As Iran plans to gift Russian President Vladimir Putin armed drones amid the Russia-Ukraine war, the United States is developing technology that could counter the weapons.
The White House on Monday said it believes Iran is providing Russia “hundreds” of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including armed drones, to use in its invasion of Ukraine. The new information came as fighting between the two Eastern European countries has now lasted about four and a half months—and ahead of President Joe Biden‘s scheduled trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, where he is expected to discuss Iran’s nuclear program.
“Our information indicates that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred UAVs, including weapons-capable UAVs on an expedited timeline,” said U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan, according to the Associated Press.
He added that Iran’s support was indicative that Russia’s attacks on Ukraine are “coming at a cost to the sustainment of its own weapons.”
But the United States has recently developed technology in its arsenal that would be able to neutralize drones.
According to a February report from The Defense Post, Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) engineers developed a defense system that provides low-altitude air defense battalion gunners with improved capabilities for detecting, identifying and neutralizing weapons—including unmanned aerial vehicles such as drones.
The system, known as the Marine Air Defense Integrated System, is equipped with 360-degree radar, Stinger missiles, heavy guns and multifunctional electronic warfare to combat drones, The Defense Post added. It was set to undergo further testing and evaluation this year.
Ryan Price, NIWC Atlantic’s land systems integration officer, said the system provides the military with an “indispensable advantage,” according to The Defense Post.
Russian Strikes Continue
As the United States learned that Iran is giving Russia drones to use in the conflict, Russia has continued to conduct strikes against Ukraine that have killed civilians in recent days. On Monday, Russian shelling struck Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, killing three people and injuring 31 others, according to Reuters. It came after a strike against the eastern city of Chasiv Yar reportedly killed 35 people.
Putin launched the “special military operation” in Ukraine in late February. He has claimed the reason for the war is to “liberate” the eastern separatist Donbas region. He has also attempted to justify the war by claiming Nazis run the Ukrainian government, even though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish.
Iran to Be Discussed During Biden’s Middle East Trip
The revelation that Iran is giving armed drones to Russia came the same week that Biden announced plans to make his first trip to the Middle East as president. He plans to visit both Israel and Saudi Arabia, two countries that have seen strained relations in recent years.
Iran’s drone gift also puts it at odds with the United States, which, along with other Western nations, has backed Ukraine amid the conflict, sending its military weapons and enacting sanctions against Russia.
Experts anticipate Iran’s nuclear deal, and other activities, will be a major topic of discussion between Biden and Middle Eastern leaders during his trip, as nuclear negotiations with Iran continue to stall. Meanwhile, Putin is set to visit Iran next week.
Newsweek reached out to the Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic for comment.