So it turns out that the new Iranian stealth fighter may be as genuine as the Islamic Republic’s concern for human rights.
The regime unveiled the jet, 'Qaher 313', on Saturday, and the blogosphere immediately went to work debunking what could be one of the laziest forgeries of all time.
The obvious discrepancy is the size — it looks like a clown car. And the pilot, sitting in this miniature contraption, looks like Bozo. But it goes deeper than that — an extremely rudimentary wiring system, a non-existent engine (near as one can tell), and the instrumentation appears to be "plucked directly from civilian aviation," to quote ars technica’s expert.
And what about avionics? Radar? Weapons? Where does it all fit?
In an article titled "This is not real: Iran's stealth fighter" for National Security, John Reed noted the following:
"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."
Dave Majumdar of the DEW Line said that "there can't be that much room for fuel, let alone weapons, onboard. There doesn't appear to be much room for avionics such as radar or anything else for that matter."
Oh, and it appears to be made from fiberglass. And the canopy, such as it is, probably wouldn’t survive punishing g-forces or provide sufficient (or any) visibility.
Also, it looks like a clown car.
For its part, Iran claimed that "The new single-seat bomber has been manufactured based on state-of-the-art technologies and modern defense achievements."
They also released a video of the unveiling and what they claim is the Qaher in flight — though it seems far more likely to be an RC toy (or another jet altogether).
Given its diminutive size and design conspicuously lacking in what aviators call "stuff," I’d highly doubt it could get off the ground, let alone reach supersonic speeds (Iran equates the Qaher 313 with the F/A-18 Hornet) ... unless this toy is actually the RC wonder seen in the video.
Regarding the "jet" and its authenticity, I see two possibilities:
1) It's a full-scale mockup. It’s not a particularly detailed mockup, and Iran claims this is the genuine article. But it’s entirely possible that something like the Qaher 313 is under development, and the Islamic Republic wanted to flex its muscles to the Western world. Then again, they must have known that the free world — via the Internet — would dissect this obvious forgery piece by piece.
2) It's complete malarkey. The Iranian regime has no jets with stealth capabilities under development.
Given Iran’s closed society — free of such burdens as checks and balance and an independent press — it’s hard to know for certain. But if even somebody with a Liberal Arts Degree in English (i.e., this editor) can go to town on the Qaher 313, then you know something’s fishy.