In what's become something of a miniature trend these last couple of weeks, Iran has formally announced a technologically-advanced development only to have the veracity of its declaration questioned.
On Saturday, the country revealed a domestically-built stealth fighter jet. Here are some of the things it had to say about the plane:
The jet is a "significant achievement in the field of aerospace technology."
The plane "carries the message of brotherhood, peace, and security and it doesn't pose any threat to anyone. There is no intention to interfere in any other country's affairs."
"We should set higher targets," he said. "We see that it is possible. We have the capabilities."
Could a higher target be... actually creating a domestically-built stealth fighter jet? Could the lack of a threat to anyone be because... it's not real?
Many experts are heavily leaning in that direction, noting that it's possible Iran was just showing off a mock-up of the jet and hoping to pass it off as the real deal.
The claims seem kind of crazy at first, but one look at the product shown in Iran's news video (included below) is all you need to see to be skeptical. I don't know much about plane construction, but the only thing that plane looks like it could fall apart at any moment. The Israeli newspaper Maariv (courtesy of the Atlantic) points out the same thing:
"It's not a plane, because that's not how a real plane looks. Iran doesn't have the ability to build planes. Plain and simple."
Iran's "ability" is hampered by the fact that the country is under an international arms embargo, making plane material difficult to obtain even for maintaining its current forces.
If "it doesn't even look like a freakin' plane" isn't a convincing enough argument for you, aviation journalist David Cenciotti has a more in-depth breakdown at his site, the Aviationist. For one thing, the cockpit and air intakes are too small, and there are no nozzles over the engine section, meaning that if the thing could fly, the engine afterburners would melt the entire jet.
"But wait!" you say. "There was video footage of the plane flying!"
Cenciotti says that's just a remote-controlled scale model, pointing out that Iran never shows the plane taking off or landing.
Seriously, Iran. Get your act together. The whole space monkey thing was bad enough, but cardboard model airplanes? Keep these shenanigans up and no one will consider you an existential threat anymore.