Iran has started mass-producing its very own domestically-designed fourth-generation Kowsar fighter jet as Tehran prepares for sweeping US sanctions.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the start of manufacturing, Defence Minister Brigadier-General Amir Hatami praised Iranian engineers for their success in the face of “the enemy’s psychological warfare, propagandist blackmail, and economic sanctions”.

Brig-Gen Hatami said Iran would “spare no effort” developing “peaceful defence technologies” to protect its sovereignty.

But he warned: “Soon the required number of these planes will be produced and put at the service of the Air Force.”

State media said the Kowsar boasted “advanced avionics”, a multipurpose radar and a fire control system linked to a digital military data network as well as an independent radio navigation system.

It was officially launched in August when President Hassan Rouhani insisted Tehran’s military strength was only designed to deter enemies and aimed at creating “lasting peace”.

At the launch, Mr Hatami said the aircraft programme was motivated by memories of air raids Iran suffered during its eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s, and by repeated threats from Israel and the US that “all options are on the table” in dealing with Iran.

He said: “We cannot rely on anyone but ourselves. Our resources are limited and we are committed to establishing security at a minimum cost.”

US sanctions targeting Iran’s shipping, finance and energy sectors are expected to come into force next week.

Tehran has repeatedly dismissed the US punitive measures by saying it would be still capable of managing its economy despite the pressure.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei slammed US President Donald Trump’s policy by saying that he “disgraced” US prestige.

The US has sold hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons to Iran’s rivals and says the reimposition of the crippling sanctions is a bid to force Tehran to end its military deployments and support for militias in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and elsewhere in the region.

Source » express