“It is a tribute to Iranian ingenuity that Iran has been able to keep the planes flying, given US sanctions in place since 1979. The Iranians have done so by a combination of smuggling – using shadow companies to buy parts – and cannibalising parts from civil aircraft. They have also engaged in reverse engineering, though this seldom produces a perfect match, resulting in weaker parts. Justin Bronk, a research analyst in the military science programme at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, said of the plane spotted over Iraq: “This is the equivalent of a late Vietnam-era F-4 Phantom D or E variants. We do not know which one.” Bronk, who specialises in combat air power, added: “It is extremely impressive that the Iranians have kept this airworthiness given the ban on spare parts. The Iranian aerospace industry is one of the best in the world in keeping old aircraft airworthy.”…………”
For some reason they can’t seem to get more modern warplanes from their Chinese and Russian allies. Or maybe the mullahs are just as attached to old American jets as the Shah was to new ones.
In any case, they have managed to improvise and build up their technical skills and weapons industries. Necessity is truly the mother of invention, and a fount of new research, technical skill, and knowledge. If and when the American-European blockade is lifted, they will probably find themselves with a robust domestic weapons and space industry that can only be rivaled by the Israelis.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum