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HESA Azarakhsh (Lightning)

Iran (1997)
Picture of HESA Azarakhsh (Lightning) Strike Fighter Aircraft

The HESA Azarakhsh is yet another Iranian take on the American F-5 Tiger II, the F-5E model in particular, and serves in the strike fighter role.


Detailing the development and operational history of the HESA Azarakhsh (Lightning) Strike Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 10/23/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

Iran received the first of its Northrop F-5 "Freedom Fighter" aircraft from the United States beginning in February of 1965 and these joined the Iranian Air Force at an operational level in June of that year. The original A- and B-model stocks were then sold off to make room in inventory for the F-5E and F-5F models ("Tiger II") that followed. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 eliminated any further deliveries of American-originated military equipment and forced a reliance other export nations friendly to the new regime or a decided evolution of current Iranian aero-industry prowess.

With the valuable experience in operating the F-5 line, the country eventually took to reengineering the F-5 line for its own purposes, producing all-new modern variants to fit ongoing over-battlefield requirements. One development was the HESA "Saeqeh" ("Thunderbolt") which appeared in 2007 for the fighter role (and is detailed elsewhere on this site). Twin, outward-canted vertical tail fins clearly differentiated this model from the original American design. Before this version was debuted, Iranian industry put together the foundation for what became the HESA "Azarakhsh" ("Lightning"), a strike fighter-minded off-shoot of the same F-5 Freedom Fighter / Tiger line.

The Azarakhsh, developed directly from the F-5E Tiger II model, was introduced for formal frontline service in 1997. It retains the same form and function of the original including its twin engine, twin intake arrangement, long and slender nosecone assembly, and low-mounted wing appendages. The aircraft is crewed by a sole operator and houses radar in its nose while being outfitted with missiles and holding an inherent capability to carry air-to-ground munitions in the form of conventional drop bombs, rocket pods and the like. The wingtip stations are reserved for short-ranged Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs) that clearly resemble the American AIM-9 "Sidewinder". Unlike the Saeqeh, the Azarakhsh sees only a single tailfin fitted (as in the original F-5). Fixed standard armament is 2 x 20mm cannons with approximately 250 to 280 rounds afforded per gun.
While performance specs remain largely under wraps, it is assumed that the Iranian aircraft displays some of the same numbers encountered with the original design. It is also assumed that the series still makes use of General Electric turbojet engines rated at about 5,000 lb thrust each with afterburner (3,500 lb thrust dry) which leads to a maximum speed of 1,050 miles per hour (Mach 1.6), a ferry range out to 2,300 miles, and a service ceiling up to 51,500 feet. Rate-of-climb may very well exceed 34,000 feet-per-minute.

American-made F-5E models were completed with Emerson Electric AN/APQ-153 and -159 series radars as well as AN/AVQ-27 Laser Target Designator Sets (LTDSs). Sources indicate the Azarakhsh to be of 2nd or 3rd Generation Fighter quality/capability (work on a possible 4th Generation Fighter form is unknown) and could carry these fits even today or an alternative, locally-derived radar fit instead.

Production of the system has reportedly been slow and a published three-year window called for some thirty or so aircraft to be delivered though this has not been verified. As such, its presence - and value - within the Iranian Air Force inventory is questionable.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 1100mph
Lo: 550mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (1,056mph).

    Graph average of 825 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the HESA Azarakhsh (Lightning)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
41
41


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


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Origin: Iran
Year: 1997
Type: Strike Fighter Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (IAIO) / Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA) - Iran
Production: 41
Status: Active, Limited Service
Global Operators:
Iran
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the HESA Azarakhsh (Lightning) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
47.41 ft


Meters
14.45 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
26.74 ft


Meters
8.15 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
13.45 ft


Meters
4.1 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
9,590 lb


Kilograms
4,350 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
24,725 lb


Kilograms
11,215 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x General Electric J85-GE-21B turbojet engines developing 5,000 lb thrust each with afterburner (3,500lb thrust dry).

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
1,056 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
1,700 kph


Knots
918 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
2,299 mi


Kilometers
3,700 km


Nautical Miles
1,998 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
51,837 ft


Meters
15,800 m


Miles
9.82 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
34,400 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
10,485 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Armament - Hardpoints (7 (Including Wingtips)):

STANDARD:
2 x 20mm M39A2 internal cannons (assumed)

OPTIONAL:
Up to 7,000 lb of externally-held stores across seven hardpoints (including wingtips reserved for AAMs.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• Azarakhah ("Lightning") - Base Series Name; six of first generation completed with four of a second generation mark and one of a 3rd generation mark.