Iran’s new state-of-the-art fighter jet was derided on Sunday by skeptics who claimed Tehran faked the new aircraft’s airworthiness. But one expert said it had the potential to be an effective defensive interceptor.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday in a ceremony broadcast on state TV that building the Qaher F-313, or “Dominant” F-313, shows Iran’s will to “conquer scientific peaks.”
The plane displayed in the Iranian media and touted as a radar-dodging multi-role fighter-bomber looked more like a fiberglass or cardboard model, Israeli aeronautics expert Tal Inbar told Maariv.
“It’s not a plane, because that’s not how a real plane looks,” he said. “Iran doesn’t have the ability to build planes. Plain and simple.”
He pointed out the Qaher’s physical similarities, also noted by Iran’s Press TV, to the 1960s-era F-5E/F Tiger II, a warplane Iran has had in its arsenal since it was supplied to the US-allied regime of the shah before Iran’s 1979 revolution.
Aviation guru David Cenciotti, a freelance reporter, remarked on his blog that the plane sported “implausible aerodynamics and Hollywood sheen” and was laughably small for a fighter jet. He noted that the cockpit was far too basic for a sophisticated aircraft, and appeared “similar to those equipping small private planes.”
“The nose section is so small almost no radar could fit in it,” he wrote. “The air intakes are extremely small, whereas the engine section lacks any kind of nozzle: engine afterburners could melt the entire jet.”
“It looks like this pilot is in a miniature plane” and it appeared “nothing more than a large mock-up model,” he argued.
Iran also broadcast video footage of the Qaher F-313 in flight, which Cenciotti said appeared to fly like a “radio-controlled scale model more than a modern fighter jet.” He also noted it was suspect that Tehran did not release takeoff and landing footage of its new aircraft.
Still, an Israeli aerospace engineer who spoke with The Times of Israel on condition of anonymity said that while the plane displayed by the Iranian press on Saturday was clearly not a working prototype, it integrated advanced stealth design with extreme maneuverability. He said that while the Qaher’s design lacked bombing capability, it had the potential to be an effective interceptor capable of defending Iran’s skies from aerial threats.
“They need a defensive interceptor that gives them the element of surprise, and it is big enough to carry real air-to-air missiles,” he said.
The Qaher is one of several aircraft designs the Iranian military has rolled out since 2007. Tehran has repeatedly claimed to have developed advanced military technologies in recent years, but its claims cannot be independently verified because the country does not release technical details of its arsenals.