TechIranian 'Shahed' drones used in Ukraine available for $57,000 on Alibaba: short-lived but shocking sale

Iranian 'Shahed' drones used in Ukraine available for $57,000 on Alibaba: short-lived but shocking sale

The Russians began using thermobaric warheads in Shahed-136 drones.
The Russians began using thermobaric warheads in Shahed-136 drones.
Images source: © Defence Express

9:20 AM EST, January 18, 2024

The Chinese sales platform Alibaba often features many captivating offers. The sale of "Shahed" drones, which were only available for a few hours, certainly falls into this category. For $57,000, one could purchase an unmanned aerial vehicle, most likely in the Shahed-136 version. These devices have become a consistent aspect of Russia's aggressive actions in Ukraine. Putin's army regularly dispatches groups of them over Ukrainian cities, causing extensive damage.

"Shahed" drones available from the Chinese

The Shahed-136 drone is a product of Iran, used by the Russians under Geran-2. They are classified as loitering munitions. The manufacturer has not disclosed the exact technical specifications of the drone. However, some details have been partially reconstructed based on units intercepted and shot down over Ukraine. Below is a graphical representation of the key features of Shahed-136:

The Shahed-136 is approximately 11.5 feet long, and its delta-shaped wings span about 8.2 feet. The total weight of the Shahed-136 is around 441 lbs, with the warhead accounting for between 66 to 110 lbs. Due to its relatively small mass, the Shahed-136 drone has an estimated range of about 621 miles (though some sources suggest it might reach up to 1,553 miles).

Despite its admirable range, this drone moves at a somewhat slow speed, usually just over 62 mph. The maximum speed it can attain is around 115 mph. The devices can form so-called swarms. A special mobile launcher enables this; it can transport and later launch up to five drones simultaneously. Attacks from such groups are a significant threat as managing a large number of devices can overwhelm the anti-aircraft defense and cause more destruction.

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