Friday, September 5, 2008

Lightning Fighter Jet Upgrades

From Fars News:

The Iranian Air Force announced the first Saeqeh (Lightning) fighter-jets capable of conducting long-range air missions would be delivered in 2009.

Officials said the indigenous Lightning featured an operational range of 3,000 kilometers. They said the aircraft was modeled partly on the US Navy's F-14 and F/A-18 fighters.

"They will arrive within a few months," Iranian Army commander General Ataollah Salehi said.

Salehi said the air force planned to launch a major exercise during the current fasting month of Ramadan. The exercise, titled "Defenders of the Sky," was believed to have been scheduled for the first week of October. The air force was said to have a fleet of 230 combat jets.

"Iran has made great achievements in manufacturing anti- aircraft missiles and various jet fighters over the past two years," Salehi on Sept. 2.

Officials said the Defense Ministry has succeeded in installing external fuel tanks to the Lightning fighter-jet. They said the external fuel tanks could be displayed in the forthcoming exercise.

In July 2008, the air force reported the production of Lightning, said to contain stealth capabilities. The air force also said it was upgrading its F-14 fleet, procured in the mid-1970s.

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