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Iran's Military Releases New Video of Stealth Fighter Jet, But Can it Fly?

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Iranian defense industry leaders revealed the long-awaited F-313 Qaher fifth-generation stealth fighter jet in action, April 15, 2017. Some Western observers, however, have questioned whether the aircraft was capable of flight yet. Irib News Agency/Social Media

Iran showcased its first ever domestically-manufactured stealth fighter jet Monday, but a number of critics in the West have called the aircraft a hoax.

Iran's Qaher F-313 jet was presented by leaders of the nation's defense industry at a ceremony attended by top government officials near the Meherabad Air Base, United Press International reported. Days earlier, Iran's Irib News Agency released footage showing the aircraft making its hardware debut. In the video, the Qaher F-313 performed a taxi test, but did not take off, leading some to speculate as to whether the supposedly high-tech warplane was capable of flight yet.

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The Qaher, which means "Conqueror," was first unveiled in February 2013 during a ceremony marking the 34th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought the current Iranian government into power. The fifth-generation jet was hailed by leaders at the time as a breakthrough for the nation's military, which both Western and Gulf Arab nations have long considered a regional threat.

Western observers, however, noted inconsistencies in the plane's design including apparent errors in cockpit size and the absence of a nozzle for the engine, according to The National InterestThe irregularities caused a number of critics to consider the 2013 model a simple prop.

Saturday's footage showed a different jet than the one previously seen in 2013 and one that was at least capable of being operated on the ground. The black-painted Qaher was approximately 45-feet long with a 17-feet wingspan and large downturned wingtips. The twin-engined jet also bore traditional features of stealth fighters such as facets and edge alignment, according to an article published Friday by Aviation International News. The report said the Qaher seen Saturday may have been radio-controlled or a subscale mockup of the actual design.

Criticism from abroad has not deterred Iran from boasting of its military accomplishments. At Monday's ceremony, the likes of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan showed up to praise the Qaher, which could be used for short-range aerial support missions and carrying various natively-produced missiles, according to Iran's Tasnim News Agency. Rouhani said the aircraft, along with the weapons Iran planned to fit it with, were proof that Iran would not be intimidated by foreign powers seeking to limit its military capabilities.

"We don't ask for permission from others to reinforce our armed forces, don't ask for permission to manufacture our missiles, our jets," Rouhani said, according to Defense News.