It's a tense moment for Tehran. The country today opened its first nuclear power plant in Bushehr, prompting fears of a pre-emptive strike by Israel and the US.
Meanwhile, the Iranian Air Force is conducting a simulated, 10-day air war. The skies over the northwestern city of Tabriz are filled with most of Iran's fleet, with the notable exception of its surviving Grumman F-14s. Perhaps they are standing guard at their base in Shiraz in the south.
Instead, the exercise includes the Northrop F-5s and McDonnell F-4s acquired from the US in the early 1970s, as well as the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29s and Sukhoi Su-24s acquired from Russia in the last two decades. As the above video shows, one of the F-5s was lost on Saturday. The status of its pilot, who is briefly glimpsed still strapped to his ejection seat, is unknown.
The indigenous Sa'eqeh fighter, an F-5 modified with a V-tail, also is involved in the exercise. Although the FARS news agency declared today that the Sa'eqeh is operational at squadron strength, we tend to doubt this claim -- FARS is never very reliable. More likely, the Sa'eqeh remains a testbed for a follow-on production aircraft -- this stealth fighter perhaps.