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A tale of fact and fiction

Posted 13 September 2017 · Add Comment

Iran paraded many new defence products and capabilities during a major show in April but what was actual achievement and what was merely propaganda? Babak Taghvaee sorts out the fact from the fiction.

President Hasan Rouhani’s government, The Iranian Ministry of Defense, The Iranian Aviation Industries Organization (IAIO), and the Iranian Defense Industries Organization (IDIO) pulled out all the stops as they unveiled their latest defence equipment for public consumption on April 15.
The trouble was that, along with some genuine major achievements, there were a number of items that were there merely for propaganda purposes. And it is some of these that stole the headlines.
Take the Qaher F-313 fifth generation combat aircraft for example. Reported to be a sub-sonic close air support aircraft with limited air-to-air combat capability, it drew the attention of the media more than all the other unveiled products.
The original mock-up of the aircraft was first unveiled during a propaganda ceremony in February 2013 in front of former president Mahmood Ahmadi-Nejad.
Unfortunately, the aircraft was suffering from a number of obvious design flaws, which caused derision in the international press. The project was suspended and then quickly stopped after the Iranian presidential election in May 2013. The former IACI CEO, Hossein Parvaneh, who supervised the project, was dismissed amid allegations of corruption.
In 2016, after Russia turned down Iran’s request to procure at least 48 Su-30SMs and 24 Yak-130s, the Iranian MoD was put under pressure to speed up the development of the Kowsar-88 future advanced jet trainer and also reactivated the unfortunate Qaher F-313 project.
Subsequently, in September 2016, work started on design and construction of a new Qaher F-313 mock-up. It was completed in March and unveiled (again) as Qaher 313 on April 15. It was equipped with a larger two-piece canopy, dual wheel nose landing gear, and a pair of General Electric J85-GE-13 Turbojet engines, which provided power for it to taxi – but that’s about all.
The other ‘hoax’ achievement demonstrated to the president was the Saba-248 utility helicopter, which was claimed to be completely designed and manufactured by the Iran Helicopter Support and Renewal Company (IHSRC) domestically while, in fact, it was a recycled Tara Helicopter Services Agusta A109E, which had been damaged due to a hard landing a couple of years before.
These ‘fakes’ overshadowed the real and genuine defence achievements in the media.
The Iranian Aircraft Manufacturing Industries (IAMI) Kowsar-88 Advanced Jet Trainer, for example, and the Babaiee Missile Industries Fakkur-90 semi-active radar homing air-to-air missile, are two genuinely good defence products.
The Kowsar-88 is equipped with a pair of General Electric J85-GE-13 Turbojet engines, Zvezda/ IAMI K-36DMIR ejection seats, a glass cockpit with three multi-function displays (MFDs) in aft and front cabin instrument panels, a head-up display (HUD), and four under-wing hardpoints for carriage of air-to-ground weapons.
It will form the future fleet of the IRIAF’s advanced jet trainers for use in the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (SUPT) and Combat Commands Training (CCT) squadrons.
Design and development of the Kowsar 88 began in December 2007 after the failure of project “Ya-Hossein”.
Lessons learnt from development of the IRIAF’s Dorna, Tondar and Tazarv advanced jet trainers were considered during design of the Kowsar-88, which is planned to replace 12 50-year-old F-5A/Bs from the IRIAF’s 43rd CCTS within the next 10 years.
The Fakkur-90 air-to-air missile (AAM) is another genuine achievement.
The new medium-range AAM is planned for the IRIAF fleet of 62 F-14A/AMs in the near future. It consists of Shahin components but in a domestically manufactured AIM-54 shell (manufactured by Babaiee Missile Industries company).
The Fakkur-90 is planned to be successor of the IRIAF’s existing but ageing AIM-7E Sparrow missiles, while the recently overhauled and restored AIM-54A+ Phoenix missiles will remain in service as Tomcat long-range weapons.
IHSRC also demonstrated around a dozen recently overhauled and modernised Iranian Armed Forces helicopters. These included a recently restored and renovated Iranian Navy Aviation (IRINA) RH-53D and AB.212ASW; an upgraded Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Mi-171Sh, equipped with forward-looking infrared (FLIR) camera and new targeting system for C-802 and C-704 anti-ship missiles; two Iranian Army Aviation (IRIAA) AH-1J None-Tow International Cobras plus an AB.206B and a Bell 214A; and an Iranian Police Aviation Force Bell 214A and AB.205A-1.
 

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