Israel scoffs at Iran’s ‘new’ fighter jet, ‘a very old US F-5’

Iran inaugurated what it called a “new” all-Iranian-made twin-seat fighter jet, which Israel derided as a copy of an outdated F-5 model.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

Iran displayed a new twin-seat fighter jet Tuesday, saying it’s all Iranian-made and with advanced avionics and fire control systems. The country’s president said it would enhance Tehran’s deterrence capabilities in confronting Washington.

State television showed President Hassan Rouhani briefly sitting in the plane’s cockpit inside a hangar just before the inauguration ceremony.

Not long after the unveiling, experts began pointing out the “new” plane’s resemblance to the F-5 fighter jet, which was manufactured in the 1950s.

“The Iranian regime unveils the Kowsar aircraft and claims [it is a] ‘100% homemade Iranian fighter,” tweeted Ofir Gendelman, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Arabic language spokesman, adding, “I immediately saw that this is a very old US F-5 warplane (manufactured in the late 1950s).”

Responses to Gendelman’s tweet included Holocaust denial and support for Palestinians.

If the Kowsar turns out to be a re-purposed F-5, it would join previous embarrassments to the Islamic Republic’s military establishment, such as Iran’s 2013 unveiling of its “first” domestic fighter jet, the Qaher F-313, which Western analysts concluded was merely a plastic model of an aircraft that was too small to actually take flight.

As referenced by Gendelman, the aircraft is dubbed Kowsar, which in Islamic tradition refers to a river in paradise and is also the title of a chapter in the Quran.

At the ceremony, Rouhani said Iran’s defense program is aimed at the United States.

“The enemy should see how expensive an invasion of Iran would be,” he said. “Why does not the U.S wage a military attack on us? Because of our power.”

The U.S. renewed its sanctions on Iran earlier this month after President Donald Trump in May pulled America out of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

The report said Iran will also manufacture a single-seat version of the fighter jet. It said the aircraft is capable of flying at an altitude of 45,000 feet and with the speed of Mach 1.2. Mach 1 would be equal to the speed of sound

The TV also broadcast footage it said showed the jet in flight.

Iran already has U.S.-made F-4, F-5 as well as F-14 fighter jets and also Russian-made Sukhoi aircraft in service.

The Islamic Republic often announces military achievements that cannot be independently verified.