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  • HESA Saeqeh (Thunderbolt) Lightweight Multirole Fighter


    The HESA Saeqeh appeared on global media radars in July of 2004 and is nothing more than a Iranian take on the American F-5 Tiger.

     Updated: 8/14/2015; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com


    The Islamic Republic of Iran has benefited greatly from their associations with both the United States (pre-1979 revolution) and the Soviet Union/Russia to the point that their indigenous arms industry has finally begun to show the fruits consistent with decades of operation and re-engineering of various weapon systems comprised of assault rifles, main battle tanks and aircraft. Iran fielded the simple, export-minded American-made Northrop F-5 Tigers in its war with Iraq during the 1980s as well as the Grumman F-14 Tomcats and McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom IIs. Along with these aircraft came the base technology within - modern avionics, afterburning turbojet engines and guided missile technology. At least 140 American F-5 Tigers were delivered to the Iranian Air Force with some 60 or so still believed to be operational today.

    The Saeqeh (Thunderbolt) is a joint development effort concerning Iranian Ministry of Defense and the Iranian Air Force to produce a budget-minded local multirole aircraft platform displaying modern systems, qualities and capabilities of her contemporaries worldwide. The initial Saeqeh prototype was first flown on May 30th, 2004 and showcased to the Iranian public on state-run television in July of that year and is known to have participated in the August 2006 wargame. At least three prototypes were also featured in a follow-up September 2007 military parade. The aircraft was formally introduced into service with the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) on September 22nd, 2007.

    Outwardly, the Saeqeh is of a conventional design and layout, appearing as something of a slight cross-breed consisting of the American-made Northrop F-5 Tiger and the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. It is more in the class of the former, however, due to Iranian experience in the operation of the F-5 from decades prior. The cockpit is situated in the forward fuselage which consists of a long nose cone housing a radar system. The cockpit is covered over in a large canopy and only the rear view is covered by the fuselage spine - the rest of the views out of the cockpit are unobstructed. Wins are low-set monoplane assemblies fitted to amidships. The fuselage is straddled by a pair of intake ducts that run three-quarters of the fuselage length and aspirate the two engines. Each intake features a smallish rectangular opening at the front and exhausts through a pair of circular rings at the rear. Instead of the F-5 Tiger's single vertical tail fin, the Saeqeh fields a pair of outward canted vertical fins similar in scope to the F/A-18 Hornet. The undercarriage is of a conventional tricycle design made up of two main legs and a nose leg. The main legs retract inwards towards centerline while the nose leg retracted forward, under and ahead of the cockpit floor. The twin engine arrangement and twin vertical tail fins are the key differentiating features of the Saeqeh when compared to the F-5.


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    HESA Saeqeh (Thunderbolt) Technical Specifications


    Service Year: 2014
    Type: Lightweight Multirole Fighter
    National Origin: Iran
    Manufacturer(s): Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company - Iran
    Production Total: 24



    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)


    Operating Crew: 1
    Length: 52.13 feet (15.89 meters)
    Width: 26.67 feet (8.13 meters)
    Height: 13.12 feet (4.00 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 9,700 lb (4,400 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 19,842 lb (9,000 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance


    Engine(s): 2 x Afterburning turbojet engines (most likely related to the General Electric J85-GE-21 turbojet line).

    Maximum Speed: 1,056 mph (1,700 kph; 918 knots)
    Maximum Range: 1,864 miles (3,000 km)
    Service Ceiling: 52,493 feet (16,000 meters; 9.94 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 34,400 feet-per-minute (10,485 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload


    ESTIMATED:
    2 x 20mm M39A2 Gatling-style internal cannons

    Seven external hardpoints (including wingtips and fuselage centerline) for air-to-air, air-to-surface guided or drop munitions including missiles, bombs, rocket pods, and fuel droptanks.

    Global Operators / Customers


    Iran

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)


    Saeqeh - Base Fighter Designation

    Sa'eqeh - Alternative Name

    Saegheh - Alternative Name

    Saeqeh-80 - Alternative Designation

    Saeqeh-2 - Updated variant with two-seat configuration; modernized avionics and equipment set.