An embassy security guard asks for help minutes after the explosion.
An embassy security guard asking for help just minutes after a suicide bomber has detonated an explosive device at the entrance of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, February 1, 2013. Photo by AP
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The U.S. flag at the embassy flies at half-staff a day after a suicide bomber attack, in Ankara, Turkey, February 2, 2013. Photo by AP

Iran continues to present unique technological achievements as part of its Ten Days of Dawn, a series of events marking the anniversary of the Islamic revolution in 1979.

One of the celebration’s main messages this year is Iran’s self-reliance, resources and capabilities. Last week it was the monkey who was supposedly launched into space and then returned to earth. It has since transpired that not only was this little more than a PR stunt but, according to The Times newspaper, a comparison of the different photographs published by the Iranians proves that there were at least two different monkeys in on the act. This indicates that even if there was a space launch, the astronaut failed to come back in one piece.

Yesterday Iran heralded a new scientific milestone, the Qaher 313 − a stealth bomber, no less − which, according to the breathless Iranian reporters, is capable of carrying out low-level attacks while evading enemy radar.

A stealth fighter is without doubt an impressive technical feat. The United States invested decades of development in the development of the F-22 and ceased production of the plane early due to its high cost. The next U.S. stealth bomber about to enter operational service, the F-35, is bedeviled with technical problems and its price is sky-rocketing faster than the plane.

The Russians and Chinese are both working on stealth fighters but are still at the prototype stage. Iran has now joined the superpowers club. At first sight, the Qaher 313 does look like a fighter with stealth capabilities and is externally similar to the F-22 and F-35. A closer look at the example presented to the regime’s leaders, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi, looks like little more than a glorified mock-up that seems to have been built with leftover props from a cheap science-fiction flick.

Since the Iranian media broadcast the first pictures yesterday, aviation and military online forums have been debating the aerodynamic failures of the plane. It seems that it will probably never take off, let alone make it into aerial combat. The list of the plane’s design flaws is long and varied, so we will mention just a few.

The inlets which are supposed to supply air to the jet engine are too small and situated in a position which will not ingest enough air at some angles. The engine doesn’t even have a nozzle from which it powers the aircraft. The cockpit is too small ‏(the pilot “modeling” the plane barely managed to get his legs and torso inside‏) and its instruments seem to have been taken from a much less advanced aircraft.

The forward “canard” winglets, which are supposed to improve control, are fixed without any maneuverability. The blurry video published by the Iranians purporting to show the Qaher 313 in flight seems to show not a manned fighter jet but a small radio-operated drone.

The Qaher 313 won’t cause any panic in the Israeli Air Force’s intelligence wing, or at any other serious intelligence organization
.
The only serious question raised by the new “plane” − which almost certainly never appeared on an aeronautical engineer’s drawing table but doubtless took thousands of Propaganda Ministry man-hours to construct − is who are the Iranians trying to kid? Do they think anyone in the west or their rivals in the Middle East are stupid enough to swallow this?

It seems more likely that they are trying to impress their own people, whose financial suffering from the international sanctions is worsening by the day, with yet another glorious achievement of the Islamic revolution.