Iran has formally launched production of an indigenously developed derivative of the Northrop F-5 Tiger II, known as the Kowsar.
National media broadcast that on 3 November, senior military leaders attended the commencement of mass production of the aircraft. At least seven airframes were shown on the Hevapeimasazi (Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industries Company: HESA) production line; the Kowsar fighter aircraft (not to be confused with an indigenously developed jet trainer aircraft of the same name) was first revealed in August.
While the Kowsar is clearly based on the US-built F-5E/F Tiger II, national media reports it has been equipped with fourth-generation avionics. Indeed, imagery of the cockpit shows that the analogue gauges and dials of the original F-5 have been replaced with modern multifunctional display units.
The Kowsar is the latest of many 'new' combat aircraft types Iran has revealed recently to showcase the country's burgeoning domestic aerospace capabilities to the world. All but one of the five new types have been remodelled variants of the F-5.
Iran received 141 F-5E and 28 F-5F Tiger IIs prior to the Iranian Revolution in 1979, and has already converted several aircraft into domestic variants, including the Simorgh (Phoenix), Azarakhsh (Lightning), Saeghe (Thunderbolt), and Saeghe-2 (Thunderbolt-2).
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