Friday, August 04, 2006

Iranian F-5 story, Part 2

In The Name Of God

Other indigenous modifications implemented on the Iranian F-5s include installation of wing pylon mounted chaff flare dispensers and replacement of the RF-5A’s film based still image camera with a new high resolution EO video system. In a separate projects Iranian aircraft manufacturing industry (HESA), near Esfahan has so far modified nine retired F-5As to the F-5B Simorgh configuration with help of Pakistani engineers. This modifications which adds a second cockpit, is to fulfil an IRIAF requirement for more fast jet trainers. All the aircraft serve with the training unit based at Shiraz. Other noteworthy F-5 modifications in Iranian service include the integration of the Russian R-60M and Chinese PL-7 heat seeking air-to-air missiles, as well as AGM-65 Maverick missiles. The APQ-159 radar was also tweaked to increase its detection range from 20 miles to 40 miles (32 to 64Km), it’s tracking range from 10 miles to 23 and is tracking performance. Since the mid-1980s the IRIAF has been rebuilding or manufacturing thousands of F-5 parts, including parts for its GE J85 engine. Building on this experience the IRIAF’s Owj industrial complex then started reverse engineering the F-5E’s airframe, which flew in the late 1990s as the Owj Azarakhsh. The Azarakhsh is an F-5E copy, with only minor changes, which are mostly internal. the only external difference is a slight lengthening of the nose to make room for a new radar unit which Iranian and Russian engineers are developing jointly. After building a single prototype, the Owj moved ahead with a more radical endeavour, in the form of replacing the F-‘s original single vertical tail configuration with a twin outward canted vertical tail design to improve performance. The new aircraft named Saegheh is currently under going a slow paced test program. The Owj complex is also reportedly working on the separate new design which includes a major works of the original F-5. There are currently eight squadrons of F5E/Fs based at three facilities, three squadron based TFB.2 at Tabriz; three with TFB.4 at Dezful, Ardestani; a squadron with Omideyeh TFB.5 at there near Ahwaz and a sold unit residing at Babaie TFB.8 near Isfahan. A detachment of RF-5As soldier on at TFB.7, Shiraz, as do a mix of F-5B and F-5B Simorgh which serve the based training unit.

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