After several unsubstantiated claims, the footage was the first evidence that Iran had found something interesting in the UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and its 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.
It’s not clear whether the Sentinel-replica has already performed its maiden flight; nor is any eventual modification the Iranian engineers did to the original model. For sure, footage of the drone being flown in Iran would be the proof, the one displayed at Tehran today is something more than a model.
The traditional military parades at mausoleum of the Late Founder of Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, south of capital Tehran saw the flyover of several warplanes, including the legendary F-14 Tomcat.
On Apr. 18 Iran celebrated the National Army Day with a traditional and interesting flypast of most of its active warplanes. Eight formations for an overall 27 aircraft took part in the aerial parade: not really “massive” as some Iranian media wrote, still an interesting opportunity to see the majority of the IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) fighters and bombers in the air.
The flypast featured F-5F Tiger, F-5E Saeqeh, FT-7N, Mirage F.1EQs, F-14A Tomcat, F-4E Phantom, Mig-29UB Fulcrum and Su-24Mk Fencer divided in 8 formations.
One of the formation was a mixed flight made of a Mig-29UB, an F-4E, an F-14A, a Mirage F.1BQ-3 and a Su-24Mk.
As highlighted by a member of the ACIG.org forum, both Mirage F.1BQ-3s were carrying F-5E/F external fuel tanks thanks to domestically designed and manufactured underwing pylons.
Recent satellite imagery showed Tehran is building a fake U.S. aircraft. New photographs prove that Iran’s Nimitz class mock flattop hosts several (fake) planes, including some CAG birds and a Jolly Rogers F/A-18 Hornet.
Iran is not only working on a mock American aircraft carrier. New images posted on Facebook show that the USS Nimitz class ship being assembled in an Iranian shipyard on the Persian Gulf most probably for propaganda purposes (do you remember the F-313 Qaher stealth jet?) or as a movie prop, now features also some embarked planes.
Noteworthy, along with some F-5 Tiger aircraft (serving with the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force but not existing in a carrier-variant) parked on the flight deck of the fake Iranian carrier there are also some fake F/A-18 Hornets.
One of the two in special color scheme sports the unique livery and markings of the legendary VFA-103 “Jolly Rogers”.
The Jolly Rogers are one of the most famous squadron in U.S. Navy. They currently fly the F/A-18F Super Hornet adorned with Ensign Jack Ernie’s skull-and-crossbones on all-black tails, their symbol and probably the most recognizable one in Naval Aviation (to such an extent you can find it in Disney’s “Planes” cartoon).
The reason for using CAG (Carrier Air Group) planes in special colors makes Iran’s mysterious aircraft carrier’s flight deck slightly more realistic but the question remains: why did Tehran spend so much money to build such a huge model?
Here you can find some new photographs taken from aboard the U.S. flattop as the P-3F took a close look at the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (ok, it’s not really buzzing the tower, but it’s not that far away).
It’s unclear whether the “flyby” was conducted on the same day the Iranian plane was escorted by the Hornet; still, the new images not only prove close encounters in the region occur but they also clearly show the indiscreet Orion in the “exotic” IRIAF color scheme.
Image credit: U.S. Navy via Militaryphotos.net (thanks to FdeStV and Kasra Ghanbari for the heads-up)