A F-4 Phantom combat jet operated by the Iranian Air Force crashed on the 26th November with the loss of both pilots. The incident occurred off Iran's southeast coast, with the aircraft coming down in the Oman Sea.
The Phantom is understood to have been on a training flight when the crash occurred.
At one time, Iran's Air Force was ranked among the middle east's elite, with a powerful arsenal of mainly American-designed fighters. However, in 1979, the introduction of an Islamic regime fractured Iranian/US relations to the point of an embargo being imposed, which stands to this day.
Throughout the majority of the 1980s, Iran fought with Iraq. During this period, the US sanctions and their limitations ignited the development of Iran's home-grown military aircraft production.
US-Built Fighters Make up Majority of Iran's Air Force
Since the mid-1980s, Iran has actively purchased a number of Russian-built aircraft - predominantly those made by the Sukhoi firm. It is not definitively known, however, how many examples remain in service. The majority of experts concur that the larger part of the Iranian Air Force's fighter inventory is comprised of American F-14 Tomcat, F-4 Phantom and F-5 designs.
Iran, looking to augment its aerial arsenal in light of increasing tensions over the state of its nuclear development, is now seeking to acquire newer Chinese and Russian aircraft to replace its mainly obsolete fleet.
Iran's Saegheh Combat Jet
Iran's domestic aircraft manufacturing programme has produced the Saegheh jet, which first flew in 2006. In recent months, Iran claimed that the type's test flights had effectively "scared its enemies."
The US-built McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom is a classic military aircraft - first flown in 1958, but still in service with a number of nations around the world. Iran aside, these include Japan, Greece, Turkey and Germany.
Source - Armed Forces International's Aviation Expert
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