Iran has unveiled its newest combat jet, a domestically manufactured fighter-bomber that military officials claim can evade radar.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a ceremony broadcast on state TV that building the Qaher-313, or Dominant-313, shows Iran’s will to “conquer scientific peaks”.
The Qaher is one of several aircraft designs rolled out by the Iranian military since 2007.
Tehran has repeatedly claimed to have developed advanced military technologies in recent years but its claims cannot be independently verified because the country does not release technical details of its arsenals.
The country launched a self-sufficiency military programme in the 1980s to compensate for a Western weapons embargo that banned export of military technology and equipment to Iran.
Since 1992, Iran has produced its own tanks, armoured personnel carriers, missiles, torpedoes, drones and fighter planes.
“Qaher-313 is a fully indigenous aircraft designed and built by our aerospace experts. This is a radar-evading plane that can fly at low altitude, carry weapons, engage enemy aircrafts and land at short airstrips,” Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi said.
‘Message of peace’
Tensions in the region have simmered over Tehran’s nuclear programme. Israel has threatened to bomb Iranian nuclear sites if diplomacy and sanctions fail to stop nuclear activity the West suspects is aimed at developing weapons capability.
Iran denies the weapons charge, saying it has no intention to interfere in other countries’ affairs.
“It carries the message of peace, friendship and brotherhood. Our military achievements do not pose a threat to anyone,” Ahmadinejad said in remarks carried on state television on Saturday.
“They’re not aimed at abusing the rights of others but are rather meant to defend our independence and our existence. In fact they’re a deterrent,” he said.
Still photos of the Qaher released by the official IRNA news agency and pictures on state TV show a single-seat jet. They described it as a fighter-bomber that can combat both other aircraft and ground targets.
Iran’s English-language state Press TV said Qaher was similar to the American-made F/A-18, an advanced fighter capable of so-called dogfighting – aerial combat between fighter aircraft – as well as penetrating enemy air defences to strike ground targets.