Category Archives: Iran

Here’s Why The Claim That Two Israeli F-35 Stealth Jets Entered Iranian Airspace Does Not Make Any Sense

Two Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-35 stealth fighters flew over Syrian and Iraqi airspace to reach Iran, report says. Most probably, just fake news or PSYOPS.

The Jerusalem Post has just published an article, that is slowly spreading through the social media, about an alleged IAF F-35 mission into the Iranian airspace originally reported by the Kuwaiti Al-Jarida newspaper. According to an “informed source” who talked to Al-Jarida, earlier this month, two Aidr stealth jets flew undetected over Syria and Iraq and snuck into the Iranian airspace, flying reconnaissance missions over the Iranian cities Bandar Abbas, Esfahan and Shiraz.

Here’s an excerpt (highlight mine):

“The report states that the two fighter jets, among the most advanced in the world, circled at high altitude above Persian Gulf sites suspected of being associated with the Iranian nuclear program. It also states that the two jets went undetected by radar, including by the Russian radar system located in Syria. The source refused to confirm if the operation was undertaken in coordination with the US army, which has recently conducted joint exercises with the IDF.

The source added that the seven F-35 fighters in active service in the IAF have conducted a number of missions in Syria and on the Lebanese-Syrian border. He underlined that the fighter jets can travel from Israel to Iran twice without refueling.

There are many weird things.

First of all the source. Al-Jarida is often used to deliver Israeli propaganda/PSYOPS messages, according to several sources. For instance, here’s how Haaretz commented a previous scoop of the Kuwaiti outlet (again, highlight mine):

“Al-Jarida, which in recent years had broken exclusive stories from Israel, quoted a source in Jerusalem as saying that “there is an American-Israeli agreement” that Soleimani is a “threat to the two countries’ interests in the region.” It is generally assumed in the Arab world that the paper is used as an Israeli platform for conveying messages to other countries in the Middle East.

Then, the Israeli Air Force operates more than seven F-35s (at least 9) and their range (about 2,000 km) does not allow the aircraft in stealth mode (i.e. without external fuel tanks) to fly to Iran, twice, without stopover or aerial refueling.

And, above all, although the involvement of the F-35 in real missions has been considered “imminent” by some analysts since the Israeli Air Force declared its first F-35 “Adir” operational on Dec. 6, 2017, it’s highly unlikely such a mission, if real, would be leaked.

Although the IAF has a long history of pioneering new aircraft and use new weapons systems in real combat pretty soon, this has usually happened for quite complex and daring missions with a real stategic value. In this case, flying a couple of its few new F-35s for a “simple” reconnaissance mission over Iran would not be worth the risk. And what would be the purpose of carrying out this mission and leaking the news? A “show of force” for deterrence? Or to demostrate the world (and the regional opponents) the IAF’s ability to freely operate inside the Syrian and Iranian airspaces, especially after suffering the loss of an F-16I earlier this year?

Indeed, on Feb. 10, 2018, Israeli F-16 fighter jets entered Syrian airspace, striking 12 Iranian targets in Syria in response to an Iranian drone that was shot down over Israel by an AH-64 Apache helicopter. One F-16I Sufa crashed during the air strikes, after being targeted by the Syrian Air Defenses. Many sources suggested that the first loss of an IAF jet to the enemy fire since the First Lebanon War could accelerate the commitment of the stealthy F-35Is for the subsequent missions. This is true, even though rushing a new and somehow immature aircraft into combat has some inherent risks.

In his story about the F-35I IOC (Initial Operational Capability) at The War Zone, journalist Joseph Trevithik wrote:

With limited numbers of the jets on hand, the IAF will have to decide whether or not to make a statement or make sure the aircraft it does have are in reserve for contingencies that absolutely require their advanced capabilities, such as quelling a more imminent threat against Israel itself or attacking targets over-long range that are defended by an advanced integrated air defense assets.

I completely agree.

This is what I wrote here at The Aviationist about the F-35 Adir’s possible involvement in the air strikes on Syria, you can expand it to consider the even more dangerous scenario in Iran:

“[…] the heavy presence of Russian radars and ELINT platforms in Syria cause some concern: the Russians are currently able to identify takeoffs from Israeli bases in real-time and might use collected data to “characterize” the F-35’s signature at specific wavelengths as reportedly done with the U.S. F-22s.

In fact, tactical fighter-sized stealth aircraft are built to defeat radar operating at specific frequencies; usually high-frequency bands as C, X, Ku and S band where the radar accuracy is higher (in fact, the higher the frequency, the better is the accuracy of the radar system).

However, once the frequency wavelength exceeds a certain threshold and causes a resonant effect, LO aircraft become increasingly detectable. For instance, ATC radars, that operate at lower-frequency bands are theoretically able to detect a tactical fighter-sized stealth plane whose shape features parts that can cause resonance. Radars that operate at bands below 300 MHz (lower UHF, VHF and HF radars), such as the so-called Over The Horizon (OTH) radars, are believed to be particularly dangerous for stealth planes: although they are not much accurate (because lower frequency implies very large antenna and lower angle accuracy and angle resolution) they can spot stealth planes and be used to guide fighters equipped with IRST towards the direction the LO planes might be.

For these reasons, in the same way the U.S. spyplanes do with all the Russian Su-35S, Su-30SM, S-400 in Syria, it’s safe to assume Russian advanced anti-aircraft systems are “targeting” the Israeli F-35s and its valuable emissions, forcing the IAF to adapt its procedures and leverage the presence of other aircraft to “hide” the “Adir” when and where it could theoretically be detected. “This has created a situation in which the IAF is adapting itself to the F-35 instead of adapting the jet to the air force. The goal, they say at the IAF, is to use the F-35 to upgrade the fourth generation jets that will fly around the F-35,” commented Al-Monitor’s Ben Caspit.

Meanwhile the Israeli F-35s will probably see some action, validating the tactical procedures to be used by the new aircraft, fine tuning the ELINT capabilities of the “Adir” to detect, geolocate and classify enemy‘s new/upgraded systems, as well as testing the weapons system (and the various Israeli “customizations”) during real operations as part of “packages” that will likely include other special mission aircraft and EW (Electronic Warfare) support.

But only if really needed: the Israeli Air Force “legacy” aircraft have often shown their ability to operate freely in the Syrian airspace, using stand-off weaponry, without needing most of the fancy 5th generation features; therefore, it’s safe to assume the Israelis will commit their new aircraft if required by unique operational needs, as already happened in the past (in 1981, the first Israeli F-16s took part in Operation Opera, one of the most famous operations in Israeli Air Force history, one year after the first “Netz” aircraft was delivered and before all the F-16As were taken on charge by the IAF).”

There have been a series ofunconfirmed rumors that the F-35Is have been used to attack Syrian targets, but there is no confirmation that the jets have flown any combat missions yet. The mission over Iran seems to be just one of these: a bogus claim most probably spread on purpose as part of some sort of PSYOPS aimed at threatening Israel’s enemies.

Obviously, this does not change the fact that the more they operate and test their new F-35 stealth aircraft, the higher the possibilities the IAF will use the Adirs for the real thing when needed. But this does not seem the case. At least not in Iran and not now.

Anyway, we will continue to monitor the situation and will update this post accordingly.

Watch An Iranian F-4E Phantom Do A Roll Near A U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet During A Close Encounter

An Iranian Phantom performs what loosely reminds a Top Gun stunt while “intercepting” an American Super Hornet.

We don’t know when nor where this was filmed, still the footage, reportedly shot from an Iranian Phantom’s WSO (Weapons Systems Officer) seems genuine. It allegedly shows a U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shadowed by an IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) F-4E Phantom during a close encounter occurred somewhere over the Middle East.

The clip shows the American multirole aircraft starting a left turn and the Iranian F-4 performing a displacement roll most probably to keep the Super Hornet in sight: a maneuver that vaguely reminds the one performed in a famous scene of Top Gun.

According to some sources, the rear cockpit of the aircraft filming the “Rhino” (as the Super Hornet is dubbed in the U.S. Navy – yes, the F-4 was nicknamed Rhino because of its aggressive look but the Super Bug community “stole” it) appears to be too large for a Phantom suggesting it might be an F-14 Tomcat…

Close encounters in international airspace off Iran as well as over Iraq and Syria (where the Iranian F-4s have operated) occur quite frequently. Some funny anecdotes have emerged following these intercepts.

In 2012, two Sukhoi Su-25 jets 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. Although the interception of the unmanned aircraft failed, the Pentagon decided to escort the drones involved in ISR (intelligence surveillance reconnaissance) missions with fighter jets (F-18 Hornets from aircraft carriers operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility or F-22 Raptors deployed to Al Dhafra in the UAE). Few months later, in March 2013, a flight of two IRIAF F-4s attempted to intercept a U.S. MQ-1 drone flying in international airspace off Iran: one of the two Phantom jets came within about 16 miles from the UAV but broke off pursuit after an F-22 Raptor providing HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) flew under their the F-4 “to check out their weapons load without them knowing that he was there, and then pulled up on their left wing and then called them and said “you really ought to go home.”

Most of times, such close encounters are uneventful; however, earlier this year, a Syrian Su-22 Fitter was shot down by a U.S. Navy F/A-18E belonging to the VFA-87 “Golden Warriors” and piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Michael “Mob” Tremel,” 40 km to the southwest of Raqqa, Syria. The Syrian jet had just conducted an air strike on the anti-regime Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) aligned with the U.S. led Coalition.

Anyway, take a look at the clip. Provided the video is not doctored, where did this close encounter took place?

Let us know.



H/T our friend @winstoncdn for the heads-up

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U.S. F-15E Downs Iranian-Built Syrian Drone After Airstrike on U.S. Led Forces

Syrian Drone Destroyed by Strike Eagle After It Engaged Anti-Assad Coalition Ground Forces. Second air-to-air kill for the Strike Eagle since Gulf War.

U.S. Special Operations advisors leading anti-Assad Syrian forces came under fire from an Iranian built Shahed 129 drone operated by Syrian pro-government forces on Thursday according to the U.S. Army.

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle shot the drone down.

The incident occurred outside Al-Tanf, southern Syria close to the Jordanian border. An installation in Al –Tanf serves as a forward operating base for British and U.S. special operations teams assisting the anti-ISIL Syrian guerilla group Maghawir al-Thawra or “Commandos of the Revolution”. Maghawir al-Thawra is regarded as an indigenous special operations group who have received training and support from coalition forces to fight the Assad regime.

The U.S. reacted to the drone attack by tasking an F-15E Strike Eagle to locate and destroy the Syrian drone. It was officially the first time U.S. forces had come under air attack by a hostile nation in nearly 20 years and the second air-to-air kill for the Strike Eagle since the downing of an Iraqi Gunship helicopter in 1991.

According to U.S. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), the Assad government Syrian drone strike on U.S. advisors and Syrian revolutionary commandos “did not have an effect on coalition forces,”

“The pro-regime UAV, similar in size to the U.S. MQ-1 predator, was shot down by U.S. aircraft after it dropped one of several weapons it was carrying near a position occupied by coalition personnel who are training and advising partner ground forces in the fight against ISIL,” CJTF-OIR’s public affairs office released in a statement. “The shoot down follows an earlier engagement in the day in which Coalition forces destroyed two pro-regime armed technical vehicles that advanced inside the well established de-confliction zone threatening Coalition and partner forces.”

Pentagon Correspondent Tara Copp was among the first to release the U.S. aircraft involved in the drone shoot-down incident (Twitter)

A 34-mile region around Al-Tanf has been declared a “de-confliction zone” by coalition forces for the past several weeks. This buffer was established to safeguard U.S. and British supported anti-Assad forces. Several incidents have taken place recently inside this de-confliction zone that have prompted a U.S. response. On Tuesday, a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet dropped four bombs killing an estimated 10 pro-Assad combatants and destroyed several of their vehicles.

It is also likely the pro-Assad forces controlling the Iranian made Shahed 129 drone were in close proximity to the drone itself at the time it attacked U.S. advised anti-Assad forces. The Shahed 129 can be controlled by satellite guidance from a remote ground station, but this example was almost certainly controlled by a local ground controller with line-of-sight to the Syrian Shahed 129 when it was destroyed by the U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle.

The incident is significant since U.S. ground forces in the region and, in the entire history of the Global War of Terror, have been largely immune from air attacks. The Iranian-made Shahed 129 drone was also employed by Hezbollah in a 2012 operation over Israel. The Israelis downed the Iranian-made, Hezbollah-controlled drone but the incident marked a dangerous escalation in terrorist capabilities.

The Iranian-built Shahed 129 armed drone (Iranian News Media)

 

New Photos And Video of Iran’s Homemade F-313 “Qaher” Stealth Jet Have Just Emerged. And Here’s A First Analysis

A new prototype of the weird Qaher 313 stealth jet has conducted taxi tests.

Footage and photographs showing a new prototype (marked “08”) of the famous Qaher F-313 stealth fighter jet have just emerged as Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani participated Saturday in an exhibition displaying the achievements that the Defense Ministry Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan gained during the past two years.

Indeed, an “upgraded version” of the “faux stealth fighter” can be observed performing taxi tests. The aircraft appears to be slightly different from the one unveiled on Feb. 2, 2013, that was nothing more than a poorly designed mock-up that would never fly unless it was extensively modified and heavily improved.

Four years ago, 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.

The new prototype (via Defence.pk)

The new prototype retains the original weird shape but has a more realistic cockpit, large enough to accommodate an Iranian test pilot on an ejection seat, with a “normal” canopy (the previous one was clearly made of plexiglass), and a dorsal antenna. It is equipped with dual exhaust nozzles: according to some sources these are U.S. engines, according to others these would be new turbofan engines or modified Iranian J-85s. And, interestingly, a sort of FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red) turret was attached to the nose of the aircraft, that also features a white radome.

Although the new prototype is not a complete joke as its predecessor, it is still pretty hard to say whether it will be able to take to the air and land safely without further modifications: the intakes continue to appear smaller than normal (as commented back in 2013, they remind those of current drones/unmanned combat aerial vehicles); the wing are small as well and feature the peculiar design with the external section canted downward whose efficiency is not clear.

As already explained here in the past, 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.

So, let’s be prudent and wait once again for more footage about the F-313 to see if it will eventually be modified to become something real, with a real capability or just a concept or a funny DIY jet.

By the way, according to the latest statements, the Qaher F-313 will be a light close air support aircraft.

H/T to “Al D” for the heads-up

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“Qaher F-313, Tehran’s homemade stealth jet, in final production stage” Iran’s Defense Minister claims

Do you remember the Iranian stealth jet that was unveiled in 2013 and looked like a fake plane? Well, it would be in the final stages of production according to Tehran.

Little more than 4 years ago, Iran unveiled the Qaher F-313 stealth fighter jet “one of the most sophisticated fighter jets in the world,” according to Tehran.

Even if Iranian media outlets published articles that listed the aircraft’s top features, based on the first images released on Feb. 2, 2013, we explained that the Qaher was just a mock-up that would never fly unless it was extensively modified and improved.

In fact, the cockpit seemed too basic for a modern plane, the air intakes too small , the engine section lacked any kind of nozzle (meaning that the engine, with or without afterburner) would probably melt the aircraft’s back-end) and, generally speaking, the aircraft was way too small. Some of our readers may remember a photo of an Iranian pilot sitting in a cockpit that could not fit a normal-sized human being.

Almost nothing about this jet has emerged since then, besides a single shot that allegedly showed the Qaher being moved to be prepared for taxi tests.

Until, Mar. 5, 2017, when Iran’s defense minister, General Hossein Dehqan, claimed that work on the domestic radar-evading plane is complete and the Qaher is now ready for testing, as reported by the Iranian semi-official news agency Fars News.

We have just widely explained that the flying aircraft shown in a video released in 2013 is a radio controlled model and that some our Iranian readers have said that the one displayed 4 years ago was not intended to be an actual plane but a drone.

Noteworthy, unlike it described the homemade F-313 when it was first (somehow) rolled-out, Fars News is today a bit more prudent: “Qaher is a logistic aircraft for short distances and is a light fighter jet used for military and training operations. Some military analysts have stated that Qaher is a fifth generation aircraft.”

Manned or unmanned, for what we have seen so far, the Qaher will hardly take to the air. However, Iranian engineers have already proved to be able of some impressive works: for instance, the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) remains the world’s only operator of the Tomcat, a type of interceptor that Tehran has been able to kept airworthy and somehow enhance with some domestic avionics upgrades and weapons throughout the years in spite of the embargo imposed after the 1979 Revolution. Moreover, Iran has been able to successfully produce and export several UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), some of those have been extensively used in combat over Syria, others, allegedly based on the captured U.S. drones.

So, let’s wait until some new image or footage of the F-313 is unveiled to see if the latest claims are based on a real aircraft with real capabilities or it’s just domestic propaganda.

Image credit: FARS News, “Iranian Spotters” via Pakistan Defence forum