Domestically designed and built Iran fighter jets were showcased in the skies over Tehran during a military parade Thursday marking National Army Day. The twin-seated Kowsar — modelled after the American F-5 fighter jet which first flew in 1959 – has already been hailed as the future of the country’s air force.
The display provided a backdrop to diplomatic discord as the country grapples with U.S. sanctions and the Trump administration’s recent terrorism designation of Iran’s powerful paramilitary force.
TV footage showed the aircraft performing aboveg the parade, including the latest all-Iranian fighter jet dubbed Kowsar (pictured). The Kowsar first had its public unveiling last year, as Breitbart News reported.
At the time Defense Minister Gen. Amir Hatami applauded the capabilities of Iranian experts despite “sanctions by enemies,” according to local outlet Press TV. Hatami said the Kowsar fighter was “the very symbol of fighting the [global] arrogance and standing against the excessive demands of the imperial system, which is being led by the Great Satan, the United States.”
Iran promotion of HESA Kowsar upgrade assembly line; extending service life for the F-5E/F Tiger II type aircraft, originally built by Northrop and exported to Iran during the mid 1970’s. pic.twitter.com/lMDVJ496MS
— Mark Pyruz (@INTELonIRAN) November 3, 2018
Iran defense officials say the Kowsar has already been through successful testing and showed footage of the plane on the runway last year, though the broadcast stopped before the plane took off. They deny its design origins lie in 1950s U.S. defense technology despite many doubting the veracity of that claim.
Some critics have taken to social media to point out the obvious design evolution of the Kowsar.
النظام الإيراني يكشف النقاب عن طائرة #كوثر ويدعي أنها “أول مقاتلة إيرانية محلية الصنع %100” ويتفاخر بقدراتها الهجومية النوعية ولكنني رأيت على الفور أن هذه هي طائرة حربية أمريكية قديمة جدا (صنعت في أواخر الخمسينات) من طراز F-5 خرجت منذ عقود من الخدمة… الكذب حبله قصير… pic.twitter.com/Mb8plEjlxr
— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) August 21, 2018
The Islamic Republic often announces military achievements that cannot be independently verified to boost domestic patriotism.
To that end, this year’s parade also showcased the Saegheh, or “Thunderbolt,” another domestically built fighter in Iran’s air force, which already has U.S.-made F-4, F-5 as well as F-14 fighter jets and also Russian-made Sukhoi aircraft in service.
During Thursday’s event, Iranian battlefield personnel carriers were also paraded, alongside machine guns, tanks, transport vehicles and Iranian-made Talash as well as Russian-made S-300 missile systems.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reviewed the parade, flanked by several Revolutionary Guard commanders, and offered praise for both the army and the guard forces.
“The Army has always been beside the Iranian nation and the Islamic Revolution, making sacrifice to secure our territorial integrity and ensure Iran’s independence,” Rouhani also said.
AP contributed to this report
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