We've had a look at some video from Iran's air parade, held yesterday as part of the annual Army Day celebration. Call us underwhelmed, at best.
According to the Tehran Times, at least 200 aircraft took part in the event. That would be more than the number expected, if the paper's estimate is correct.
But, as we noted in our preview of the air parade, the aircraft displayed were decidedly old. When the highlight clip begins with 35-year-old F-4 Phantoms, well, your "parade" is more a heritage flight than a display of military might. And sure enough, the Phantom fly-by was followed by other aging aircraft, including U.S.-built "Huey" helicopters.
As expected, the Iranian Air Force used the event to showcase its "new" Saegeh fighters, but that jet is nothing more than a rebuilt F-5 (acquired from the U.S. in the 1960s), with slightly upgraded avionics and a second vertical stabilizer. A highlight clip from the parade (courtesy of the MediaLine) shows three of the "new" fighters, which may represent most of Saegehs currently operational in the Iranian Air Force.
Along with the aircraft, this year's Army Day parade also featured other types of military equipment, including battlefield missiles and rockets, and at least one Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile, capble of striking Israel. From the video clip, we couldn't tell if the transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicle was a new model, or one of the older ones.
The distinction is important; according to western missile experts, Iran's early Shahab-3 TELs could not elevate a fueled missile to the launch position. That would require Iranian crews to erect the missile and fuel it before firing, lengthening the launch cycle and increasing their vulnerability to detection and attack.
Friday's event also featured a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, filled with the usual blather. Here are a few "highlights." Spew alert: put down your glass or swallow your beverage before you read these howlers:
Addressing the ceremony, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad described the army as a “strong citadel” and “unrivaled defensive power” against the enemies’ threats.
He said, “Iran is the most powerful and popular nation in the world” whose “efforts and achievements are at the service of human excellence, peace, and friendship”.
“Iran is now so powerful that none of the world’s hegemonic powers are capable of threatening its security,” he stated.
At least the rhetoric of Iran's president matched the equipment on display. Nothing new (as far as we could tell), and decidedly unimpressive.