Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for a massive military build-up Tuesday, Iranian National Defence Industry Day, to deter would-be aggressors. According to a report from Reuters, Rouhani stated that Iran’s military power discourages the country’s enemies from invading.
“We should make ourselves ready to fight against the military powers who want to take over our territory and our resources,” Rouhani said during the televised speech.
In conjunction with Rouhani’s call for an arms buildup, the Iranian government also unveiled their new fighter jet, nicknamed the “Kowsar.” According to Al Jazeera, Iranian military officials claim that the Kowsar is “100-percent indigenously made” and possesses “advanced avionics,” however, many experts are skeptical of the fighter’s capabilities and claim that it looks eerily similar to the Iranian’s aging Northrop F-5 aircraft.
— Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) August 21, 2018
In the early 1970s, the Iranian government purchased billions of dollars of military equipment from the United States, including the F-5. However, due to sanctions placed on Iran, the country has been forced for some time to design and build most of its military hardware internally.
Iranian state media outlet Tasnim televised pictures of Rouhani sitting at the controls of the new fighter and claimed that the aircraft would soon be flying “shorter distance aerial support missions,” according to CNBC.
Despite this recent saber rattling, Israeli defense officials seemed unphased and unsurprised, given Iran’s current economic hardships.
“The Iranians are feeling very pressured by the continued US sanctions and in reaction they are coming out with these things, but we also shouldn’t dismiss it,” said Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman while speaking to the Times of Israel. Liberman also added that he believes Tuesday’s announcement is just a ‘“natural reaction to an economical crisis.”
Iran’s previous attempt to develop a new fighter, the Qaher F-313, ended up being a disaster that never left the ground, according to a report from Business Insider. Whether or not the new Kowsar fighter can perform as advertised or is just a propaganda stunt is yet to be determined.