WASHINGTON — Iran’s new jet fighter, unveiled Tuesday, is a “known known” to the Pentagon and is more likely designed for internal consumption rather than international conflict, analysts said Wednesday.
“The enemy should see how expensive an invasion of Iran would be,” President Hassan Rouhani said at the unveiling of the new plane, according to news reports. “Why does not the U.S wage a military attack on us? Because of our power.”
The unveiling came on the eve of Iran’s celebration of National Defense Industry Day on Wednesday.
Official Iranian reports say the plane is a fourth-generation fighter and is reportedly “100 percent indigenously made.” The Iranian air force includes U.S.-made F-4, F-5 and F-14 fighter jets and Russian-made Sukhoi aircraft. Some analysts said the unveiled plane is a variation of a Northrop F-5, of which Iran has an estimated 48 in its fleet.
“We are aware of Iran’s newest fighter jet,” LCDR Rebecca Rebarich, a Pentagon spokesperson, told TMN. “The department does not comment on intelligence matters.”
Regarding the issue of if the plane is all new or a revamp of the F-5, Rebarich said, “We’ll have to refer you to Iran to talk details of their aircraft.”
The new plane — called Kowsar, which in Islamic meaning refers to a river in paradise — is reported to be a twin-seat fighter with advanced avionics and a fire control system, according to Iranian news statements. The aircraft reportedly can reach an altitude of 45,000 feet and hit the speed of Mach 1.2, which is just above the speed of sound.
Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami said in a television broadcast that development of the advanced aircraft was spurred by the pounding the nation took during its eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s, as well as threats from Israel and the United States.
“We have learned in the war that we cannot rely on anyone but ourselves,” Hatami said, according to news reports. “Our resources are limited and we are committed to establishing security at a minimum cost.”
Iran recently announced it planned to upgrade its missile defense system and install unspecified defensive upgrades for some of its naval fleet.