Iran Unveils Updated Yasin Training Jet With Possible Close Combat Applications

The Yasin training jet, 11 March 2023.

The Yasin training jet, 11 March 2023.

“The Yasin will be able to be used… for close air support.”

In 2019 the Iranian military unveiled its new Yasin Training Jet [GRLCUT(1] to great fanfare. In March 2023, Iran announced the final prototype and Yasin production line, according to the excerpted article from the semi-official, pro-government Iranian Students’ News Agency. The latest variation of the training aircraft is said to include many upgrades, including new ejection seats, avionics, engine, and landing gear. An Iran-produced airborne weather radar has also been fitted into the Yasin. According to the article, since the end of the Iran-Iraq War, pilot training was put “on the agenda” of the Armed Forces, but Iran has continued to suffer from an aging fleet and untrained pilots.[i] The article suggests that pilot training is paramount in the development of the Yasin,[ii] but there is also speculation that Iran may fit the aircraft with weaponry, allowing it to become a low-cost, easy-to-operate, multi-role fighter with a focus on close air support. If Iran can produce the Yasin at scale, not only would it be a valuable training platform, but it could also be deployed to many of the conflict zones in which Iran has previously relied on drones for air support—namely Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. The introduction of the Yasin, or any Iranian manned aircraft, into any of these conflicts would risk escalating these proxy wars further.


“Ravanma-ye az Namuneh Ma’yar Tawlid-e Jet-e Amuzesh-e ‘Yasin’ (Unveiling of the Training Jet Prototype ‘Yasin’),” Iranian Students’ News Agency (semi-official student-run news agency that promotes the Iranian government’s line), 11 March 2023.

The Yasin’s training jet production prototype was unveiled in the presence of the Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, while the mass production line of this training jet was also inaugurated…. Pilot training is one of the most advanced and complex training regimens that any country can do. The Islamic Republic of Iran has succeeded in applying world-class education in the fields of science and technology, and training pilots is no exception.

After the end of the [Iran-Iraq] war, the necessity for pilot training was put on the agenda of the Armed Forces. From that time, with the input of veterans and professors, faculties for training pilots were created….

So, how does the Islamic Republic of Iran train pilots and what is the role of Yassin training jet?

The training of the fighter aircraft pilot is fundamentally different from the civilian pilot. For military pilots, training is done in three stages: First, basic training for learning flight basics. Second, training for flight skills, regulations and maneuver. And, third, advanced training for tactical flight ability with advanced fighters. An important feature of advanced training jets is that pilots from operational bases continue to exploit them, and pilots become familiar with air combat and ground combat tactics and techniques, and learn the use of various weapons. All of these advantages and features have been the reason for…the Ministry of Defense to design and build this aircraft.

Does the aircraft also have combat capability?

Since combat training is in many cases carried out with real weapons and in simulated battle environments, it is natural that Yasin jet has the capability to conduct combat missions as well. In the development plan, it will be able to be used as a light combat aircraft and for close air support.


[i] For background on efforts within Iran to re-equip its air force, see: Michael Rubin, “Iran-China Air Force Cooperation on Horizon?” OE Watch, December 2015. See also: Michael Rubin, “Iranian F-14 Crash Highlights Iran’s Need for New Fighter Contract,” OE Watch, August 2022.

[ii] While a potentially positive step for the Iranian Air Force, the Yasin is not the bridge trainer required for Iran’s recent purchase of the Su-35 multi-role fighters from Russia. The Su-35 is far too complex and would necessitate a more advanced trainer. It is more likely that Russian pilots will train Iranian pilots to fly the Su-35.

Image Information:

Image: The Yasin training jet, 11 March 2023.
Attribution: Iranian Students’ News Agency

Yemen’s Houthi Movement Continues To Recruit and Indoctrinate Child Combatants

Houthi logo on a house in Yafaa-Dhamar, Yemen (2013).

Houthi logo on a house in Yafaa-Dhamar, Yemen (2013).

“…Observers attribute the Houthis’ frantic race to recruit children to a need to cover huge losses on the fighting fronts…”

Yemen’s Ansarallah, a.k.a. the Houthis, have been indoctrinating child combatants with a militant anti-Western ideology for years.  According to the accompanying excerpt from the Emirati daily al-Ittihad, the Houthis have recruited more than 30,000 children to fight in Yemen’s ongoing conflict.  Ansarallah began as summer camps where children and adolescents, who were known as “Believing Youth,” were steeped in Zaydi religious doctrine, a Shiite offshoot prevalent in Yemen. They also learned to oppose stridently external involvement in their society’s affairs, particularly from the United States.  As the Houthis morphed into an armed rebel movement in the early 2000s, their summer camps evolved into a recruitment pool for committed foot soldiers. 

Although Ansarallah is now the de facto government of former North Yemen, it remains faithful to its roots as a network of youth training and indoctrination centers.  Since April, in the context of a nation-wide truce, the group vowed to stop sending children to the battlefield.  However, according to an expert cited by the Saudi-funded daily Independent Arabia, the Houthis have ramped up their recruitment activities this summer to make up for losses sustained in a failed attempt to take the city of Marib over the past year.  A variety of methods are used to get parents to send their children to the camps, including extensive nation-wide media campaigns, material incentives, and various forms of pressure and blackmail.  Lagging recruitment this summer, as noted in the accompanying article from the Saudi daily al-Sharq al-Awsat, has led Ansarallah to force government employees to send their children to the summer camps or risk losing their jobs.


”الحوثي” يواصل سياسة تجنيد الأطفال

(‘Houthis’ continue child recruitment policies),” al-Ittihad (Emirati daily), 2 June 2022.

Majed Al-Fadael, Undersecretary of the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights and a member of the Supervisory Committee for the Exchange of Prisoners and Abductees, told Al-Ittihad that although there are no accurate statistics on the number of child soldiers, estimates indicate that more than 30,000 children have been dragged into the fighting fronts by the Houthi militia.


”المراكز الصيفية” طعم حوثي لتجنيد الأطفال

(‘Summer Camps’: Houthi bait for recruiting children),” Independent Arabia (Saudi-funded daily), 18 June 2022. 

Observers attribute the Houthis’ frantic race to recruit children to a need to cover huge losses on the fighting fronts, especially during a nearly two-year battle to control the strategic city of Marib.


”الحوثيون يلزمون موظفيهم إحضار أبنائهم إلى معسكرات التجنيد والتعبئة

(Houthis force employees to bring their children to the recruitment and mobilization camps),” al-Sharq al-Awsat (influential Saudi daily), 20 June 2022.

Despite intimidation, incentives, and media campaigns in which mosques and dozens of radio and television stations participated, the Houthi militias failed to convince the majority of students’ parents in the occupied Yemeni capital to enroll their children in their sectarian “summer camps.” For this reason, they have resorted to forcing employees in government institutions and departments to bring their children to the camps.

Image Information:

Image:  Houthi logo on a house in Yafaa-Dhamar, Yemen (2013)
Source: Abdullah Sarhan,
Attribution: CC 4.0

UAV Technologies Proliferating in Yemen and Saudi Arabia

Wing Loong II side view, Dubai Air Show 2017.

Wing Loong II side view, Dubai Air Show 2017.

“…The plane belonged to the Saudi Air Force and was violating the armistice and carrying out hostile acts in the airspace of the capital, Sana’a…”

Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and counter-UAV technologies appear poised to continue proliferating and evolving in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.  The accompanying articles shed light on their use in this corner of the Arabian Peninsula.  In a span of four days in late May, Yemeni military sources claimed Houthi-led military forces in Yemen used “locally made” surface-to-air missiles to shoot down three UAVs belonging to the Saudi military.  The three UAVs were a Vestel Karayel [RG1] surveillance drone, a CAIG Wing Loong II [RG2] UCAV, and a CASC Rainbow CH-4 [RG3] UCAV.  The claims appear credible, although the only evidence presented were wreckage videos.  Yemeni forces did not specify how the drones were shot down beyond speaking vaguely of domestically manufactured systems.  Yemeni forces possess Russian/Soviet air-to-air missiles that they inherited from the Yemeni military stockpiles and modified to function as surface-to-air missiles.  They also operate Iranian air defense missiles smuggled into Yemen, most notably the “358” loitering air defense missile.  Saudi Arabia is seeking to produce UAVs and other advanced military equipment domestically and has signed co-production agreements with the makers of Turkish Karayels and Chinese CH-4s. 

Saudi Arabia has also recently entered into a joint venture with the China Electronics Technology Group to develop drones and counter-drone systems.  The latest incidents add to a growing list of over two dozen UAVs that Saudi Arabia has lost on the Yemeni battlefield, including over a dozen CH-4s and a handful of Karayels.  According to the accompanying excerpt from the Turkish daily Hurriyet, Saudi Arabia is thought to be in the process of purchasing Turkish Bayraktar TB-2 UAVs, perhaps in response to the underperformance of these other platforms.


@army21ye (Yemeni military spokesman Twitter account), 21 May 2022.

By God’s grace, this morning our air defenses were able to shoot down an armed spy plane, of the Turkish-made Karayel type, belonging to the Saudi Air Force. The plane was violating the armistice and carrying out hostile missions in the airspace of the Hiran region of Hajjah governorate. It was targeted by a homemade surface-to-air missile, which has not been made public yet.

Source: @army21ye (Yemeni military spokesman Twitter account), 23 May 2022.

Moments ago, our air defenses were able, thanks to God, to shoot down a Chinese-made armed CH4 spy plane using a locally made surface-to-air missile. The plane belonged to the Saudi Air Force and was violating the armistice and carrying out hostile acts in the airspace of the capital, Sana’a.

Source:  @army21ye (Yemeni military spokesman Twitter account), 24 May 2022,

The armed spy plane shot down by our air defenses at dawn today on the border front was a Chinese-made Wing Loong 2. It was targeted while violating the armistice and carrying out hostile actions in the skies of the Kitaf Directorate, along the border.

Source:  “Saudi Arabia to buy Bayraktar drones: Report,” Hurriyet (Turkish daily), 23 May 2022.

“The Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) has expressed interest in Turkish drones and is ready for talks with the producing company, Baykar,” Lebanon-based Tactical Report wrote on May 22.

Image Information:

Image:  Wing Loong II side view, Dubai Air Show 2017.
Source: Photo by Mztourist via Wikimedia Commons,
Attribution: CC 4.0 (

Yemen’s Houthis Employ Iranian “358” Loitering Anti-Aircraft Missile

One of the five, near-fully assembled uniquely Iranian-designed and manufactured Three-Five-Eight surface-to-air missiles that were a part of the shipment seized by the USS FORREST SHERMAN in November (2019).

One of the five, near-fully assembled uniquely Iranian-designed and manufactured Three-Five-Eight surface-to-air missiles that were a part of the shipment seized by the USS FORREST SHERMAN in November (2019).

“… It seems that Iran has transferred this type of missile to its allies in Yemen to test it against the American planes owned by the Saudi and Emirati air forces participating in the war…”

The Iranian “358” missile appears to be an increasingly important weapon for Yemen’s Houthi-led military forces.  The 358 missile is classified as surface-to-air, but in early January, it was seemingly used as a surface-to-surface missile to target the provincial leader of the pro-secessionist Southern Transitional Council (STC) in Shabwah Province.  On 14 January, a 358 was used to shoot down a Chinese-manufactured Wing Loong II unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) belonging to the Saudi-led coalition, according to several open-source analysts on Twitter.  It is unclear how many of these missiles are in Houthi possession.  Since 2019, several of them have been seized from Yemen-bound vessels in the Arabian Sea.  A 358 was also found in Iraq last October. 

According to an October 2021 article from the prominent Yemeni news website al-Masdar Online, the 358is a key Iranian weapon developed to counter U.S. aircraft, particularly UAVs.  The missile ships in three parts and once assembled can be launched from mobile positions, such as small trucks.  It does poorly against fast-moving targets but can be effective against helicopters and some UAVs.  The article from al-Masdar Online implies that it may be the Houthi-led military forces’ most effective air defense missile, potentially having been used to bring down a variety of aircraft, including an Apache helicopter, Wing Loong UAVs, Scan Eagle and RQ-20 UAVs manufactured by the United States, and the Karayel UAV manufactured by Turkey.  This sentiment is echoed by analysis from the Egyptian think tank Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies, which considers the 358’s presence in Yemen and Iraq as indicative of “a new shift in Tehran’s strategy in using its proxies in the region,” one which puts new emphasis on defending against aerial attacks.


@3Mr_o_o (pro-Houthi, Iraq-based “Observer of political and military affairs”), Twitter, 3 January 2022.


The mercenary Ali al-Jabwani, head of the Transitional Council in Shabwa governorate, survived an attack in the Usaylan area yesterday. The images released from the attack show a missile similar to the famous 358 missile.

Source: @AlgerianAircra1 (Algeria-focused “Aircraft Tracker” account interested in “Aircraft News and Novelties related to Defense and Aviation”), Twitter, 14 January 2022.

It appears that the Houthis in Yemen have shot down another Wing Loong II UCAF aircraft from the Saudi coalition. Judging by the video, it seems that an Iranian missile known as the 358 was used – a large, relatively slow missile with large wings.


“من “صلاح الدين” العراقية الى “مارب” اليمنية.. صواريخ دفاع جوي إيرانية بأيدي مليشيات طهران

(From Iraq’s Salahuddin to Yemen’s Marib… Iranian Air Defense Missiles in the Hands of Tehran’s Militias),” al-Masdar Online (prominent Yemeni news website), 24 October 2021.

But the situation has changed significantly since mid-2019, when the Houthi militia announced in June that its air defenses had managed to shoot down a U.S.-made MQ9 drone in Hodeidah Governorate, using a “domestically developed” missile. In August of the same year, the militia’s military spokesman said: “We have the ability to neutralize a large number of enemy aircraft.”… It seems that Iran has transferred this type of missile to its allies in Yemen to test it against the American planes owned by the Saudi and Emirati air forces participating in the war. Iran considers this missile as its armor against American aircraft…


“تهديد الأجواء.. ما وراء حائط الصواريخ الإيراني في الشرق الأوسط

(Threat to the skies… Behind the Iranian missile wall in the Middle East),” Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies (Egyptian think tank), 2 November 2021.

The unique design of this missile, and its subsequent reappearance in other regions in the Middle East, was an indication that it might be the main player in all the shootdowns that have taken place in Yemen recently, such as the downing of a “Scan Eagle” drone last June, in Serwah District, Marib Governorate … In sum, the appearance of the “358” missile in Iraq, and before that in Yemen (and it may have been used recently in Syria), indicates a new shift in Tehran’s strategy in using its proxies in the region. This strategy now includes air defense, after it was previously limited to missile power, and then drones.

Image Information:

Image: One of the five, near-fully assembled uniquely Iranian-designed and manufactured Three-Five-Eight surface-to-air missiles that were a part of the shipment seized by the USS FORREST SHERMAN in November (2019).
Source: CENCTCOM, Steve McLeod,
Attribution: Public Domain