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Middle East , Aircraft and Anti-Aircraft

Iran's Qaher-313 Light Attack Fighter Could Soon See its First Flight Tests - Former Defence Minister

January 28th - 2018

Image Credit : Tasnim New Agency

In 2013 Iran first unveiled its Qaher-313 light fighter - what appeared to be the first fully indigenous jet fighter ever produced by the country. With stealth capabilities and a tiny airframe, the platform was long derided by Western analysts as a propaganda farce by the Islamic Republic - asserting that developing such a platform was well beyond Iran's capabilities. Iran's military aviation industries however have previously surprised the West on numerous occasions, namely by developing an industry capable of maintaining its U.S. made fleet of F-5, F-4 and even the complex F-14 fighters - all of which were expected to have long been inoperable after almost forty years of arms embargoes and an eight year war with Iraq. Having developed a potent military aviation industry, including acquiring key technologies and production lines from post Soviet states in the 1990s, Iran may well be in a position to see through the development of a basic light fighter - which it alleges also incorporates radar evading capabilities. The Qaher-313 is hardly an analogue to the F-22 or J-20 - and is more comparable to the South Korean KAI T-50 or Soviet MiG-19 in its weight, role and capabilities. Indeed, with a profile likely too small to accommodate missiles internally, the fighter could well be an attack platform relying only on cannons similar to the MiG-19 - with which it bears some similarities. The fighter is reportedly designed as a close support attack fighter, among the simplest and least costly combat aircraft types to design, which makes prospects for the platform being inducted into full service far more plausible.

Whether Iran can produce an indigenous fighter, particularly one with such a unique design as the Qaher, remains to be seen. According to a statement by former Iranian Defence Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan in January 2018, the fighter is undergoing final pre-flight tests including conducting fast taxi runs. IHe noted that the fighter had been designed to conduct close air support missions. The General also noted that Iran's second light fighter program, the Kowsar-88 light trainer, was also preparing for its first flight tests. With critics stating that the Qaher's flight was impossible based on its dimensions, successful flight tests could win Iran a significant propaganda victory as well as being a major step towards developing capable domestic military industries.

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