Iran completes test flight of domestic fighter jets, news agency says
Iranian air force pilots on Thursday successfully completed a test flight of two domestically manufactured fighter jets, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
"The test flights of a new generation of Azarakhsh jet fighters, called the Saegheh, were completed by brave pilots from Iran's air force," Iran's Defense Minister Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar was quoted as saying by IRNA. "The two will officially join the air force on Saturday."
Najjar said the research, design and production of the jets were done by Iranian experts. The plane was first tested in 2006 and is derived from re-engineered components of U.S. combat aircraft.
IRNA said the Saegheh jets were a new generation of the Azarakhsh class of fighter planes. Both Azarakhsh and Saegheh mean lightening in Farsi.
State television showed video of the two blue jets, each with one pilot, taking off and landing. It said the planes' test flights each lasted 15 minutes.
In August, Iran said it begun industrial-scale production of the fighter jet as part of Tehran's efforts to become militarily self-sufficient.
Iran exhibited the fighter plane last year during large-scale military exercises. The country claims the Saegheh is similar to the American F-18 fighter plane but more powerful.
After decades of relying on foreign weapons, Iran has said it is increasingly self-sufficient, claiming annual military exports of more than US$100 million (71.56 million).
Since 1992, Iran has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers and missiles, the government said. It announced in early 2005 that it had begun producing torpedoes.
Source : TEHRAN, Iran (AP) --- (Posted : Prime Newswire Sept. 9, 2007)
Image: Iranian Azarakhsh jet fighters