Experts cast doubt in Iran’s claim of air power

Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets, above, are part of Iran’s air force drill near the Strait of Hormuz in the Arabian Gulf, the passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2018

Experts cast doubt in Iran’s claim of air power

  • The drill involved fighter jets from the Iranian military and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
  • But experts cast doubt on Tehran’s air power

JEDDAH: Iran’s fleet of ageing warplanes took to the skies above the Arabian Gulf and the Sea of Oman on Friday in what Tehran billed as a “show of strength” to its adversaries.

The drill involved fighter jets from the Iranian military and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including US-made F-4, French Mirage and Russian Sukhoi-22 planes, and five logistics and combat helicopters.
Iran said the maneuvers were a warning to Iran’s enemies that they faced a quick, “stern response” and “pounding reply” in case of any ill-will.  

However, experts were quick to cast doubt on whether Iran’s air power presented any genuine threat. 

“This is the second exercise involving the Iranian army and the IRGC regarding scenarios for the Strait of Hormuz,” Dr. Theodore Karasik, senior adviser with Gulf State Analytics in Washington and a leading security analyst, told Arab News.

“While Tehran's exercises show that the ‘asymmetric’ doctrine is alive and well, the role of Iran's air assets is another question. Even if these aircraft are involved in an exercise, in an actual confrontation they would be picked off quite easily because Iran simply doesn’t have a viable air force.”

Iran attracted widespread international ridicule in August when it unveiled what it said was its first domestically designed and manufactured fighter jet. The Kowsar was said to be a “fourth-generation” warplane with advanced avionics, radar and fire-control systems, to be used for short aerial support.

The launch was attended by President Hassan Rouhani, who was photographed in the cockpit. However, aviation experts quickly pointed out that the new jet was in fact a slightly modified Northrop F-5, designed in the 1950s and used by US forces since the 1960s.

A more serious threat to regional security and stability takes place on Saturday, when Iran will stage a naval military drill in the Gulf, involving about 600 naval vessels.

“Their naval capabilities are much better than their air force,” Karasik said. “Their scenario practice involves asymmetric naval strikes with speed boats, and also the laying of mines.”

Tehran has suggested in recent weeks that it could take military action in the Gulf to block other countries’ oil exports in retaliation for US sanctions intended to halt its sales of crude, which begin on Nov.4.
Washington maintains a fleet in the Gulf that protects oil shipping routes, and has pledged that the flow of oil will not be interrupted.
Tehran has been under increasing pressure since May, when President Donald Trump pulled America out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. US allies in Asia are already cutting back on their purchases of Iranian crude.
In July, Rouhani said that if renewed sanctions threatened Iran’s crude oil exports, the rest of the Middle East’s exports would be threatened as well.


Bashir defense asks Sudan court for bail release

Updated 20 min 1 sec ago

Bashir defense asks Sudan court for bail release

  • Bashir, wearing a traditional white gown, sat in the same metal cage he appeared in on Monday when his trial on graft charges opened
  • The former Sudanese leader is also wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague over his role in mass killings in the western region of Darfur

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s deposed military ruler Omar Al-Bashir appeared in court Saturday for the second hearing of his corruption trial, during which his defense asked for his release on bail.
Bashir, wearing a traditional white gown, sat in the same metal cage he appeared in on Monday when his trial on graft charges opened.
The judge in Khartoum Saturday heard three witnesses, two of them investigators who searched Bashir’s residency after his ouster and the other a banker.
“We ask the court to release the accused on bail,” Bashir’s lawyer Hashem Abu Bakr said, to which the judge answered he would examine a written request.
After the hearing, as a massive security convoy escorted the 75-year-old Bashir back to prison, two opposing groups of demonstrators had gathered.
One group of a few dozen protesters were chanting slogans for Bashir to face justice not just over corruption but for his role in the the country’s deadly conflicts.
“Bashir is a killer” and “He has to face justice,” chanted some of the demonstrators.
Another smaller group had turned out in support of the deposed Islamist general, who was forced from power by relentless protests in April after 30 years in power.
While the sight of Bashir sitting inside a cage in a courtroom was unthinkable only months ago, many in Sudan and abroad have warned that this trial should not distract from the more serious indictments he faces.
The former Sudanese leader is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague over his role in mass killings in the western region of Darfur.