? Doc Walker: Driving With the Brakes On | Main | The latest from the dextrosphere ?

August 07, 2007

They are building a clone army


Or, rather, air force. Gateway Pundit observes Iran's recently announced Azarakhash "Lightning" jet (above) holds an uncanny similarity to their Saegheh "Thunder" jet (below) announced last September. As commenters to Rantburg note, Xerxes' descendants appear to have mastered a new manufacturing process using Photoshop. Note to Iran: your saber-rattling works best if you crib pictures of something with more oomph than an F-5, let alone pictures of the USAF flight demonstration team.

Slightly more serious is the possibility of two-hundred and fifty Su-30MKM Flankers and twenty Il-78MKI Midas aerial tankers supposedly on order from the Russians. Though even this prospect fails to impress comment at DefenseTech. Cynics there suggest a six billion dollar appropriation for sixty F-22s may have incentivised the story for the USAF and/or Lockheed Martin. The whole of the DefenseTech piece is worth a read particularly for discussion of "Cope India", a joint air combat exercise between the USAF and the Indian Air Force featuring Su-30s.*

The Su-30 is now flown by the air forces of China, India, Malaysia, Russia, and Vietnam. In February 2004, U.S. Air Force pilots flying the F-15C Eagle fought against Indian pilots in an exercise with several types of fighter aircraft participating, including the Su-30. The U.S. pilots lost the exercise, named "Cope India." However, the U.S. pilots did fight against odds of 3:1 and the F-15s did not use their AN/APG-63(V)2 electronically scanned array radars nor did they simulate using the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile. Still, the effectiveness of the Indian Su-30s did surprise many American observers.

* More on Cope India from Aviation Week & Space Technology. I believe it would be a mistake to write this incident off as a budget scare; particularly given my assumption the PLA air force would be as flexible as the Indians. Not to mention using rather more "grey market" tech than the IAF and asymmetric tactics disallowed in an exercise and, apparently, in the thinking of Western defense planners.

"The outcome of the exercise boils down to [the fact that] they ran tactics that were more advanced than we expected," Snowden says. "India had developed its own air tactics somewhat in a vacuum. They had done some training with the French that we knew about, but we did not expect them to be a very well-trained air force. That was silly.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at August 7, 2007 07:23 AM


It's my understanding that Cope India was more than just US vs India in form. Specifically, they ran Indian Air Force Jets with USAF AWACs aircraft in support and other combinations of USAF and IAF jets allied against other combinations. The point was to exchange ideas, work on tactics and build the military familiarity of the alliance. The AWACs brought a significant advantage to which ever side used it and iirc from my readings of the exercise, the IAF pilots LOVED having the E-3s on their side.

Posted by: Montieth [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2007 11:34 AM