Warplanes: Iranian Simulation

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June 12,2008: Iranian engineers have created a computer simulator for its F-4 fighter pilots. Iran bought 225 F-4 Phantom jets in the 1970s, and several dozen are still operational. Spare parts are obtained via a smuggling network, with some of the less complex parts manufactured inside Iran.

Of the 5,195 F-4s manufactured, some 5-10 percent are still in service. It's a 1950s design that, for its day, was quite advanced. The two seat, 28 ton aircraft is still a credible fighter bomber, able to carry eight tons of bombs and missiles. Normal combat radius is about 700 kilometers. The average sortie lasts about two hours.

Given the shortage of spare parts, the Iranians want to keep their remaining F-4s on the ground as much as possible. Moreover, a lack of refineries means Iran has to import most of its aviation fuel. Thus the need for simulators.

The Iranian F-4 simulator cost about a million dollars to develop and build, but few details were provided. It probably used a lot of off-the-shelf hardware and software. With that approach, and an F-4 cockpit wired into a PC running the whole thing, you could create a credible simulator. Large screen flat panel displays and high end video cards can provide a reasonable approximation of the dome type displays used in high end Western simulators (which go for $40 million and up.)

However, the Iranians often over-hype their local military equipment developments. This is done to reassure Iranians that, despite three decades of arms embargo, the religious dictatorship was still able to defend the nation.

 


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