Iran's new Qaher-313 stealth fighter

Iran has unveiled what it says is a new stealth fighter called the Qaher-313. Perhaps, this is just me as a product of the 1980s, but this aircraft looks a lot like an old GI Joe toy.The Iranians would have you believe this is some sort of highly advanced stealth strike aircraft that they've already designed, built and flown. But this, frankly speaking, looks unimpressive--and if I had to put money down on it, I say it's a mock-up. I suppose it could be some sort of test bed, but I'm highly skeptical.

So the first thing to notice is that this machine is tiny, and the entire aircraft is made up of faceted panels like the old 1970s-era Lockheed Have Blue or F-117. The skin panels look very much like they're made of the same fiberglass [an earlier version said carbon fiber, which was my error] sheets a friend of mine acquired a few years ago to build his sailboat (though this stuff here appears to be of lesser quality). So that doesn't inspire much confidence.

The configuration looks a lot like the bizarre illegitimate love child of a Have Blue and Boeing Bird of Prey with some added canards. The canards are fixed in place, but do have flight control surfaces installed. It'll be interesting to see what kind of pitch authority they get out of those. In some ways, this aircraft also reminds me of the old McDonnell Douglas X-36 unmanned subscale test bed--if only due to the tiny size (kidding, more the planform).

The most interesting part is the exhaust, it's hard to say for sure if there is an engine installed or not. If there is, it's small and probably not equipped with an afterburner (and I suspect they'll run into some serious problems with heat in either case). That matches up with the small dorsally mounted twin air inlets up front just behind the canopy.Given the types of engines Iran has access to--and can reasonably reverse engineer--one can deduce that the power plant is a version of the General Electric J85. The J85 is the only engine that they can probably get a hold off that is small enough to fit into an aircraft so diminutive--not to mention get enough air from those tiny inlets. The fact that those air inlets are on top of the fuselage would also suggest the Qaher-313 is not really a fighter per se since that would negatively impact high angle of attack performance. Also those airfoils look pretty thick, so I'd bet this thing is subsonic... That points to it being a strike platform if it is indeed a real combat aircraft.

Being so small, despite the Iranians' insistence that this is a genuine combat aircraft, there can't be that much room for fuel, let alone weapons, onboard. There doesn't appear to be much room for avionics such as radar or anything else for that matter. There also appears to be few, if any, access panels, which is weird.The cockpit, if you take a closer look, doesn't really look like it's finished. If anything, from inside the cockpit, this jet's instrument panel looks like it was lifted from a newish-model general aviation aircraft. There appears to be no provisions for a head-up display--which is typically found in most modern fighter aircraft except the Lockheed Martin F-35, which has a helmet-mounted display. The canopy seems to be made of poor quality Plexiglas with some really bad optical qualities. Check out the distortion looking through the transparency below.

But nonetheless, there is a video (check out the link to the main story above) that allegedly shows this thing flying. Time will tell if this is a serious development or not--I suspect not, but we'll see.