Tehran has unveiled a mock-up of a trainer/light attack plane.
Mashregh News, a news website affiliated with the IRGC, the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, has published a blurry picture of a mock-up of a new Iranian jet dubbed “Borhan.”
The new jet is an evolution of the HESA Shafaq, a domestic design for a subsonic, light attack/combat trainer aircraft made of radar-absorbing material that never made it past a full-scale mock-up shown in some pictures that you can find on the web.
Both the Shafaq and the new Borhan, are clearly inspired to the Russian Yakovlev Yak-130 combat trainer and have an almost identical front section and large LERX (Leading Edge Root Extensions). Dealing with the tail section, whereas the Shafaq had two canted vertical stabilizers (like those of the HESA F-5E Saqeh), the only available image seems to suggest that the Borhan was designed with a single large tail, almost a perfect replica of the Yak-130’s one.
According to Mashregh News, the aircraft’s top speed will be Mach 0.65, its empty weight will be 2,800 kg and its payload will be 1,200 kg. Range should be 1,800 km.
The mock-up depicted in the first image carries fake AGM-65 Maverick and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.
Noteworthy, unlike what happened with the F-313 Qaher stealth jet, this time it would look like the Regime is not pretending the new aircraft is anything more than a mock-up.
Let’s see if this mock-up will eventually turn into a real plane some time in the future.
Eventually, a video allegedly showing the copy of Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) drone manufactured by reverse-engineering of U.S. Sentinel drone captured in December 2011 was released.
On Nov. 10, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, announced that a domestic version of the RQ-170 drone, modified to carry out both bombing and reconnaissance missions, had made its maiden flight.
“The footage of its flight will be released soon,” he told reporters.
Eventually, a video showing the copy of the Sentinel flying somewhere over Iran, filmed both from the ground and from an accompanying helicopter has been released.
The footage of the flying drone looks genuine; what seems to be a bit weird is the sequence of the RQ-170 landing on the runway: more than a UAV, the aircraft moves and reacts to the remote pilot’s input as a small remotely piloted scale model….
Since the first prototype was a smaller copy of the Sentinel (60% the size of the original RQ-170) which flew about four months ago, one might wonder whether the landing drone depicted in the footage is not the full scale replica but the smaller original prototype.
Furthermore, some frames of the landing video seem to be computer generated.
In February 2013, a video proved that they had accessed some of the data stored inside the so-called “Beast of Kandahar”: after several unsubstantiated claims, the footage was the first evidence that Iran had managed to retrieve something from the once secret drone’s internal hard disks.
“All the memories and computer systems of this plane have been decoded and some good news will be announced in the near future not just about the RQ-170 and the optimizations that our forces have done on the reversed engineered model of this drone, but also in area of other important defense achievements,” IRGC Lieutenant Commander General Hossein Salami said to the Fars News Agency last year.
On Nov. 10, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, told the press that the Iranian version of the RQ-170 drone, modified to carry out both bombing and reconnaissance missions, has already had its maiden flight.
“The footage of its flight will be released soon,” Hajizadeh told reporters according to FARS News.
According to the Iranians the American drone was brought down by the Iranian Armed Forces’ electronic warfare unit which hacked into the RQ-170 remote control systems and ordered the aircraft to land in the eastern part of the country.
Anyway, while there are chances that the engine, circuitry, lenses, memories and sensors that survived the crash landing of the CIA-operated RQ-170 might have been evaluated, tested, copied and, possibly, improved with the help of Russia and China, it’s hard to believe such hardware and remaining data have allowed Iran to move as much as 35 years ahead in building drones or their components. Especially if we consider that, unlike the X-47B and some black UAV projects like the RQ-180, the RQ-170 is no longer the American cutting edge robot tech.
Even if the FNA has published the image on a Hermes 900 UAV (a High Altitude Long Endurance UAV – with capabilities superior to those of the Hermes 450 – that has had its baptmism of fire during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza) the model involved in the incident is still unknown.
Few days ago Iran reportedly shot down an Israeli “stealth” drone near one of its nuclear enrichment facilities. But there are several weird things in Tehran authorities report of the shooting down.
On Aug. 24, several Iranian media outlets reported the news of an Israeli drone shot down near Natanz nuclear enrichment facility in central Iran.
According to FARS, the Revolutionary Guards Public (IRGC) Relations Department said that the drone was a stealth, radar-evading model targeted by a surface-to-air missile. Then, on Aug. 25, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that “The downed spy drone is Hermes and made in Israel.”
Indeed, the drone is identical to a mysterious drone shot down in 2011 by Armenian forces in the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh. At that time Azerbaijan denied the unmanned aircraft belonged to Baku. Then a drone of the same type, most probably made in Israel (with inputs from both the Hermes 180 and 450) was displayed during an Armenian parade as the following image shows.
Interestingly, the “Azeri” drone showcased in the parade (nose section has been highlighted to help identifying it in the images of wreckage) didn’t carry any national flag/roundel, unlike the other models operated by the Azerbaijani forces.
We don’t know anything about this somehow mysterious drone but its range is unlikely to make a round trip to Natanz possible from both Azerbaijan and northern Iraq (someone suggested this could be the launch area). Actually, the size of the drone is quite small, much smaller than a Hermes 450, meaning that it’s most probably a tactical, short-medium range UAV.
Indeed, most recent reports said that the aircraft was shot down “on the way” to Natanz. So, it seems more likely that the drone, made-in-Israel (although it’s not confirmed) and possibly launched from Azerbaijan was shot down/crashed somewhere closer to the border and then moved near Natanz.
H/T to Giuliano Ranieri and Farzam Mir for providing additional details to this report.