Iran has a very strong Air Force despite limitations imposed on the country by the United States since the country's 1979 Islamic revolution, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed at a gathering of Air Force commanders and staff on Saturday, February 8.
"Since the revolution their aim was to stop us from having a strong air force ... but look at us now. We even build planes. We have transformed their pressure to opportunity," said Khamenei according to state news agency IRNA.
Khamenei’s claim however is not supported by facts. International and U.S. sanctions on top of relative diplomatic isolation have prevented Iran from maintaining a modern air force. Iran has a limited number of aging Vietnam-era American jets and older Soviet planes.
The inability to build a strong air force was the main reason Iran decided to seek ballistic missiles since the 1980s, to be able to have a long-range strike power in the region.
Iran is marking the 41th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, which toppled the U.S.-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. During the anniversary period every year, government officials try to highlight military achievements
The Islamic Republic has vowed to increase its military strength despite mounting pressure from Western countries to curtail its military capabilities, including its ballistic missile program.