemy to use Shahed-136 kamikaze drones.

In June 2023, White House spokesman John Kirby said that Russia was also receiving materials from Iran that were needed to build a UAV plant. According to satellite images, the plant was planned to be located in Alabuga.

Meanwhile, the European Union is planning to tighten sanctions against Iran because it assists Russia.