Iran Unveils New Domestic “Fourth-generation” Fighter Jet. But It’s Just An Upgraded F-5F Tiger…

Iran claims it’s a new aircraft, but it’s just a +40 years old two-seat F-5….

Iranian media says that a new Iranian fighter jet was exhibited during the National Defense Industry show. Images released by various outlets show President Hassan Rouhani sitting in the cockpit of the new “Kowsar” plane, a “fourth-generation fighter”, with “advanced avionics” and multi-purpose radar.

However, the images and footage released of the “100-percent indigenously made” aircraft clearly show a quite obsolete F-5F Tiger.

Whilst the aircraft identification is easy, Iranian aviation journalist Babak Taghvaee has obtained some details about the aircraft who he has posted on Twitter. In short, the aircraft is a rebuilt F-5F that was equipped with some new digital avionics. For sure nothing comparable to a modern aircraft (like an F/A-18, a Mirage 2000 or more, such as a Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, etc.)

In fact, the aircraft is more a testbed for something more advanced than a real new jet.

So, the real new aircraft, dubbed “Kowsar” wasn’t ready for today’s presentation, therefore the Iranians brought the F-5F used to test its avionics. Neither the media nor the authorities disclosed this detail..

Iran is not new to such claims. You will probably remember the famous Qaher F-313 stealth fighter jet, an aircraft that was nothing more than a poorly designed mock-up that would never fly unless it was extensively modified and heavily improved: the cockpit was basic for any modern plane, the air intakes appeared to be too small, the engine section lacked any kind of nozzle meaning that the engine would probably melt the aircraft’s back-end. Above all, the aircraft was way too small to such an extent its cockpit could not fit a normal-sized human being.

Footage and photographs showing a new prototype (marked “08”) of the Qaher F-313 emerged last year as Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani participated  in an exhibition: the “upgraded version” of the “faux stealth fighter” could be observed performing some taxi tests. Nothing serious in spite what Iranian Aerospace companies have been able to achieve in the past. Here’s what this Author wrote commenting the F-313 “farce”:

Iranian engineers have been able of some impressive achievements in spite of the embargo imposed after the 1979 Revolution: for instance, the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) remains the world’s only operator of the F-14 Tomcat, that Tehran continues to maintain airworthy and enhanced with some domestic avionics upgrades and weapons.

Moreover, Iran is pretty advanced in terms of production and export of drones: Iranian UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are quite popular in the Middle East, where some of them have been extensively used in combat over Syria.

Anyway, as with the F-313, the latest claims about the “new advanced 4th Gen. aircraft” are not based on a real aircraft with real capabilities but appears to be just a product for domestic propaganda.

Iran claims it has produced a new, advanced fighter plane. But the photographs show an F-5F. (All images credit: Tasnim News

 

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About David Cenciotti 3629 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.