America Has Little To Fear From Iran's Qaher 313 Stealth Fighter

April 1, 2020 Topic: Security Region: Middle East Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: IranIranian Air ForceQaher 313Stealth FightersMilitary

America Has Little To Fear From Iran's Qaher 313 Stealth Fighter

If the United States and Iran ever went to war, Iran’s old by still air-worthy airframes could theoretically pose a threat to the United States. The Qaher 313 would pose no threat at all — here’s why

At first glance, the 313 has some features that would be expected of a stealth aircraft — it has V-shaped tail stabilizers, like both the United States’ stealthy aircraft, the F-22 and F-35. Despite this similarity, there are many problems.

One of the problems with the 313 is the nose. Most military jets house radar antennas in their nose, which are not compact. The 313’s nose is much too small to house a radar antenna, or at least one of a reasonable size.

One of the biggest problems is the cockpit. Photos from the 313’s release show a pilot sitting in an impossibly small cockpit, almost child-sized. It appears that the pilot’s helmet would hit the glass canopy (which in photos appears to be horribly scratched or wavy, not the way a glass canopy should look).

David Cenciotti of The Aviationist commented on an interesting scaled-down model that was built and shown to him:

“The size of the plane is weird,” he confirmed. “The cockpit seems to be too small, to such an extent a normal pilot doesn’t properly fit in the ejection seat. Have you ever seen a pilot with his knees above the side borders of the cockpit and his helmet well beyond the ejection seat’s head pad?”

 

The other major problem with the cockpit is the layout and the wiring. The folks at The Aviationist said “The cockpit seems to be basic (a bit too much for a modern plane – note the lack of wirings behind the front panel and the presence of few instruments, some of those similar to those equipping small private planes…).”

Another problem is the jet engine air intakes. They’re impossibly small. And, on the other end, the engine rear does not have any kind of nozzle with which to direct air and exhaust. It almost seems the jet would melt itself if it actually had an engine inside.

 

There is even a video that apparently shows the 313’s first flight. Although aircraft shown in the video has essentially the same overall shape as the 313, some of its handling characteristics are a bit odd, particularly when it banks or turns. It looks rather like a remote-controlled scaled-down model, rather than a full-scale jet aircraft.

What is not shown in the video is perhaps more important that was is shown: there is no landing and no take-off clip from the video. Both a landing and taking off clip would allow the scale of the aircraft to be better estimated.

The fact that these clips are missing lends credence to the idea that the 313 is either a mockup or a remote-controlled toy.

Birds and Planes

Iran’s fleet of aircraft is old and antiquated. Most are refurbished American airframes, or American planes rebadged as domestic Iranian productions. Almost miraculously, Iran has been able to keep its pre-Revolution American birds in the sky for much longer than expected.

Some of the airframes doubtlessly have many more flight hours in them than they safely should. Despite this, Iran has kept them in the fight. Some F-4 Phantoms were seen over Syria going on bombing runs and targeting ISIS.

Despite Iran’s aircraft age, the United States would take their threat seriously in the event of war. Thankfully, stealthy Iranian aircraft are one type of jet that the United States does not have to worry about.

Caleb Larson is a Defense Writer with The National Interest. He holds a Master of Public Policy and covers U.S. and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture.