Brigadier General Alireza Barkhor, the deputy commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, has stated that a two-seat derivative of the country’s homemade Saeqeh (Thunderbolt) fighter will be unveiled in a matter of months. He was hopeful that the aircraft could be ready in time to take part in the April 18 flypast over Tehran as part of National Army Day.
Last month the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia invalidated Bell Helicopter’s claims against Iran for manufacturing and selling knock-offs of the JetRanger. Iran has been manufacturing a look-a-like helicopter without authorization since 2002 under various names. Federal Judge Judith Rogers ruled there was a “lack of evidence that Iran’s commercial activity caused a ‘direct effect’ in the United States.”
Any potential thaw in U.S.-Iran relations is unlikely to relax long-standing economic sanctions that have hobbled the latter’s commercial and defense aviation sectors for decades. Most recently, United Nations’ Resolution 1696, in force since 2006 and in response to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, has limited Iran’s ability to obtain approved spare and replacement aircraft components and to conduct international financial transactions.
Iran is continuing its global, coordinated and illegal campaign to smuggle Bell helicopters and spares to keep its fleet flying in contravention of international arms embargoes. Several high-profile international arrests in late May, one in London and the remainder in Spain, point to a fresh round of smuggling activity.
An IranAir Boeing 727 crashed last night in the suburbs of the city of Orumiyeh in northwestern Iran, killing at least 77 people and injuring 27, according to the Iranian Fars News Agency (FNA).
Iran unveiled a jet-powered UAV that it claimed could deliver two 250-pound bombs to targets beyond 600-miles range. The Karar drone appears to be in the same class as the CL-289 UAV designed and built for reconnaissance by Canadair in the 1980s.
Robert Kraaipoel, 66, a citizen of the Netherlands and the director of Aviation Services International (ASI), an aircraft parts supply company in the Netherlands, has pleaded guilty to one count criminal information in federal court in the District of Columbia. Robert Neils Kraaipoel, 40, ASI’s sales manager, also a citizen of the Netherlands, and son of Robert Kraaipoel, entered the same plea.
A Tupolev Tu-154 operated by Iran’s Caspian Airlines crashed today near the city of Qazvin in northwestern Iran, killing all 168 people on board, according to country’s official state news service. The Russian-built airliner, one of five Tu-154Ms operated by the airline, crashed just before noon local time, 16 minutes after taking off from its base at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport on a flight to the Armenian capital Yerevan.
Western powers increasingly characterize Iran as a potential cause for instability in the Middle East. The U.S. and its allies charge Tehran with funding and supporting the insurgency in Iraq, maintaining a well-developed ballistic missile program and seeking its own nuclear arsenal.
Iranian customers have recently placed orders for 15 locally built Shahed-278 light helicopters, but suppliers from around the world see Iran as a market ripe for development. The interest reflects the growing demand for modern rotorcraft to support Iran’s flourishing oil, shipping and construction business industries, as well as for medevac and VIP travel.
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