Israeli experts cast doubt on Sunday about the authenticity of a new radar-evading fighter jet unveiled by Iran over the weekend.
In an unveiling ceremony inside a hangar on Saturday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled the futuristic-looking F-313 fighter jet, saying it ranks among the most sophisticated aircraft in the world.
Code-named the Qaher (Conqueror) F-313 and shaped similar to stealth bombers, the grey warplane was designed and built domestically, Ahmadinejad boasted.
Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi was quoted in media as saying the plane boasted a very low radar signature, and that "advanced materials" were used to build it.
Israeli experts who looked over the photos that were released of the jet, however, told the Ma’ariv daily they doubted it was authentic.
“This is not an airplane, because it does not look like a real airplane,” Tal Inbar, head of the Space Research Center at the Fisher Institute for Air & Space Strategic Studies told Ma’ariv.
He added, “It may be a model made out of carton, metal, fiberglass or plastic or some kind of other hard material. Iran has no capability to build aircraft. Plain and simple. But Tehran has succeeded in its propaganda campaign. "
According to Inbar, the plane presented by the Iranians “resembles an old F-5 that was adapted by a director to be in a propaganda film. When you look at close-up shots shown by the Iranians of the inside of the cockpit, you can see it has no avionics. Everything looks like plastic.”
Saturday’s unveiling of the fighter jet came as Iran marks the 34th anniversary of the 1979 revolution, which replaced the U.S.-backed shah with an Islamic regime.
Iran traditionally uses the anniversary period to showcase military, space and nuclear advances, against a backdrop of international sanctions.
Iranian pronouncements of achievements have increased in recent years, as Tehran desperately aims to prove the West's embargo on its military, technology and economy have failed to dent its determination.
On January 28, Iran claimed it sent a monkey into space to an altitude of 120 kilometers for a sub-orbital flight, challenging Security Council sanctions against the development of its ballistic program.
Reports on Friday, however, indicated that the “space monkey” may have been made up.
Images from a press conference billed as a hero’s welcome for the monkey showed the animal that was sent into space as having light fur and a distinctive red mole over its right eye. The monkey that supposedly returned from space, however, was dark haired and had no mole.