Iran’s Air Force unveiled the first homegrown pilot-less wide-body jet on Thursday.
The unmanned jet, dubbed ‘Khodkar’ (automatic), was put on display at an exhibition of the Iranian Armed Force’s achievements in the aviation industry, held in Tehran.
The drone is a pilot-less version of T-33 training aircraft which has been upgraded to an unmanned wide-body jet.
The drone is equipped with two cameras, one mounted on the front of the fuselage as a substitute for cockpit view, and the other one beneath the fuselage used for landing and takeoff.
The jet is also furnished with antennas to receive signals from the GPS and GLONASS satellites, as well as transmitter antennas working in two wavebands.
Equipped with a J-85 turbojet engine, the aircraft also uses phased array antennas and is capable of recording data.
Iranian military technicians have in recent years made great headway in manufacturing a broad range of indigenous equipment, making the armed forces self-sufficient in the arms sphere.
Tehran has always assured other nations that its military might poses no threat to regional countries, saying that the Islamic Republic’s defense doctrine is entirely based on deterrence.
Iran also unveiled a new missile, Ghassed 3(Messenger), on Thursday.
The weapon is presented as a air-launched cruise missile, although details of its capabilities have not been fully disclosed.
According to Mehr, the Ghassed 3 can be carried by Iran’s aging F4 American jets, a few of which have remained in service from the 1970s, when Iran was a major client of U.S. arms and its airforce was equipped with F4s.
The brief information says that the missile can be guided by the pilot who receives images transmitted to the cockpit.
Mehr adds that the missile is in its last stages of tests. There have been other announcements of new weapons systems in the past that have seemingly not progressed beyond the design stage.
As tensions with the U.S. have intensified in the past one year, Iran often announces new weapons systems to show it is a strong military power; both to the outside world and to its domestic audience.
Iran’s ballistic missile program is one reason why President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal and both the U.S. and European powers are putting pressure on Tehran to curb its missile program.