Iranian state-affiliated media has reported the death of two fighter pilots at Dezful Air Base, with claims a “technical defect” caused their ejector seats to engage, firing the pilots into the hangar roof.
Speaking to IRNA on Tuesday, Ali Farahmandpour, deputy governor and special governor of Dezful, confirmed that the incident occurred on the ground and there had been no flying on Monday.
He stated that all flights can be observed on radar programs, adding that any claim that the plane crashed during a flight was fake news. The jet is not damaged, Farahmandpour told IRNA.
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“More details about this incident and its martyred pilots will be informed through the fourth air force base of Dezful,” he added.
According to reports, the deaths occurred when ejector seats were wrongly activated for both the front and rear cockpits. The pilots, identified by the media as Kianoosh Basati and Hossein Nami, lost their lives as a result of a severe impact with the roof of the hangar.
The incident reportedly occurred in an F-5 training aircraft. Iran has a number of legacy F-5, used for training, while the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company currently produces three aircraft, the Azarakhsh, Saeqeh, and Kowsar, derived from the US jet.
Iran-China fighter deal
Since the end of the 1970s, Iran has been the target of international sanctions that have limited its ability to acquire new aircraft. The restrictive measures have been used as a way for the United States to strongarm the policies of the Islamic republic, particularly on its nuclear program. While Iran previously seemed to have found an alternative supplier in China, things appear more complicated.
A dire need of new aircraft
In 2015, the United States President Barack Obama reached an agreement with the Iranian regime after years of negotiations: Iran would give up its nuclear program in exchange for a progressive lift of the international sanctions affecting its economy. Several plane manufacturers, including Boeing and Airbus, had signed contracts to deliver an array of much-needed new aircraft to the Iranian carriers.
But in May 2018, the US administration decided to reimpose sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran, described by newly-elected President Donald Trump as the main sponsor of international terrorism. Only the Franco-Italian planemaker ATR managed to deliver five aircraft to Iran Air on August 5, 2018, a mere day before new American sanctions take effect.
Much like the country’s airlines, the Iranian Air Force is in dire need of new aircraft, especially fighter jets.
RT with additional input by GVS News Desk