Hackers Found That Russia Paid Iran $1.75 Billion ‘In Literal Gold’ for 6,000 Drones

The Prana Network, a group of hackers, has reportedly infiltrated the email servers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), unearthing a trove of data on the sale of Shahed drones to Russia. 

The data, approximately 10 gigabytes, was extracted from Sahara Thunder, a front company for the IRGC, which has been facilitating the sale of Iranian arms to Russia, including the Shahed kamikaze drones used in the Ukraine War since Russia’s invasion in 2022.

The Shahed drones, specifically the delta-winged Shahed-131/136 variants, are designed and manufactured by Shahed Aviation Industries Research Center, an entity operating under the IRGC. 

These drones are reported to have a range of 500 to 900 miles and have been utilized extensively in military operations. Contrary to a report by the Guardian, which cited an analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies pegging the cost of each drone at $20,000 or more, documents from Sahara Thunder revealed by Prana Network indicate a claimed production cost of $375,000 per unit.

The leaked documents further disclosed that Russia and Iran had negotiated a discounted bulk purchase price, agreeing on $193,000 per drone for a 6,000 unit order, totaling $1.75 billion including licensing fees for local production in Russia. 

The leaked documents also reveal that Russia paid for the drones, hardware, and software in gold, shipping a little over two tonnes in bullion to the manufacturer Sahara Thunder.

The revelation of the actual costs involved in the drone transactions between Russia and Iran highlights the strategic and financial dimensions of their military cooperation. While the drones remain effective from a cost perspective, their real cost significantly exceeds earlier estimates.

Information for this story was found via The Guardian, Forbes, Yahoo, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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