Iran unveiled its first domestic fighter jet on Tuesday, with President Hassan Rouhani insisting that Tehran’s military strength was only designed to deter enemies and create “lasting peace”. Images on state television showed Rouhani sitting in the cockpit of the new “Kowsar” fourth-generation fighter at the National Defence Industry exhibition in Tehran.
State media said it had “advanced avionics” and multi-purpose radar, and that it was “100-per cent indigenously made” for the first time. Footage of the Kowsar’s test flights was circulated by various official media. But live footage of the plane taxiing along a runway at the defence show was cut before it could take off.
“When I speak of our readiness to defend, it means we seek lasting peace. If we lack readiness, we welcome war,” Rouhani said in a televised speech shortly after. The plane was first publicly announced on Saturday by Defence Minister Amir Hatami, who had said it would be unveiled on 22 August 2018.
The US has sold hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons to Iran’s regional rivals, but has demanded that Tehran curb its defence programmes, and is in the process of reimposing crippling sanctions in a bid to force its capitulation. Following the withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal in May, Iran has avoided an aggressive response and sought to maintain its good will with other international partners who oppose Washington’s move.