Three people died in the crash of an Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force Northrop F-5 fighter jet. 

The aircraft crashed around 9 a.m. IRST (5:30 GMT) on February 21, 2022, in an urban area in Tabriz, north-western Iran. Multiple reports suggest the aircraft impacted a stadium near a school, which was closed at the time. 

According to Al Jazeera, both pilots perished in the event. The third victim was a civilian, who died in a vehicle parked nearby. 

Iranian news agency Tasnim reports that the pilots did not eject on purpose, and directed the falling aircraft into a stadium in an attempt to prevent casualties. 

The aircraft was a two-seat training variant of Northrop F-5E, delivered to the Imperial Iranian Air Force in the 1970s. 

Iran’s Air Force operates numerous variants of Grumman F-14 Tomcat, McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II and Northrop F-5. It also possesses small numbers of Russian-built MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-24as well as Chinese Chengdu J-7 and ex-Iraqi Mirage F-1. 

In an attempt to modernize the air force, Iran has been building reverse-engineered F-5s named HESA Saeqeh. Despite these efforts, most of its aircraft predate Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979. 

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An F-5 fighter plane used for training by the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) crashed on August 26, 2018, in the southwest of Iran. The pilot was killed instantly, while his co-pilot survived the crash. Iran has been struggling with its fighter fleet for years because of American sanctions, with more or less successful programs.