Manufacturer Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company
First flight July 2004
Introduced 22 September 2007
Primary user Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force
Number built 5 confirmed, 24 planned
Developed from F-5E Tiger II HESA Azarakhsh
Saeqeh (Persian "thunderbolt"), or Saeqeh-80, is an Iranian built single-seater fighter jet. It is the second generation of the Iranian Azarakhsh fighter. Saeqeh fighter planes tested successfully in Iran 20 September 2007 . The Saeqeh is a joint product of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force and the Iranian Ministry of Defense.
The first prototype of the jet was shown on state television making a test flight in July 2004. According to the translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) of a broadcast on Islamic Republic of Iran News Network (IRINN), the Saeqeh became operational on September 6, 2006, when it participated in an Iranian military wargame exercise called "Blow of Zulfiqar". In that exercise, which began August 19, 2006, the new fighter carried out actions described as "a mission to bomb virtual enemy targets", and "a mock bombing mission". Two prototypes, which appeared to differ from the one that had been shown previously, conducted a fly-past at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport on 20 September 2007. Three prototypes took part in a military parade on 22 September 2007.
Iran has announced that it will test fly the other variants of the Saeqeh in the near future which will differ from the previous aircraft due to major changes in its weapon system, aerodynamics and operational range.
Little information on the specifications of the Saeqeh has been released. The Commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, Brigadier-General Ahmad Mighani, said that the Saeqeh is up-to-date in terms of aerodynamic balance and in possessing missile and radar systems. The Managing Director of the Aviation Organization of the Ministry of Defense and Logistics of the Armed Forces, Majid Hedayat, described the Saeqeh as a logistic and combat plane with high maneuvering capability and an ability to bombard close targets.
Iranian officials have claimed that the Saeqeh is similar to the US-built F/A-18, although it is modeled after the US F-5E/F Tiger II and its outer appearance is similar to the latter.
As with many previous indigenous Iranian developed weapons, no performance data has been released to verify "official" claims. In 2008 Iran announced the aircraft has a range of 3,000 km. The fighter-bomber had the ability to track down enemy aircraft, engage in combat, target locations on the ground, and carry an assortment of weapons and ammunition.
The Iranian Minister of Defense, Brigadier-General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, announced that the Defense Ministry had started to design such a jet on 6 August 2007, which could not be the Saeqeh because it had already flown by that date.