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Mar-19-2011 07:02printcommentsVideo

Iran Designed and Built Jet Fighter 'Saeqeh' Enters Air Force Service

Iran Announces first all-Iranian aircraft squadron.

Saeqeh fighter plane
Photos: Press TV, Boeing, FARS News Agency,

(SALEM, Ore.) - Iran takes a unique step forward in the world of military aviation with the announcement of the country's first jet fighter squadron comprised of all Iranian aircraft.

The HESA Saeqeh jet fighter; Iranian built and designed- now has become part of Iran's Air Force.

Saeqeh means 'Thunderbolt' in Iran and that name was applied to what was undoubtedly one of the best American WWII fighters, the P-47 Thunderbolt which had a ridiculous amount of horsepower toward the end of the war.

The name Thunderbolt is legendary in military aviation.

“The production of this kind of aircraft has been developing at high speed … and a fighter squadron of these fighter jets has been launched at one of the bases and is now flying,” The Iranian News Agency quoted Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) Deputy Commander for Operations General Mohammad Alavi as saying on Saturday[1].

He says Iran will mass-produce the fighter jets, and that IRIAF, outfitted with revamped equipment, "was well prepared to defend the skies of the country."

General Alavi also talked about Iran's development of strategic weapons, which are 'smart' and capable of pinpointing objects. This technology would allow the Iranian jets the same general capabilities of western jet fighters.

Israel is still relying largely on the aging American F-16 single engine jet fighter that was the first 'fly by wire' jet fighter employing full computerization to activate flight surfaces and actually control the plane in flight. It certainly isn't Israel's only jet, but the F-16' are Israel's primary weapon when carrying out frequent deadly raids on civilian targets in Gaza.

Perhaps it is Israel and the U.S. specifically that have driven Iran to design and produce this seemingly cutting-edge aircraft. Wikipedia explains that is the Saeqeh is actually the second generation of the Iranian Azarakhsh fighter:

"Saeqeh fighter planes tested successfully in Iran 20 September 2007. The Saeqeh is a joint product of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force and the Iranian Ministry of Defense." [2]

While there is little information on the specifications of the Saeqeh, my sense of 'aircraft awareness' was rewarded when I read that the two aircraft I immediately identified in looking at the Saeqeh, could not have been more on target. I was a U.S. Marine when the FA/18 Hornet first arrived at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro and all of us who were there will never forget how completely advanced this plane was next to our F-4 Phantoms and A-4 Skyhawks, which the Hornet replaced.

The similarity to the F/A-18 is easy to see; the trim design and twin boom tail and twin engine jet outlet located in the center of the aircraft are all very close. But this Iranian plane has an even sleeker and more sexy look on one hand, and that is where I spotted what I have to call my 'favorite' western jet fighter and that is the F-5 Tiger of Vietnam War fame that was originally designed to simulate eastern bloc MiGs.

This is the plane that the movie "Top Gun" used and called 'MiG-28's' (which do not and never did exist; they were saying without saying, 'MiG'29' as that was the elusive Soviet plane that was of much concern to western air forces in the mid-80's.) that were painted black with the essential red stars painted on the tails and wings.

According to Wikipedia, "Iranian officials have claimed that the Saeqeh is similar to the US-built F/A-18, although it is modeled after the US F-5E/F Tiger II and its outer appearance is similar to the latter."

The Managing Director of the Aviation Organization of the Ministry of Defense and Logistics of the Armed Forces, Majid Hedayat, described the Saeqeh as a logistic and combat plane with high maneuvering capability and an ability to bombard close targets. The Marine Corps F/A-18 is designated as a fighter and attack aircraft which is what the Iranians mean when they discuss their plane's ability to carry heavy bombs and also fly as a maneuverable, what we might call 'dog fighter' in the west.

As far as the data on the Saeqeh goes, there is no independent corroboration of Iran's technical data on the plane and therefore no way to verify "official" claims. Iran announced in 2008 that the aircraft has a range of 3,000 kilometers, and the ability to track down enemy aircraft, engage them in combat, target ground attack locations, while carrying an assortment of weapons and ammunition.

And in case you are wondering, the distance between Tehran and Tel Aviv is 1,590 km., so in theory these planes could easily reach and attack Israel, but they would lack the fuel to return to Tehran[3].

According to General Alavi, in addition to the production of guided missiles similar to cruise missiles, Iran has also managed to revamp ground-based missiles that can be mounted on bombers.

He added that the Islamic Republic has also produced heavy high tonnage bombs with high destructive capabilities. "These bombs are also capable of pinpointing objects", according to the Iranian commander.

He added that the Iranian Army has successfully ended the first stage of the mass-production of the bombs and it was now working to upgrade their efficiency.

I am anxious to see what other military aviation students, enthusiasts and participants have to say about this new advent in military aviation.

[1] Iran launches fighter jet squadron - Press TV

[2] HESA Saeqeh - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[] Cities located close to Tel Aviv -

If you share my enthusiasm for aircraft, you might want to check the links below for some cool pictures of old derelict MiG and SU jet fighters photographed in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Tim King`s Iraq Pictures - forgotten jets and blown up trucks at Balad

Pictures from Afghanistan - forgotten MiG-21's at Bagram


Tim King: Editor and Writer

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

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Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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michael March 21, 2011 9:37 pm (Pacific time)

excellent report, fair and accurate

March 19, 2011 8:07 pm (Pacific time)

I'm sure Israel is real worried about this plane, Not.

Lawrence March 19, 2011 2:59 pm (Pacific time)

Those Saeqehs look absolutely sh*t! Is that the best you can do Iran? LOL

Editor: I don't claim to know much about the aircraft but it doesn't look like sh*t.  Maybe it isn't the best but it looks good.

Mark March 19, 2011 9:39 am (Pacific time)

Throw any kind of weapon load on this plane and use radar evasive tactics and there is no way it could come close to reaching Israel without refueling over Iraq or Syria. I would not be very concerned about a 1970s variant of a 1950s design with a modified tail.

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