It's a made-in-Iran, "super advanced," radar "evading" military jet, prepared to unleash hell upon the regime's many enemies. "State-of-the-art technologies," Iran claimed! "Modern defense achievements," too! Only there's now one major problem: Aviation experts say this plane can't even fly.
Iran's defense minister unveiled the Qahar 313 to much fanfare on the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution this weekend, including this majestic television spot broadcast on the state news agency:
So it's basically the Beyoncé of fighter jets — a glorious achievement combining beauty and skill, fierceness and modern domination. Except here's why the Qahar 313 is more inauguration lip-sync than Super Bowl halftime show:
The cockpit is too small.
And here's one more shot with a pilot:
That seat is tiny. As The Aviationist's David Cenciotti points out, the "cockpit seems to be too small, to such an extent a normal pilot doesn’t properly fit in the ejection seat. Have you ever seen a pilot with his knees above the side borders of the cockpit and his helmet well beyond the ejection seat’s head pad?" Granted, our knowledge of fighter-plane ejection primarily comes from scenes out of Top Gun, but Cenciotti's point makes sense. The only possible explanation for this could be if Iran was raising an army of smaller than average fighter-jet pilots, but that's as ridiculous as this plane actually working.
The whole thing is pretty small.
Size matters when it comes to planes. As Foreign Policy's John Reed points out, a jet this tiny can't possibly carry the equipment needed to evade radar. Reed writes:
The jet is so small it looks like the man is sitting in a clown car, er, clown fighter. It's seriously unlikely that such an aircraft has room to carry the avionics, radars, electronic countermeasures, heat masking gear, and, most importantly for a fighter, the weapons that make modern stealth jets effective.
There's no nozzle.
Engine nozzles are important if you want to fly things or use instruments like afterburners. The "remove this tag before flight" note that the Quaher 313 is sporting doesn't exactly add up, either.
It looks like it's made out of plastic.
"Overall, the plane seems to lack the characteristic rivets, bolts all aircraft, including stealthy ones, feature. Images released so far show it as a plastic-made aircraft," writes Cenciotti.
And Iran has totally done this before.
While the jury is still out on the fakeness of Iran's alleged space monkey, it was just in late November that Iran told the world they had another "super advanced" aircraft, a super-duper awesome drone. It wasn't long after they "debuted" the drone that we found out it was a mere Photoshop job. So fibbing about its wondrous aeronautical advances is something that Iranian military officials are used to doing.
If you'd like to get more specifics on why the Qaher can't actually fly (stuff like air compression meters awaits), head on over to The Aviationist. But he and Reed do point out that perhaps this is a drone or a mock-up, which could totally be true. "Still the aircraft, manned or unmanned, as displayed on Feb. 2 will hardly take to the air unless extensive modifications are made," writes Cenciotti. Or, you know, Iran gets its hands on the latest edition of Final Cut Pro.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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