Like the nations of Brazil, India and Turkey, Iran seeks to become more militarily independent through local industry. This thinking has given rise to a new indigenous product advanced jet trainer known as "Kowsar-88" being developed by Iran Aviation Industries Organization (IAIO). The aircraft was unveiled in April 2017 and is planned for a first-flight sometime in late-2017 or early-2018 (the latter more likely). A scheduled five-year test program sets service entry for the early 2020s.
The Iranian Air Force has been flying American-designed, jet-powered Northrop F-5 Tiger jet fighters for decades and this no doubt has provided much-needed experience in the maintenance and repair of lightweight high-speed aircraft.
Externally, the aircraft is highly conventional as advanced jet trainers go. It seats its crew of two, in tandem, under a long-running, largely unobstructed canopy (hinged along starboard side) aft of a short nosecone (housing one of two embedded avionics suites). The wing mainplanes are low-set along the fuselage sides and mostly straight in their lines with clipped tips (slight sweepback is noted along the leading edges). The tailplane arrangement is traditional, encompassing a single vertical stabilizer and a pair of low-set, all-moving horizontal planes. The undercarriage is of a tricycle arrangement and retractable, involving a single-wheeled nose leg and a pair of single-wheeled main legs. Flight controls are hydraulically actuated. Another avionics fit is set behind the second cockpit.
The engine, detailed as the "J90" (an Iranian engineered version of the famous General Electric J85 turbojet used in the F-5), is a turbofan manufactured locally. These are fitted at the wing roots, aspirated by half-moon intakes along the fuselage sides and exhausted through smallish ports a short distance away.
Revealed specifications include a wingspan of 36 feet and a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 13,620lb.
As it stands (July 2017), the Iranian air service has commissioned for fifty of these aircraft in its effort to modernize amidst ongoing sanctions pushed by the West. Ground testing is said to have begun with flight-testing set to follow in late-2017.
Beyond its intended advanced jet trainer role, the Kowsar-88 is also being explored for the light attack / Close Air Support (CAS) role though there has been little evidence to date to suggest that much work in the latter has been completed.
July 2017 - The Kowsar-88 was showcased at MAKS 2017 in Moscow.
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