Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ahmadinejad's Silly Saber-Rattling

On the eve of his trip to New York, Mah- I'm in the -moud for aviation fuel Ahmadinejad (rhymes with "Let's have a little jet-powered jihad") bragged about Iran's new Saeqeh fighter jets, which were flitting about in the sky above.
"Those who prevented Iran, at the height of the [1980-88 Iran-Iraq] war from getting even barbed wire must see now that all the equipment on display today has been built by the mighty hands and brains of experts at Iran's armed forces," Mr Ahmadinejad said BBC.
Hmm. I read the BBC article from top to bottom and I found plenty of threats, like Ahmadinejad saying anybody who attacked Iran "would experience nothing but regret," but I didn't find out any more about these famous jets that came from the mighty hands and brains of Iran's' military experts ... especially anything about why they look so much like our old F-5s. You know, the F-5s we sold about 100 years ago to the Shah.

So I went on over to Defense Talk to see what they were talking about and lo and behold:
The Saeqeh shown previously was in effect an F-5E with a V tail. The Azarakhsh [the other "new" Iranian jet, the] in turn is an F-5E with the wings moved from the bottom of the fuselage to a mid point on the fuselage. While either design change may give some improvement in performance the plane is still a modified F-5.
Funny that BBC wouldn't take the effort to tell us that, especially since it took me about five seconds to find that confirming quote.

The last F-5E rolled off our assembly lines 20 years ago, in 1987, so I kind of wondered just how the Saeqeh and Azarakhsh would fare in warfare against one of our better jets, like an F-18. Back to Defense Talk:
Neither could be described as similar to an F-18 in capabilities.
I don't know to what extent, if at all, the Iranians were able to improve on the performance, avionic or firepower capabilities of the F-5A -- especially since they're under an arms embargo -- but here's what the jet could do when Northrup (as opposed to a bunch of Iranians) manufactured it:

Max Speed: 802 kt / 924 mph
Max Range: 2594 km / 1,612 miles
Powerplant: two 1850-kg (4,080-lb) afterburning thrust General Electric J85-GE 13 turbojets
Armament: two 20-mm M39 cannon with 280 rounds per gun; provision for 1996 kg (4,400 lb) of disposable stores, including AAMs, bombs, cluster bombs, rocket-launcher

Now let's mosey over to the carrier-launched F-18 Hornet, the aircraft the Iranians would most likely be up against if tit were to lead to tat:

Max Speed: 1,032 kt / 1,183 mph
Max Range: 740 km / 460 miles
Powerplant: two 7257-kg (16,000-lb) afterburning thrust General Electric F404-GE-400 turbofans
Armament: one 20-mm M61A1 Vulcan six-barrel rotary cannon with 570 rounds; up to 7711 kg (17,000 Ib) of disposable stores, including AAMs, ASMs, anti-ship missiles, free-fall or guided bombs, cluster bombs, dispenser weapons, napalm tanks, rocket launchers, drop tanks and ECM pods, carried on nine external hardpoints

Ouch. Hugely faster, double the thrust and Holy cow, those munitions! Yes, the Iranians would have a range advantage on us, but what good will that do them if they're shot down within a few miles of taking off?

I bring this all up not to saber-rattle, but merely to point out that Ahmadinejad has no choice, given the sorry state of the nation he quasi-rules, but to use propaganda to shore up Iran. The facts do nothing for him. We'll be hearing that propaganda full bore this coming week when be soils New York with his presence.

Some, like students at Columbia and delegates at the UN Gen. Assembly, will fall for what he says. But I know that you, dear reader, won't.

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