Even if we have often reported the presence of the F-22 Raptors at Al Dhafra, satellite imagery showing five radar evading planes parked at the main airbase in the UAE has been made publicly available for the first time recently.
The aircraft, parked next to an F-15E Strike Eagle, are five of the six F-22 that had (more or less secretely) deployed in South East Asia from Holloman New Mexico, via Moron, Spain, on Apr. 20, 2012.
The image is not only interesting because it shows the main U.S. Air Force plane about 100 miles from Iran, but also because it is the first one to show fast jets on one of most important U.S. airbases in the region.
Using the time option on Google Earth, you may even observe how the airbase has grown since 2004: the large apron in front of the light hangars where the F-22 were parked in April 2012, did not exist in the satellite image taken 9 years ago.
Image credit: Google Earth
Moreover, if you watch the imagery of the subsequent years you will notice that only support planes (E-3s, KC-135s etc) could be seen stationed at Al Dhafra: the presence of the F-22s beginning in 2012, is a clear sign of how the situation in the region has gradually changed with an increasing tension with Iran.
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If not stealthy, at least it is capable to fly.
The following video proves the “Hamaseh”, the “reconnaissance and combat drone” displayed on May 9 during a ceremony attended by Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, has already conducted flying testing.
Although it can fly, something that was never doubted, and painted in a less fashionable manner, it remains unstealthy.
Image credit: FARS News Agency
Iran unveils new “indigenous stealth reconnaissance, combat drone” that will never evade radars May 9, 2013Posted by David Cenciotti in : Drones, Iran , 20comments
Here we go with another Iranian indigenous project.
Dubbed “Hamaseh”, the “reconnaissance and combat drone” displayed on May 9 during a ceremony attended by Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, “has been built by defense industry experts and is simultaneously capable of surveillance, reconnaissance and missile and rocket attacks.”
The drone, a HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) type, “can avoid detection by the enemy” thanks to its stealth features, according to Vahidi.
Although, unlike the Qaher 313, the Hamaseh drone is probably capable to fly because its shape is aerodynamically plausible, it simply can’t be stealth: the unretractable landing gear, the weapons hanging from the wings, the glaring paint job and the unsheltered wooden push propeller make the UAV very well visible to radars.
Image credit: FARS News Agency
“Tehran’s newly unveiled stealth fighter will protect the Persian Gulf,” Iranian official says April 18, 2013Posted by David Cenciotti in : Iran, Military Aviation , 8comments
Even if the Qaher 313, is no more than a mock-up that will never fly unless it is almost completely redesigned, Iran insists its new home-made stealth fighter aircraft unveiled on Feb. 2, 2013, is “not a paper model” but an “aircraft designed by the Islamic Republic for anti-choppers missions.”
Furthermore the F-313′s mission would be “protecting security in the Persian Gulf.”
This is what a senior Iranian defense ministry official said on Apr. 16 according to the FARS News Agency.
Addressing a group of Iranian soldiers, Deputy Defense Minister General Majid Bokayee pointed to the “confused remarks made by the US military analysts about the features and specifications of the aircraft,” explaining that the Qaher 313, designed and developed at a cost of 2 to 3 million USD, has a “unique” structure, will be armed with home-made weapons and equipments and it will feature capabilities that will stun enemies on the battlefield.
According to the Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, the Qaher 313 is an advanced aircraft with a very small Radar Cross Section, capable of taking off from short runways and flying at low altitude like no other most advanced western plane.
Judge by yourself.
Iranian F-4 Phantom jets fail to intercept U.S. Predator off Iran. Once again. Scared by F-22 escort? March 14, 2013Posted by David Cenciotti in : Drones, Iran, Military Aviation , 11comments
According to a statement by Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, on Mar. 12, an IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) combat plane attempted to intercept a U.S. MQ-1 drone flying in international airspace.
As happened on Nov. 1, 2012, when two Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes operated by the Pasdaran (informal name of the IRGC – the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution) attempted to shoot down an American MQ-1 flying a routine surveillance flight in international airspace some 16 miles off Iran, the interception of the unmanned aircraft failed.
Interestingly, the last close encounter was unsuccessful because the fighter jets scrambled to intercept the unarmed U.S. drone were discouraged from accomplishing the mission: at least one of the two F-4 Phantom jets came to about 16 miles from the UAV but broke off pursuit after they were broadcast a warning message by two American planes escorting the Predator.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force
Clearly, following last year’s close encounter the Pentagon has decided to escort the drones involved in intelligence gathering missions with fighter jets (either F-18 Hornets with the CVW 9 embarked on the USS John C. Stennis whose Carrier Strike Group is currently in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility or F-22 Raptors like those deployed to the UAE).
Although dispatching fighter jets to escort drones makes them less vulnerable, it makes also the UAV more visible. Unless the fighter jets providing HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) are F-22 stealth fighters.
Few days ago, Iran recovered from sea a mysterious drone; most probably an Iranian one.