Iran unveiled a domestically made stealth fighter jet on Saturday, part of its continued effort to showcase its locally made weapon systems.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a ceremony broadcast on state television that building the Qaher ("Conqueror") F-313 showcased Iran's dedication to "conquering scientific peaks."
Tehran has repeatedly claimed to have developed advanced military technologies in recent years, but its claims cannot be independently verified because the country does not release the technical details.
The state started producing its own military equipment in the 1980s to compensate for a Western weapons embargo that banned export of military technology and kit to Iran.
Iran's Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said: "Qaher is a fully indigenous aircraft designed and built by our aerospace experts. ... This is a radar-evading plane that can fly at low altitude, carry weapons, engage enemy aircrafts and land at short airstrips."
He said it was Iran's best stealth plane.
However, some reports suggest Iran's program relies on equipment supplied by major international defence contractors and that it incorporates parts made abroad or uses outside engineered technologies in its domestic designs.
Pictures of the Qaher released by the official Islamic Republic News Agency and pictures on state TV showed a single-seat jet. They described it as a fighter-bomber that can combat other aircraft and ground targets.
Iran's state-run Press TV said Qaher was similar to the American-made F/A-18, an advanced fighter capable of dogfighting as well as penetrating enemy air defences to strike ground targets.
Hasan Parvaneh, an official in charge of the project, said the physical design of the Iranian plane was unique and bore no resemblance to any foreign fighter jet.
Officials in Israel's defense establishment cast doubt on the capabilities of the F-313. "Without knowing too much, it looks like the plane has many flaws. Developing a fighter jet is not a simple task. It's quite unlikely that this plane will be a cause of concern for the Israeli Air Force, which is equipped with the best technology and will soon receive the U.S.'s most modern fighter jet [the F-35]," one official stated on Saturday.
The Aviationist blog noted that the F-313 had a "strange design," and that the canopy looks as though it was made from plexiglass. "Summing up: The shape is interesting with some innovative features but the F-313 displayed on Feb. 1, 2013, seems to be nothing more than a large mock-up model (not properly sized to accommodate a real pilot)."
Meanwhile, other recent Iranian achievements were questioned, as an article in The Times of London asserted on Saturday that Iran's launch of a monkey into space either did not really happen or the monkey did not survive.
Iran announced it successfully launched a monkey to space last Monday. The Times article said that in pictures of the monkey before the launch, the animal had a red birthmark over its right eye, while in pictures from after the launch it did not. "Clearly, this is a different creature," the paper wrote.
Iran responded by saying that one of the photos was an archive picture of a "backup" monkey which did not fly in the mission. Iran said the real monkey was in space for 20 minutes.