Thunder bird

While the Iranian Air Force is reportedly pursuing a deal with Russia for a huge amount of Sukhoi Su-30s, the Iranian Army — yes, the army! — is apparently fielding the Azarakhsh (Thunder) and the Saeghe (Lightning), with both being bizarrely modified versions of the Northrop F-5E.

While it’s clear that not even the US Air Force could spin the Azarakhsh as a reason to justify buying more F-22s, the fact that Iran is desperately seeking to create a fighter aircraft industrial base should raise some eyebrows.

Here’s the news on the Azarakhsh reported this morning by the Iranian News Agency:

Iran has successfully tested a new fighter plane named Azarakhsh (Thunder), said Ministry of Defense Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar Monday morning.

‘Thunder’ has been manufactured in cooperation with experts from the Army, Defense Ministry and HESA aircarft manufacturing industries in the central province of Isfahan, the minister told reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony held on the eve of ‘Journalist Day’ (August 8).

“The Azarakhsh fighter plan is now at the stage of industrial production and its mass production will start in the future,” said the minister.

He added that the fighter’s successful test would lead to plans for “manufacturing of the fifth generation of Iranian aircraft.” Army and Defense Ministry experts are currently working on the second type of Azarakhsh fighters called Sa’qeh (Lightning) which would be also tested in the near future, Mohammad-Najjar added.

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