Iranian Shafagh near completion.
Iran's twin-seat Shafagh prototype nears completion
15 Feb 2005
Iran's Malek-Ashtar University of Technology expects to conduct the first flight of its twin-seat Shafagh trainer late this year, with a first prototype nearing completion.
Also referred to as the M-AT/XXIC and exhibited in model form at last month's Iran air show on Kish Island, the Shafagh is believed to have last year completed mock-up inspection and windtunnel testing. Designed with assistance from Russian industry, the Iranian aircraft resembles Yakovlev's Yak-130 trainer, with large wing root extensions to enable high-angle-of-attack manoeuvres, but has a twin-fin vertical tail and a single engine.
Tehran-based Malek-Ashtar says an engine has already been selected, but declines to name the powerplant. Successful flight testing could lead the Iranian defence ministry to approve the Shafagh for series production, with combat trainer and light fighter variants also under consideration.
Provisionally referred to as the M-ATF, the latter version is viewed as a potential replacement for the Iranian air force's Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II fighters.
Several companies and specialist universities form the focus of Iranâs aviation defense industries effort. The universities are tasked with proof of concept, development and early trials. Upon reaching their milestones, final trials and production are taken up by the aviation companies.
Iran Aviation Industries Organization announced at the airshow that it had reached the milestone of manufacturing all parts of the TF30 engines of the IRIAFâs F-14 Tomcats. According to the announcement by the project director, IAIO is now able to assemble entire TF30s from domestically-manufactured parts. Iranian engine specialists have around 30 yearsâ working experience with this powerplant. After all, they managed to keep the IRIAFâs F-14 fleet aloft through the Iran-Iraq War, despite US sanctions.
Furthermore, Iran has been spending a lot of time and energy on development of the Shafaq advanced jet trainer and M-ATF air superiority fighter, models of which were on display at Malek Ashtar Universityâs stand. The university is closely affiliated with Iranâs aerospace industry. Its head of aeronautic design said that the Shafaq was nearing the end of its design stage.
The single-engined, tandem two-seat aircraft resembles the Yak-130 from its nose to just aft of the wingsâ trailing edges, but it has a twin-tail design similar to the defunct Polish âSkorpionâ ground attack aircraft. The wing area is larger and the angle of sweep appears more pronounced than the Yak jet trainer, presenting the possibility of the aircraft being capable of sustained supersonic speeds of perhaps just over Mach 1. It has a one-piece cockpit canopy and the tandem cockpit does possess central control columns, contrary to previous reports. It is equipped with digital avionics and MFD, marking a major step forward in the technology employed by Iranâs aviation industries. The aircraft will undergo further modifications before it enters service with the IRIAF. A light interceptor/ground attack version with an uprated engine is on the cards to fill the gap created by the retirement of the IRIAFâs F-5E/F Tiger IIs.
The other model on display at the Malek Ashtar stand at Kish was of the M-ATF air superiority fighter. The Iranian press reported a while back that the design stage of a fighter designated Saeqe-80 had been completed, this supposedly being a scaled-up F-5F with Russian engines. However, many experts believe the whole thing may have been an elaborate hoax to keep under wraps the development of M-ATF or a similar design. What may substantiate this is that, several months ago, a photograph of a twin-tailed F-5E called Saeqe-2 was released in the West. It looked no larger than an F-5 and therefore unable to accommodate two Russian afterburning engines. The twin tail appeared âscabbed onâ, so the aircraft may have indeed been a test bed. Should we draw a comparison between Saeqe-2âs twin tail and the proposed M-ATFâs, it therefore obvious that Saeqe-2 has been fitted with M-ATFâs tail configuration to perform highâspeed flight trials hence, Saeqe-80 may be nearing completion. Furthermore, it may indeed be a revised version of the much anticipated Azarakhsh (Lightening) fighter design.
Combat Aircraft pg 28 May 2005