A veteran Iranian fighter jet pilot says sanctions on the country are the main reason for the high number of military aviation accidents and casualties among air force pilots. 

Brigadier General Kioumars Heidarian, a retired pilot who underwent training in the US state of Texas and flew fighter jets for Iran’s air force both before and after the 1979 revolution, told ISNA on Saturday that if Iran could procure better aircraft equipment, it could reduce the number the accidents.

“Accidents happen everywhere, and no one in the world has managed to decrease the number of accidents to zero, but if the equipment is complete, it is natural that the number of accidents will be fewer,” he said.

The veteran pilot added that the situation would have been much better if new fighters replaced the current dilapidated fleet, noting that “parts are made both domestically and imported from countries such as Russia and China, but the main problem is international sanctions against our country.”

Last week, an F-7 fighter jet of the Iranian Air Force crashed near the central city of Esfahan, killing both of the aircraft’s pilots, and in February, two other pilots were killed when an Iranian F-5 fighter jet crashed into a soccer stadium in the northwest city of Tabriz.

In June 2021, two Air Force pilots were killed at Dezful air base in the southern province of Khuzestan due to the sudden glitch in their ejection seats while preparing the plane before the flight.

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