(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Iran unveiled what it described as the country’s “first domestically manufactured” fighter jet Tuesday, state-run Press TV reported.
State media aired video and pictures of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the cockpit during its first public display.
Test flights of the jet, dubbed the Kowsar, took place Tuesday on the eve of the National Day of the Defense Industry, according to semi-official Mehr News Agency. It was unclear whether the jet’s first public display flight has yet taken place.
The Kowsar can be used for “short aerial support missions” and is equipped with systems that “promote precision targeting,” according to state media.
In a speech during Tuesday’s defense show, Rouhani called on the Iranian military to strengthen their readiness in the face of enemy threats, Press TV reported.
“When we say we are ready for defense, it means that we seek the establishment of sustainable peace,” Rouhani said.
He called for “the discipline, education, faith, motivation, weapons and readiness of our Armed Forces (to) reach a level that no one would dare to attack us,” adding, “Why does the US not attack us? Because it is aware of our power and the cost [that it will entail].”
A handout photo from Iran’s defense ministry shows the Kowsar during an inauguration ceremony in Tehran.
Iran is currently under economic and diplomatic pressure from a raft of sanctions reimposed by the United States earlier this month, and the unveiling could be seen as a bid to show self-sufficiency and military might in the face of that pressure.
The announcement was made at the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, when many Iranians would be at home and more likely to be watching television.
Iran has unveiled several new fighter jets in the last few years. In 2013, the country unveiled the Qahar-313, a new fighter jet that Iran compared to the US F-22 and F-35. But many aviation experts voiced skepticism regarding the design and quality of the build of that plane.
Iran has sent weapons and soldiers to Syria during the country’s seven-year civil war in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
But the country’s air force comprises roughly a few dozen strike aircraft, largely Russian or American planes acquired before the 1979 revolution, according to Reuters.