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Two Iranian pilots killed when fighter jet crashes, state media says

Decades of Western sanctions make it hard for Tehran to obtain spare parts and maintain its aging fleet

An illustrative photo of Iranian fighter jets flying over the mausoleum of late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, during a military parade ceremony marking the anniversary of the start of the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war, just outside Tehran, Iran, September 22, 2009. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
An illustrative photo of Iranian fighter jets flying over the mausoleum of late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, during a military parade ceremony marking the anniversary of the start of the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war, just outside Tehran, Iran, September 22, 2009. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

TEHRAN, Iran — A fighter jet crashed in the central desert of Iran on Tuesday, killing both the aircraft’s pilots, local media reported.

The aircraft crashed at the Anarak training site near the central city of Isfahan, Iran’s semiofficial Tasnim news agency reported. The agency, which is close to the country’s military, did not identify the cause of the crash, and said authorities were investigating.

Iran’s air force has an assortment of US-made military aircraft purchased before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It also has Russian-made MiG and Sukhoi planes.

Decades of Western sanctions have made it hard to obtain spare parts and maintain the aging aircraft. Crashes occasionally happen among its faltering fleet.

In February, a fighter jet plunged into a soccer pitch in the country’s northwestern city of Tabriz, killing both pilots and a civilian.

Iran is believed to have modeled its F-7 fighter after China’s jet J-7 which is considered a copy of the Soviet-era MiG-21. Beijing built the aircraft for export to countries including Pakistan, Iran, Sudan and North Korea.

Iranian pilots for years have used the F-7 for training, with some mishaps.

Four years ago, an F-7 similarly crashed near Isfahan during an aerial exercise because of what was later described as a technical problem.

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