TEHRAN, Iran — Iran showcased its domestically made fighter jets by flying the aircraft over Tehran during a military parade Thursday marking National Army Day as the country grapples with U.S. sanctions and the Trump administration’s recent terrorism designation of Iran’s powerful paramilitary force.
TV footage showed the aircraft performing during the parade, including the latest all-Iranian fighter jet dubbed Kowsar, which in Islamic meaning refers to a river in paradise and is also the title of a chapter in the Muslim holy book, the Quran.
The Islamic Republic often announces military achievements that cannot be independently verified to boost patriotism. The United States re-imposed sanctions on Iran, including on its energy sector, last November, after President Donald Trump pulled out of the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
It remains unclear how the bill’s passage in parliament would affect the Republican Guard’s activities in the Persian Gulf, where the U.S. Navy has in the past accused Iranian patrol boats of harassing American warships.
The twin-seated Kowsar — modeled after American F-5 fighter jet — was inaugurated in 2018, when the TV aired images of President Hassan Rouhani briefly sitting in the plane’s cockpit inside a hangar before the ceremony.
The parade also showcased the Saegheh, or “Thunderbolt,” another domestically built fighter in Iran’s air force, which already has U.S.-made F-4, F-5 as well as F-14 fighter jets and also Russian-made Sukhoi aircraft in service.
During Thursday's event, the air force also paraded Iranian battlefield personnel carriers, machine guns, tanks, transport vehicles and Iranian-made Talash as well as Russian-made S-300 missile systems.
Rouhani reviewed the parade, flanked by several Revolutionary Guard commanders, and offered praise for both the army and the guard forces.
"The Army has always been beside the Iranian nation and the Islamic Revolution, making sacrifice to secure our territorial integrity and ensure Iran's independence," Rouhani also said.
The U.S. terrorism designation for Iran's Revolutionary Guard formally took effect on Monday — a move meant to increase pressure on Iran, isolate it further and prompt authorities to divert some of the financial resources Tehran uses to fund militant activity in the Middle East and beyond.
It prompted Iranian lawmakers a day later to overwhelmingly approve a bill labeling U.S. forces in the Middle East as terrorist and labeling America a "supporter of terrorism."
The guard’s designation — the first-ever for an entire division of another government — adds another layer of sanctions to the powerful paramilitary force and makes it a crime under U.S. jurisdiction to provide it with material support.