Iran appoints former fighter pilot as new air force commander
Iran's top leader has appointed a pilot of Russian fighter jets to command the nation's air force, state television reported on Sunday.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei formally selected Air Force Brigadier General Hamid Vahedi.
Vahedi, 56, trained on a simulator for a Sukhoi-24, a Russian fighter jet, from 2000 to 2001. He worked as the acting commander of the air force since 2018. As commander, Vahedi succeeds F-14 Tomcat pilot General Aziz Nasirzadeh.
The decision issued by Khamenei highlighted the importance of keeping Tehran's air force, which has both Russian and American-made made jet fighters, prepared to deal with risks that may be faced.
The Supreme Leader said he wanted to boost the nation's aerial capacities and build a "science-based Air Force" that would equal "the prestige of the Islamic system".
This is an apparent reference to the nation's theocratic governmental structure, according to IRNA's characterisation.
Sunday's change came as part of routine replacement of army commanders.
Khamenei expressed gratitude for "the precious services" of Vahedi's predecessor, Aziz Nasirzadeh, asking God to bring the country's military good fortune.
For his part, Nasirzadeh was given the second-from-top job in Tehran's military, according to Iran International.
The previous deputy chief of the general staff, Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, was made the new government's minister of defence in recent weeks.
This latest news comes after Khamenei in August promoted Shahram Irani to the most senior role in the navy, making him the first Sunni Muslim senior commander in the Islamic Republic's history.