Iran’s F-5-based fighter – signs of progress?

Steve Trimble has posted new pictures of the Iranian-developed Saegheh fighter over on his blog, The DEW Line. Look past the Blue Angels colour scheme and you will see subtle but significant differences between the two aircraft featured that suggest Iran’s “Lightning” is more than simply a reverse-engineered Tiger with two tails.

The first aircraft, presumably the earliest, looks pretty much like an F-5E and even the twin fins have a “tacked-on” appearance.

But the second aircraft, while similar in planform, has a number of differences including enlarged and reshaped inlets.

The first aircraft’s inlets are F-5 sized and shaped. The second one (right) has rectangular inlets that appear larger, and the wing leading-edge root extensions are slightly different.
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A closer look shows the second aircraft’s intake trunk is bulged compared with the F-5E’s classic “coke-bottle” shape, although the auxiliary inlet is still there.
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The base of the fin also has a more faired-in appearance, so the second aircraft could be the production version. The reason for the inlet redesign is not clear as the nozzles of both aircraft look similar, suggesting the engines have not changed.


But maybe there is a bigger engine in the pipeline, making for a higher performing aircraft. Which might explain why they would spoil the classic lines of the F-5 by doubling up on tails.

Meanwhile, this picture from Tehran’s military parade on 22 September shows two of the round-intake aircraft and one square-intake (top left)


4 Responses to Iran’s F-5-based fighter – signs of progress?

  1. Andrew 21 September, 2007 at 1:34 am #

    Also, the right-hand cannon is missing in the second aircraft and, while this may be just an optical illusion because of the different camera angle, the nose section seems to have changed slightly.

  2. The Woracle 21 September, 2007 at 2:24 am #

    Well spotted. Some of the F-5 upgrades sacrificed a cannon to make room for an improved radar. And the nose contour does look a bit different. The F-5 suffered nose slice at high AoA, hence the “shark nose” on the F-20 – I wonder if the twin fins are related.

  3. L.J. Brooks 26 September, 2007 at 2:51 pm #

    Wasn’t there a Canadian aircraft company (out of Vancouver if I remember)that tried marketing a F-5 airframe with a “V” tail configuration? This was quite some years ago so my memory may be a little faulty.

  4. The Woracle 26 September, 2007 at 3:04 pm #

    Your memory serves you well. It was the Venga Aircraft TG-10 Brushfire – an all-composite F-5 look-alike announced in 1985 but never built. Venga resurfaced recently trying to sell ex-Swiss Hawks to the Canadians to re-equip the Snowbirds, but that fell through too.

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