Currently, the Iranian Air Force is not in the best condition, the air forces of the Islamic Republic have not been updated with modern aviation and helicopter technology. The Air Force is armed with equipment mainly of American and Soviet / Chinese production. Moreover, American fighters were purchased before the start of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. After that, maintaining them in a combat-ready state was significantly complicated due to difficulties with servicing and acquiring the necessary spare parts and weapons. Today, Iran seeks to create its own combat aircraft. The Air Force is already armed with HESA Azarakhsh and HESA Saeqeh fighters. However, both aircraft were created on the basis of the American light multipurpose Northrop F-5 fighter by the method of reverse engineering (reverse engineering). It is worth remembering that the development of the original Northrop F-5 fighter in the United States began in the late 1950s. Therefore, experts assess the combat capabilities of the “new” Iranian fighters Azarakhsh and Saeqeh as low.
Modern Iranian Air Forces were created in 1979 after the Islamic revolution on the basis of the pre-existing imperial air forces. But the development of the air force was seriously complicated by the sanctions that were imposed on Tehran by Washington. For the Iranian Air Force, this was a serious blow, as they were almost entirely equipped with US aircraft and helicopters, most of these machines are still in use today, while experts believe that only about 60 percent of the remaining American equipment remains operational. It is worth noting that the Iranian fleet suffered serious losses in the years of the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988. After the war, Iran bought warplanes in the USSR and China, and also used Soviet-made equipment, which was distilled from Iraq to Iran during the Gulf War in 1991.
The presentation of the Kowsar fighter
Against this background, the introduction of the new Kowsar fighter, which the Iranian agency Tasnim refers to fourth-generation jet combat aircraft, claims that this machine is fully developed in Iran, seems interesting. According to the Iranian side, the new fighter will be produced in the Islamic Republic in both single and double versions. Fighter Kowsar will be able to carry various weapons. Equipped with a multipurpose radar complex and a computerized ballistic calculation system, the new combat aircraft was named after the paradise Kausar paradise mentioned in the Koran.
Even before the presentation of the new aircraft, the country's defense minister Amir Khatami emphasized that the fighter was created as part of an “active containment strategy,” recalling that Iran had never attacked other states. The minister noted that in recent years, Iranian technical and military experts have achieved significant success in the production of a wide range of military equipment of its own design. The commander said that the Iranian defense program was motivated by memories of the 1980-1988 Iranian-Iraq war attacks and the repeated threats to the United States and Israel to Tehran. In Iran, it is emphasized that Kowsar was the first fighter that was fully developed and manufactured in Iran. However, experts refer to such statements with a fair amount of skepticism. Separately, it is worth noting that the Iranian agency Tasnim did not provide any detailed characteristics of the new combat aircraft.
So far, experts can only note the success of Iran with the modernization of existing old cars. For example, in July 2018, Tehran was able to put into operation 10 modernized fighter-bombers Su-22, which had been stored for a long time. Also, the Iranian military industrial complex launched the Fakour-90 medium-range air-to-air missile, designed for American-made F-14 Tomcat fighter. Earlier, the Iranian defense industry also presented modernized versions of the F-7 fighter (a Chinese copy of the Soviet MiG-21) and the American Northrop F-5 and F-14 fighters.
The presentation of the Kowsar fighter
Russian military experts believe that the Iranian Kowsar fighter is either a deep modernization of the F-5 fighter or its upgraded copy. In an interview with News.ru, Russian military expert Yury Lyamin noted that the new Iranian aircraft looks almost one-on-one as a combat training two-seat version of the Northrop F-5 light multipurpose fighter. According to him, most likely, a new avionics was indeed installed on the aircraft, and the cockpit was also finalized, but this combat vehicle cannot be compared with modern fighters. Lyamin noted that by organizing loud, but in fact useless presentations of weapons and military equipment, Rouhani works for an internal Iranian audience. The expert believes that it is important for the Iranian president to demonstrate to the population of the country that the military-industrial complex can develop under his independent leadership, as well as to personally “check in” defense projects that are not related to the command of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
After the conclusion of a political agreement between Tehran and a group of countries known as 5 + 1 (Russia, USA, China, United Kingdom, France - permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) regarding Iran’s nuclear program, a UN Security Council resolution extending the arms embargo Iran for a five-year term. According to this resolution, until the autumn of 2020, Tehran cannot buy modern aircraft engines and parts for them. “And even India, which possesses far greater scientific, technical and financial resources, is not able to master its own serial production of modern aircraft engines for fighter aircraft. This requires a long period of work and multibillion-dollar investments, ”notes Yury Lyamin. At the same time, the expert does not exclude that after the 2020 of the year, Iran can purchase aircraft engines from Russia and, having provided significant investments in its own aircraft industry, will try to create a full-fledged light combat aircraft of its own production.
The presentation of the Kowsar fighter
Mikhail Barabanov, a military expert at the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, remarked that the so-called Iranian “aviation industry” has already revolved around 25 for years over various modifications of old American-made fighters and is unable to give birth to anything similar to Lyamin. “Iranian aircraft designers present a project similar to the Kowsar fighter presented only in order to report on their own activities and to lobby for the allocation of funds,” says Mikhail Barabanov. - In the event that the UN restrictions on Iran are not extended, the best way out for the Islamic republic will be to organize the production of modern Russian or Chinese aircraft on its territory. If these plans are not able to prevent Iran’s over-ambitious ambitions. ”
Israeli military experts are also skeptical about the Iranian novelty, noting that the Kowsar fighter cannot boast of any innovative or breakthrough solutions. “I immediately saw in the novelty a very old American fighter,” said Ofir Gendelman, the official representative of the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel, commenting on the presentation of the novelty.
Military expert Joseph Dempsey, representing the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), shares a similar opinion with the Israelis. He compared the Iranian novelty with the American two-seat fighter F-5F Tiger II. At the same time, Joseph Dempsey noted that the new Iranian aircraft is not a blind copy of the American combat aircraft. Although Kowsar looks very similar to the F-5F, it is not identical to the machines that Iran received from the United States. Judging by the presented photo and video materials, the Iranian aircraft received a modern digital cockpit with LCD displays, as well as new ejection seats, which, apparently, were created on the basis of the Russian K-36 ejection seats, the expert noted.
Fighter Northrop F-5 air force of Iran
Despite the criticism and doubts of experts, it is worth noting that even such capabilities of the Iranian military-industrial complex can be considered significant, given the conditions in which it exists over the past decades. Of the neighbors of the Islamic Republic, only two countries, Pakistan and Turkey, can afford military aircraft of their own design. In this case, the Pakistani combat aircraft PAC JF-17 Thunder was created in close cooperation with the Chinese Aviation Corporation Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group. A light turboprop training aircraft for advanced training pilots TAI Hurkus has not even entered service with the Turkish Air Force.
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