An F-5 fighter plane used for training by the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) crashed on August 26, 2018, in the southwest of Iran. The pilot was killed instantly, while his co-pilot survived the crash. Iran has been struggling with its fighter fleet for years because of American sanctions, with more or less successful programs

The plane, a two-seat F-5, crashed after a training mission as it attempted to land in Vahdati Air Base in the city of Dezful, Iran. The co-pilot was hospitalized. The authorities opened an investigation to identify the causes of the crash.

Iran’s mysterious fighter jets

Between 1965 and 1979  − prior to the Islamic revolution  − Iran received more than 300 F-5s in different variants. The country still has around 48 of them in service according to the latest estimates of British defense publication IHS Jane's.

In 2006, a version developed by the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA) officially entered service. Named “Saegheh”, it was fitted with a double vertical tail stabilizer and modified jet intakes.

On August 18, 2018, the Iranian ministry of Defense, General Amir Hatami, announced that the country had developed its own 4th generation fighter, the “Kowsar”. While Iranian authorities claim it was developed indigenously “following extensive research and efforts by the Iranian Defense Ministry’s experts”, as reported by Tasnim News, it seems that the fighter is once again heavily based on the design of the Northrop F-5 from 1959.

As for the Qaher-313, the Iranian stealth fighter presented by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2013, it has yet to take to the air. The prototype remains unseen since its taxi testing, back in April 2017.