Russia has been sending captured US Javelins and Stingers from Ukraine to Iran, which may be able to reverse-engineer the weapons: report

Ukrainian soldiers use a launcher with US Javelin missiles.
In this image released by Ukrainian Defense Ministry Press Service, Ukrainian soldiers use a launcher with US Javelin missiles.Ukrainian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP
  • Russia has been capturing US and NATO-provided Javelins and Stingers on the battlefield in Ukraine.

  • It has been sending the captured weapons to Iran, which could reverse-engineer the weapons, per CNN.

  • Iran has a track record of reverse-engineering Western arms to create its own versions.

Russia has been sending Western-supplied weapons captured on the battlefields of Ukraine to its ally Iran, which may be able to reverse-engineer the technology, according to CNN.

US, NATO, and other Western officials have observed several instances of Russian forces capturing US-made Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft systems that the Ukrainian army has left behind, CNN reported, citing four sources familiar with the matter.

According to the sources, Russia has flown some of these weapons to Iran, likely so that it can take them apart and analyze the technology in order to create its own versions of the weapons.

Ukraine has received billions of dollars worth of weapons from the West, with the US supplying FGM-148 Javelins and FIM-92 Stingers from its own military stockpile.

Russia also believes that providing the captured weapons to Iran encourages the maintenance of an alliance between the two countries, the sources said.

Earlier reports have suggested that Iran is sending ammunition and military drones to Russia, with US and NATO officials telling Foreign Policy this month that Russia and Iran are increasing defense ties.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin noted the closer ties between the two countries during a speech in Israel on Thursday.

According to CNN, US officials don't think the issue of weapons being sent to Iran is widespread, but noted that it is difficult to track.

The media outlet reported that it's unclear if Iran has successfully reverse-engineered any US weapons seized in Ukraine, but it added that the country has a track record of doing so.

"Iran has demonstrated the capability to reverse-engineer US weapons in the past," Jonathan Lord, a senior fellow and director of the Middle East security program at the Center for a New American Security, told CNN.

In the 1970s, Iran successfully reverse-engineered the American BGM-71 TOW missile, creating a replica anti-tank-guided missile called the Toophan.

Iran's Sayyad-2 naval SAM is also a reverse-engineered version of a US-made weapon, the SM-1 (RIM-66).


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