First Published: 2006-09-06

Iran produces ‘own F-18’

Tehran’s ‘Thunder’ manufactured domestically, ‘should outperform’ US equivalent.


Middle East Online

An F-18 challenger

TEHRAN - Iran on Wednesday said it has developed a new warplane named "Thunder," which it described as similar to the American F-18 fighter jet.

The fighter jet is "similar to the F-18 fighter jet, but it is more capable and has been manufactured domestically," the commander of the Iranian army General Attollah Salehi was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

Iranian state television reported that the jet "is able to fire rockets and also to drop bombs and is equipped with an advanced radar system.

"The fighter jet Saegheh (Thunder), after successful military operations and accurately firing air-to-surface rockets in the Zolfaghar Blow maneuvers, came into the service of the Iranian air force today," the report said.

The air force, army and navy have been showing off their capabilities and new hardware for the last month in the Zolfaghar Blow war games, which come amid mounting international concern over Tehran's nuclear programme.

The report added "the plane, which has flown dozens of experimental flights during the last year, joined the air force with full fighting capacity."

Salehi told IRNA the jet was "designed, remodeled, optimized and made more capable by our engineers," and added that "no country has aided us in its production."

On Wednesday Iran also announced it has developed a 2,000 pound guided bomb named Ghased, or "Messenger," aimed at enhancing its defensive capabilities.

"Within the framework of enhancing our defense capabilities and in accordance with our deterrent principles, we have designed and manufactured a 2,000 pound (900-kilogram) guided bomb," Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.

A guided bomb typically uses laser technology to more accurately hit its target and is a weapon commonly used by the world's air forces.

US President George W. Bush on Tuesday called Iran's leaders "tyrants" as dangerous as Al-Qaeda terrorists and said they must not be allowed to get nuclear weapons -- "the tools of mass murder."

Tehran has insisted that it seeks only civilian nuclear power, but is facing a US drive for sanctions on the UN Security Council after missing a deadline ordering it to halt sensitive uranium enrichment operations.


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