Iran unveils fourth-generation fighter jet

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said the jet is "a response to economic distress."

An Iranian fighter jet unveiled August 21, 2018 (photo credit: TASNIM NEWS AGENCY)
An Iranian fighter jet unveiled August 21, 2018
(photo credit: TASNIM NEWS AGENCY)
Iran unveiled what it called its first domestic fighter jet named “Kowsar” at a defense show in Tehran on Tuesday.
The Kowsar was described by Iran’s Tasnim news agency as a fourth-generation fighter jet capable of carrying “various weapons” systems with advanced avionics, multi-purpose radar and a fire control system.
The dual-cockpit single tail fin jet is expected to be used for short aerial support missions.
Images published by Tasnim showed President Hassan Rouhani sitting in the cockpit of the plane at the National Defense Industry exhibition in Tehran, as well as the plane taking off from a runway.
Bolton: U.S."s highest priority is Iran never getting nuclear weapons, August 20, 2018 (GPO)
“When I speak of our readiness to defend, it means we seek lasting peace. If we lack readiness, we welcome war,” Rouhani said in a televised speech shortly after the ceremony.
“Some think when we increase our military power, this means we seek war. [But] this is peace-seeking because we don’t war to happen. If we don’t have a deterrent... it gives a green light for others to enter this country.”
Rouhani said the Islamic Republic’s military prowess was what deterred Washington from attacking it, adding that under President Donald Trump the United States was becoming isolated even from its own allies.
“We should make ourselves ready to fight against the military powers who want to take over our territory and our resources,” he said. “Why does the United States not attack us? Because of our power, because it knows the consequences,” Rouhani added.
Last week, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also said the United States would avoid any military confrontation with Tehran because of Iranian military might.
Khamenei has rejected Trump’s offer of unconditional talks on a new nuclear deal, prompting Trump to tell Reuters in an interview on Monday: “If they want to meet, that’s fine, and if they don’t want to meet, I couldn’t care less.”
While Iran said that the plane was “100% indigenously made” for the first time, the aircraft resembles the US-made F-5F jet, which Tehran first received in 1965 and was flown by the Iranian Air Force for years.
“At a glance, the twin-seat Kowsar jet bears something of a resemblance to other twin-seat light fighter-jets.
However, more information on the design is needed to assert what model Iran used to base this aircraft off-of or verify the capabilities Iran claims the Kowsar possess,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Jerusalem Post.
“Iran already possess older American fighters like the F-4, F-5, and F-14 whose operational shelf life it has creatively stretched by cannibalizing its inventory of planes for spare parts,” Taleblu added.
The Shah’s Imperial Iranian Air Force received 104 F-5As and 23 F-5Bs in 1972 from the United States and 166 F-5E/Fs four years later. The planes were heavily involved in flying air-to-air and air-to-ground sorties during the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988.
Meanwhile Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that Iran’s new jet was “a natural response to economic distress.”
“The Iranians feel very stressed by the American sanctions and mainly by the continuation of the sanctions, and as a response, they pull out all kinds of stories,” he said, cautioning “It is also forbidden to belittle them.”
Liberman made the remarks during a visit Tuesday to a military exercise in northern Israel along with the Head of the Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoel Strick and the commander of the ground forces Maj.-Gen Kobi Barak.
“The exercise that I attended is truly one of the most impressive. There is no doubt that this is the best army in the entire Middle East with troops that are capable of reaching every point in the Middle East,” Liberman said, adding “We are prepared and we are following all the changes and events in Syria and Lebanon.”
The Kowsar was first announced Sunday by Iranian Defense Minister Brig.-Gen. Amir Hatami who said the that Iran would continue to work on its defense program due to repeated threats by the United States and Israel.
According to Taleblu, “Iran’s poor conventional forces are one reason why it has invested so heavily in asymmetric capabilities like terrorism, missiles, and even a potential nuclear option for the past four decades.
“Highly public displays, even of poor or questionable military capabilities, are often used by Iran to bolster their deterrence,” he continued. “Iran’s last public attempt at producing a domestic military aircraft – the Qaher 313 – a purported stealth fighter, was simply laughable and was riddled with aerodynamic issues from its nozzle on down.”
Reuters contributed to this report.