Tag Archives: Iranian Air Force

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

 

Top Gun Reloaded: F-14 Tomcats take off for night missions. Few days ago, in Iran.

World’s last active service F-14 Tomcat jets took part in a large exercise in Iran. And are some really cool shots.

The U.S. Navy retired the legendary F-14 in September 2006. Nowadays, 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.

The Persian Tomcats, that the IRIAF plans to fly until 2030, are based at TFB.8 (Tactical Fighter Base 8) Baba’i near Eshahan, in central Iran.

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“TFB.8 has three F-14 Squadrons with total 62 F-14As but only almost half are airworthy at this moment; just 35 according to the 2013 records” says Iranian Defense Journalist and writer Babak Taghvaee.

“During this three days exercise six of the best F-14As of the 82nd and 83rd Tactical Fighter Squadrons participated. Why the best? Because IRIAF has two types of F-14As: PMC (Partially Mission-Capable) ones, usually suitable for Training and can become FMC in case of war. And Fully Mission-Capable Tomcats with fully operable fire control system, armament system and INS. These FMC F-14As are usually used for 24/7 Quick Reaction Alert and other combat missions (Usually 70% of the airworthy Tomcats are FMC).”

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According to Taghvaee at least six of these FMC Tomcats, including an F-14AM, took part to the exercise and for first time in ten years pilots had chance to renew their AIM-9 and AIM-7 AAM launch skills.

“The F-14s were used in simulated HVACAP, BARCAP and CAP. Escorted F-4Es in first night of exercise. Then engaged with MiG-29s in morning of second day. And launched missiles today morning (Last and third day). They also escorted the Tanker airplanes.”

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Last year, Iranian Air Force F-14 Tomcat interceptors escorted Russian Air Force Tu-95 Bear bombers flying in Iranian airspace during their 9h 30mins missions (from Engels airbase and back, along the Iraq-Iran-Caspian Sea 6,500 km-long corridor) against targets in Syria.

F-14AMs (“Modernized”) include domestic avionics (radar and RWR) and weapons: R-73E, AIM-54A, AIM-7E and AIM-9J are among the air-to-air missiles adapted to the aircraft’s fire control system.

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Some Iranian Tomcats are also given a three-tone Asian Minor II camouflage pattern loosely resembling the “splintered” one adopted by Russian 4th and 5th generation fighter planes and U.S. Aggressors.

Image credit: FARS News

The most interesting Warplanes of the Iranian Air Force Open Day

Every year from Mar. 21 to Mar. 31 the regular Iranian Air Force holds an open house and exhibition similar to those one might see in North America or European nations.

The Open Day of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force is a legacy left from the former Imperial Iranian Air Force where military installations were opened to public more often than not.

Actually, the recent air show at Dezful 4th air base also coincides with the Persian Norooz and the annual trips to former Iran-Iraq war fronts/trenches taken by the enthusiastic Iranian public.

IRIAF 2

Among the aircraft on display, obviously, several U.S. types locally modified, including the legendary IRIAF F-14 Tomcat, the F-4E Phantom (like the two involved in a close encounter with an American F-22 over the Persian Gulf last year) and the F-5 Tiger.

IRIAF 4

The IRIAF still operates some Mig-29 Fulcrums as the one depicted in the image below.

IRIAF 5

Su-24 Fencer:

IRIAF 6

Image credit: Danial Behmanesh/nahaja.aja.ir

 

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Iran’s mysterious military plane crashes that amount to “mass purges”

On Jan. 5, 1995 the entire senior commanders of the regular Iranian Air Force (HQ’s general staff) were killed in a suspicious plane crash near the city of Isfahan. Among the dead were several generals including the Iranian Air Force’s commander Gen. Mansour Sattari, the air force’s deputy commanders Gen. Yassini, Gen. Ardestani and a few other high ranking officers.

The cause of the crash is still unknown.

The IRIAF’s board of inquiry never released its findings, if they found any. Some attributed the cause of crash to be ‘pilot error’ as some recalled the pilot being a ‘flight training school reject’ who was about to be dismissed. But why give the control of a VIP aircraft with a dozen VIP passengers to a ‘flight school reject’ then?

Gen Sattari 1

The Iranian regime is known to be hostile to the regular Iranian armed forces (Air Force, Army and Navy).

The first round of mass purges came right after the Ayatollahs’ seizure of power in February 1979. At the time, they mercilessly executed almost all the Shah’s armed forces generals and those who were deemed anti-revolutionary. It is believed that upwards of 9,000 military service-members were executed between February 1979 and October 1980, while hundreds were let go under bogus circumstances. Among those who were killed, there were dozens of highly trained fighter pilots, technicians and war planners whose absence left Iran almost defense-less against the Iraqi onslaught during the coming 8 year long war.

The second round of mass executions came in 1983-84 when several senior naval and ground forces officers were charged with ‘membership in Tudeh (communist party of Iran) party’ and summarily executed. Many claim that these men’s main crime was protesting the regime’s plans to expand the war and seize Iraqi territory. These senior officers believed the war objective of ejecting Iraq from Iran’s territory had been achieved and it was time to settle for peace.

But these mass executions and death squads are the official purges we know about. And the Iranian regime is actually proud of its work in ‘cleansing the earth from corrupt individuals’. The notion of ‘eradicating the corrupt from the face of the earth is very common in Iran.

Being ‘corrupt’ or ‘Mofsed’ is also a charge that the regime lays on any one who might be deemed counter-revolutionary or un-islamic.

And then there are purges we do not know about or haven’t heard much about.

The first of these came in September of 1981. The then commander of the Iranian AF Javad Fakouri along with the Chief of Staff of Iran’s armed forces General Fallahi, Defense Minister Namjou (all western oriented senior officers) died in a mysterious crash aboard a C-130 Hercules transport plane, while returning from an inspection tour of the Iranian military gains in the war against Saddam’s army.

Again, no official cause of the crash was ever released. Through these violent mass executions and lay offs, the new Islamic regime solidified its control over what was dubbed the Shah’s “Taghuti” Armed Forces.

As mentioned earlier, the entire command and general staff of the regular Iranian Air Force (IRIAF) was decimated in a mysterious ‘Lockheed JetStarII’ plane crash.

Gen. Sattari (a ground radar control officer by training) had become commander of the Iranian AF in 1986 at a time when the air force was under enormous pressure, and lacked any serious capability during the last phase of the war with Iraq. He’d become famous for introducing I-HAWK air defense missile batteries as battlefield mobile air defense systems. Through personal innovation and initiative, he single handedly was responsible for downing dozens of Iraqi aircraft. His connections with the current president of Iran who was chief of civil and military defense at the time paid off in 1986, and he was appointed the commander of the air force.

Gen Sattari

Though not known for being pro-Shah or remotely western, he had an independent streak that led him to be distrusted by the regime. He had grand plans to modernize the battered air force and pushed to purchase new aircraft (MiG-29s, Sukhoi-24, F-7 Chengdu… etc) and wished to strengthen the weakened air arm under his command. He retained many of the US trained pilots and technicians. He fought tooth and nail to have many of the western trained personnel be returned to active duty since their expertise were needed to maintain the western aircraft.

Those plans were not favored by a regime that regards the regular army as ‘Taghuti’ and relies on the ‘Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’ to protect the Islamic revolution. Not to mention using the IRGC as a check against the regular military. (IRGC has seized or established grounds/bases near every major regular military base in Iran).

Once those senior commanders (read obstacles) were killed, the regime went into one of its mass purges again. Dismissal rates increased, dissident personnel were thrown in jail, any one who voiced his concern against rampant corruption was jailed, cronyism grew larger as the new commander of the IRIAF Gen. Baghae’e (known as ‘Choopan’ or herder, for his love of goats, cows and sheep) turned the air force bases around the country into herding grounds, and started using the air force’s conscript soldiers as slave laborers in the regime’s oil and gas projects through out the country. He basically did what he was told to do: keep an important branch of the regular military weak and incompetent.

At the time of the ‘JetStarII crash’ in Isfahan in January of 1995, many within the air force community believed the cause of the incident was ‘a package’ given to a crew member as a gift. Did the ‘gift’ explode mid-air causing the loss of cabin pressure and subsequent loss of life and aircraft in the process? No one knows.

But the history of military purges in Iran tells me that the regime did not want General Sattari and co to run the regular air force.

What better way to dismiss these men in a mysterious mid-air crash than to risk upsetting 1/3rd of Iran’s mostly pro-western US trained regular military?

Winston Smith for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: The Spirit of Man, Wiki

 

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Iran's next generation fighter jet testbed unveiled (and it looks like an F-5 attached to a Tupolev 154)

On Aug. 21, the first avionics and radar testbed for what it’s thought to be the Saeqeh V fighter jet, made a sudden appearance on the images taken during the presentation of six types of new military equipment held in Tehran.

In fact, according to FARS, the aircraft was showcased during a presentation that included the fourth generation of Fateh 110 missile, Bonian 4 marine engine, Armita space test laboratory, Aras tactical vehicle, Vafa mortar-launcher, and Shahed navigation system.

The front section of the new fighter (an advanced version of the Saeqeh, a modified F-5 with Hornet-like tails) is attached to the tail of a  Tu-154 testbed that will be used for high speed tests.

Although we don’t know anything of this “new” aircraft, the military significance of this alleged next generation plane is at least questionable. However, this experimental plane shows that the Iranian aerospace industry is quite active, not only on UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) technologies.

Screen captures from the Iranian TV.