Iran doubles range of Sidewinder air-to-air missiles

The deputy commander of the Iranian Army’s Air Force has highlighted the country’s progress in developing air-launched missiles, saying the Islamic Republic has successfully extended the range of its Sidewinder air-to-air missiles to 12 miles.

“We have succeeded in increasing the range of Sidewinder air-to-air missiles from five to eight-twelve miles,” Brigadier General Hamid Vahedi made the remarks in an interview with Tasnim news agency on Wednesday.

The improved range, he added, could notably boost aerial combats.

Vahedi further said the Air Force had started to develop a heavyweight fighter jet after manufacturing the home-grown Kowsar warplanes, which were first unveiled in August 2018.

He described Kowsar as an Iranian jet with indigenized avionics and homegrown engines that has nothing to do with the F-5 fighter jets.

Kowsar, a fourth-generation all-indigenous interceptor jet, is equipped with advanced avionics and fire control systems and can be manufactured in both single- and double-cockpit types, the latter of which can be used for advanced pilot training missions in addition to its combat capability.

The achievement has made Iran one of the few countries with the know-how to design and manufacture such aircraft.

Pointing to military projects to upgrade the radar capabilities of the Air Force’s planes, Vahidi said good progress has been made in this regard.

The Iranian commander said that the country had achieved great success in increasing the stealth capabilities of various types of aircraft, adding that that the new achievements would be unveiled after undergoing final tests.

The general further pointed to the breakthrough Iran has made in the drone industry, saying the Karrar unmanned aircraft successfully dropped a 500-pound bomb.

The Air Force has also armed the Ababil-3 drones with rockets, he said, adding that preparations are underway to equip drones with Qaem-1 and Qaem-5 precision-guided bombs.

Over the past years, Iran has made major breakthroughs in its defense sector and attained self-sufficiency in producing military equipment and hardware despite sanctions and economic pressures imposed on the country. 

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