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Bizarre story of the day on a Flight International blog:-
Just when we thought that Iran couldn't do anything else crazy linked to its aged fleet of Northrop F-5 fighters (following its foray into developing the V-tailed "Saegeh" version), a newly published image has raised many eyebrows here on Flightglobal.
Hosted on the Airliners.net site, the picture shows a modified Tupolev Tu-154M, formerly flown by Iran Air Tours, with an F-5 cockpit section now grafted onto the front-top of its vertical stabiliser. Image supplier "Iranian Spotters" describes the combo as intended to support tests of an Iranian-made ejection seat, and says the same aircraft will also carry out future work carrying indigenous unmanned air vehicles.
From another website: (No mention of ejector seats)
On Aug. 21, the first avionics and radar testbed for what it’s thought to be the Saeqeh V fighter jet, made a sudden appearance on the images taken during the presentation of six types of new military equipment held in Tehran.
In fact, according to FARS, the aircraft was showcased during a presentation that included the fourth generation of Fateh 110 missile, Bonian 4 marine engine, Armita space test laboratory, Aras tactical vehicle, Vafa mortar-launcher, and Shahed navigation system.
The front section of the new fighter (an advanced version of the Saeqeh, a modified F-5 with Hornet-like tails) is attached to the tail of a Tu-154 testbed that will be used for high speed tests.
Although we don’t know anything of this “new” aircraft, the military significance of this alleged next generation plane is at least questionable. However, this experimental plane shows that the Iranian aerospace industry is quite active, not only on UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) technologies.
That would be a shame, my friend, 500N. I could say that a sensible nation that was resourcing a proper bang seat reasearch programme would do even more testing and engineering before the first trails. But this is a nation who are happy to do the most audatious engineering jobs - you have to admire them for that.
My guess is that, without a lot of internal structural work, the first bang will put a huge moment on the front of the fin and rear fuselage. The resulting, gaping hole will create some interesting aerodymic characteristics and, if that doesn't do it, any subsequent tests will simply compound the damage. If they do some ground tests first, the damage will be there already.
I hope they put the trial videos on You Tube.
Last edited by Courtney Mil; 28th Aug 2012 at 20:40.
Give it a set of rotor blades, a ramp, a smoke generator and hang some weapons under the horizontal stabiliser. They could sell it to the UK as "an entire air force in one airframe". The beancounters would jump at it!
Last edited by Easy Street; 28th Aug 2012 at 21:28.
I wonder if they added some ballast forward of the CG to compensate for the weight. Likewise, I wonder if they beefed up the tail section to accomodate some of the odd loads the vertical stab might see when the plane turns.
Interesting idea for a test bed, if they've thought through some of the engineering bits.
Don't let O'Leary see that. Imagine how much he could charge for an upgrade to the first class seat.
I too have visions of the F5+tailpane departing company from the Tu154 the first time they do a live ejection. I know Tupolevs are built like Brunel's bridges but surely it's not stressed for this kind of thing.
Interesting - look closely at the cockpit; it looks to me that the "bullet" atop the Tu-154's fin is actually protruding into the rear of it. Also, there is a small lump on the upper nose of the cockpit - wonder what that's for? The Iranians have long been known for some clever reverse engineering and also for even cleverer bluffing....