In a strange twist of fate, Reza Baruni, the father of Iran's military UAV program, died after an explosion destroyed his closely secured hide-away earlier this week. He lived in a secluded, high-scale neighborhood popular among high Iranian officials in the southern town of Ahwaz.
Baruni's role in the military's drone program was very secretive, so many people within the country may not be aware of the effect his death could have on their UAV effort. Officially, the media announced that he died after a gas canister exploded near his home. However, DEBKA-Net-Weekly's intelligence sources report that "bombs were planted in at least three corners of the building and expertly rigged to explode simultaneously to bring the ceilings crashing down on its occupants. The bomber must therefore have had access to the Baruni home."
A retired army major, Baruni created Iran's UAV program from scratch and trained a new generation of engineers and planners. Despite his efforts and plenty of Iranian investment, the product never met the advanced standards achieved by other countries.
Earlier this year, U.S. Defense Security Robert Gates told the Senate Appropriations Committee, "Countries like Iran are developing their own UAVs and already have a UAV capability. That is a concern because it is one of these areas where, if they chose to--in Iraq, in Afghanistan--they could create difficulties for us."
Naturally, there is also a growing concern that drone technology could be sold to terrorist groups.