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Iran Unveils Plan to Turn Stealth Fighter Into Unmanned Aircraft

The Iranian defense ministry has unveiled a plan to turn the country’s Qaher stealth fighter into an unmanned warplane.

The televised announcement was made by Brigadier General Afshin Khajefard, saying the aircraft has reached full technological maturity.

The ministry has begun work to automate the indigenous warplane, according to a report by Tasnim News Agency, citing the general.

Different versions of the fighter jet will reportedly be unveiled in mid-2024.

Unveiled in 2013, the Qaher is a single-engine, single-seat aircraft capable of performing takeoff and landing on short runways.

Investment in Unmanned Systems

Iran’s move to transform the Qaher comes as the country becomes recognized as an emerging leader in the production of autonomous systems.

It has reportedly become Russia’s most significant military backer in its war against Ukraine, supplying the country with attack drones that have caused considerable damage to Kyiv’s military assets.

In September last year, the Middle Eastern nation claimed to have developed a long-range unmanned system that could strike the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa.

It can loiter until it engages a target, acting as a spotter and hitting the same targets as the Fateh ballistic missile.

Defying Sanctions

The plans also come as Iran faces new sanctions for supplying Russia with drones to use against Ukraine.

However, Brigadier General Khajefard emphasized the country’s improving “self-reliance” in manufacturing aircraft components.

He said that despite sanctions, Tehran could overhaul commercial airplanes.

“We can now create 10 different types of engines, the majority of which are used in drones and cruise missiles, thanks to our degree of engine self-sufficiency,” Khajefard said, as quoted by Tehran Times.

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