Iran readies new/old F-5-style fighter jets

Defense minister Najjar says domestically manufactured planes will join air force Saturday.

September 20, 2007 23:47
1 minute read.

The Iranian air force has conducted successful test flights of two domestically manufactured fighter jets, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported on Thursday. "The test flights of a new generation of Azarakhsh jet fighters, called the Saegheh, were completed by brave pilots from Iran's air force," Iran's Defense Minister Gen. Mostafa Muhammad Najjar was quoted as saying by IRNA. "The two will officially join the air force on Saturday." Najjar said the research, design and production of the jets were done by Iranian experts. The plane was first tested in 2006 and was developed following reverse engineering of US combat aircraft, particularly the F-5. News of the successful test flight came a day after Iran's deputy air force commander warned Israel that if his country was attacked, Iranian planes were ready to bomb Israel. Israeli defense sources dismissed the claims on Thursday and said that the Iranian air force was "primitive" and incapable of carrying out long-range bombing missions against Israeli targets. The sources said that the Saegheh appeared to be a copy of the F-5E warplane, sold to Iran in the 1970s. "The IAF is far superior to the Iranian air force," a defense official said. "These new planes are not something that we need to be overly concerned with." Both Azarakhsh and Saegheh mean lightening in Farsi. State television showed video of the two blue jets, each with a single pilot, taking off and landing. It said the test flights each lasted 15 minutes. In August, Iran said it begun industrial-scale production of the fighter jet as part of efforts to become militarily self-sufficient.

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