Iranian F-14 Tomcat fighter jets get a modern “splinter” color scheme

Sep 04 2013 - 51 Comments

The photo in this post depicts the first Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force F-14AM (“Modernized”) landing at Tehran Mehrabad International Airport in April 2012.

Iran still operates some Tomcats that are being modernized to extend their operative life. Domestic upgrades include avionics, weapons (R-73E, AIM-54A+ “Fakkur”, AIM-54A, AIM-7E and AIM-9J are among the air to air missiles adapted to the aircraft’s fire control system) and color scheme: indeed the plane was give a  three-tone Asian Minor II camouflage pattern resembling the one adopted by Russian 4th and 5th generation fighter planes and U.S. Aggressors.

Image credit: Babak Taghvaee

 

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  • CO2VA

    It’s still a very mean looking aircraft

  • Stormtrooper

    How ironic……our sworn enemies flying the F-14…..priceless!

    • Jason Pope

      We sold it to them back in the 1980s when we wanted them as a Ally

      • OG_Locc

        No. In the 70′s, when they *were* an ally. One of our best in the region at the time.

        • FoilHatWearer

          Another product of Jimmy Carter’s brilliant foreign policy.

          • Paul Woodman

            Nixon was the pres when these were first sold to Iran. Jimmy may be responsible for leaving the shah to his devices but not for selling f-14′s. But why Tomcats? Wasn’t there a ground based fighter that could have been better suited? I imagine the Shah got the hottest new bird in our inventory.I’d like to see a dogfight scenario between Tomcats & Lightning’s.

            • ask2wice

              The Shah DID see a flyoff between the F-15 and F-14. F-15 went first, and while it was doing its’ flight display the Grumman test pilot started his engines in the run-up area to burn off fuel so that when it came time for him to fly the under-powered F-14 it was carrying a lighter fuel load and he flew a SPECTACULAR demonstration. Pretty smart!

              Besides – the Shah probably had already made up his mind in favor of the F-14 over F-15 even before the demo because he wanted Phoenix to be able to chase off high-flying, often-intruding Soviet MIG-25s. As it turned out, one sniff of the F-14′s AWG-9 radar and the MIGs would turn North and quickly run away! The Soviets dared not lose one of their aircraft over Iranian airspace. Having F-14 on guard sent that message to them LOUD AND CLEAR. The overflights stopped!

            • D. Schwartz

              Well the US sold them F-4s as well for the air to air and air to ground mission. These were used in some small middle east conflicts of the 70′s when Iran was considered an friendly regional power.

      • Larry

        Jason, 70′s, Shah era! Before ’79 and the ayatollah.

    • phuzz

      To be fair, pretty much every enemy of the US over the last 15 years has been a country or person that was aided by the US about 20 years before that.

    • John Smith

      We make a lot of enemies, often deservedly so. It ain’t easy not to when you appoint yourself “World Police.”

  • CinCin

    Wow.

  • Chiefy707

    Very interested in what avionics and systems changes Iran has made. Especially in the engines.

  • ask2wice

    So Iran keeps the F-14 flying while the U.S. Navy goes and does the stupid thing and replaces it with the far less capable (to an upgraded F-14) F/A-18E/F? Which they now want to modernize … oh, if they can’t afford to purchase F-35s, that single-engine mistake that should never have been forced down the Navy’s probably hoarse throat (or perhaps agreed to by weak-kneed Pentagon paper-pushing Admirals)? Simply AMAZING!!!

    The USN should have taken the F-14, re-engined with 2-30,000 lb thrust [class] super cruise engines, added canards, fly-by-wire, AESA, IRST, cantilevered vertical stabs (aka; Silent eagle), a stealth weapons pod attached to the belly, added fuel tanks down the mid upper-center line … plus modernized ECM … and what they would have had was a world-class fighter-bomber/interceptor WITH LEGS that could have attacked any point on the globe (just about) while the carrier stayed far out to sea and out of ever-increasing zones of danger! And it would have probably performed better and cost less than the “jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none” semi-stealth F-35 – an aircraft that does NOT belong on a carrier! You’d have thought after the F-111 debacle that Congress would have learned something. Never …

    • Chiefy707

      You have to wonder how the entire Tomcat program would have panned out if it were more of an export success, if it got better funding throughout its life, if the Marines used it, and especially if its air to ground capability were put to use from the outset.

      Still my favorite jet and glad that at least it went out with a loud impressive bang Rushed psuedo develoopment as a strike fighter and ended up being more capable than the Strike Eagle.

    • FoilHatWearer

      The problem with the F-14 is that they just ran out of airframe hours. Every jet has a finite life and the F-14 hit that number of flight hours. (I know, everybody is going to say, “But the B-52 is lasting 50 years plus.” But the B-52 isn’t out going Mach 2 and pulling 9g.)

      The last F-14 was delivered in 1992. That was a mistake, production should’ve continued.

      • ask2wice

        They kept producing and updating the F-15, which first flew at about the same time (aprox. ’69/’70). They should have done the same with the F-14. My thought being – let these new drones (which they should have known were coming) go in to take out enemy air defenses, then let the F-14s come in from a distance to either launch standoff weapons or barrel on in to enemy airspace supported by drones, Prowler or Growler, and internal ECM support systems. A/C Carrier stays far away and safe – enemy gets a heck of a spanking by an aircraft, the F-14, which has a large payload capacity and could fight it’s way in and out!

        … and this could have been done at far less the cost of producing Navy F-35s or the totally redesigned F/A-18 E/F. F-35 being way too expensive an aircraft – way too vulnerable for carrier operations given it’s single-engine configuration – and F/A-18E/F being inferior to what could have been a new and better Tomcat. Guess Grumman couldn’t play politics as well as its’ competitors. Or Dick Cheney just didn’t like them!

        On a little bit of a different note – - – With drone technology on the way in, the USN needs to rethink aircraft procurement and carrier aircraft fit-out. Now that the F-14 is gone, buy fewer F-35s and have the Carrier Air Group consist of drones, F/A-18 E/F, Growler and a fewer F-35s. This would enable drone/F-35 deep penetration for high-value targets (air defenses) at the beginning of an air campaign. Of course once air superiority is established, there is much less of a need for stealth capability and the F-18s could then go in and pound away with precision attack weapons. And the COST SAVINGS of having fewer F-35s would be tremendous!

        By the way – with drones you could fit more aircraft on a carrier, and maybe then there would be less of a need for maintaining 11 of those costly, vulnerable, too-big-to-lose (or like banks~ too-big-to-fail) behemoths! Soon one carrier may be able to do the work of two given drone technology and precision strike weapons – many of which can be fired from other platforms. And they could be standoff weapons! Lots of little guys out there have very dangerous diesel-electric submarines that pose a great danger to the CVN and its’ Task Force.

        Oh if only the Navy could think/have its way and the defense establishment could be reigned in from all of these way-too-expensive programs. Probably won’t ever happen – unless and until the U.S. goes BANKRUPT!

        • Robert

          The only problem with that scenario is that the Russian’s advanced anti-ship missiles like Yakhont may have made carriers obsolete. The Navy admits there is no defense against Yakhont as it has a range of almost two hundred miles travels at mach 2.5 and doesn’t miss. It’s like an Excocet on steroids; http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/missile/row/ss-n-26.htm
          We have nothing even close in our arsenal of anti-ship weapons.

          • HairTeethAndEyeBalls

            My only question here is: Is this just another “great premise” that the Russians trot out(like all those bad-ass, vectored thrust, super-maneuverable, airshow jets they have) that never really makes it to front-line service because of prohibitive cost and/or no export customers to fund them?

            • FoilHatWearer

              The Cobra maneuver is really cool until an F-15 or F-16 gives them an AMRAAM where the sun doesn’t shine (like in Bosnia).

          • HG Bellow

            I always like when there is a anti carrier missile everyone says there is no need for carriers. Well a $75K AIM-9X can shoot down drones and fighters, does that make them obsolete?

            And if it wasn’t for carriers the opening stages of war in Afghanistan would have been a year away, vice a month.

        • FrankW

          Most Tomcats were built before 1985, that was a long time ago. The plane is just old, and VG is obsolete. VG has not been used in a fighter design since the early 1970′s; it is obsolete as far as fighter aerodynamics are concerned. The plane has a giant RCS thanks to its large intakes and visible engine fan blades. The F-14 needed to be retired, but its replacement (F/A-18E) is a joke. What the navy needs is a modern twin engine LO fighter, not outdated F-14s, F-18s, or the underwhelming F-35C. Maybe a naval version of the F-22 Raptor with uprated engines would have worked. But to keep insisting that a plane designed in the late 1960′s would still be viable in today’s modern battlefield is just ridiculous.

        • FoilHatWearer

          They’re still putting out new Strike Eagles. The F-16 is still in production but Lockheed (formerly Gen. Dynamics) won’t sell them to us. The F-22/F-35 lobby is very strong.

      • jimmbbo

        Also, the B52 has had dozens of mods/fixes/updates to allow it to keep on truckin’… Besides… it’s PAID FOR ;)

        • Capt. Maverick

          B-52′s don’t do a lot of fly-by on the air tower or 1v1 against Viper.

      • Michael J

        The F-14Ds were still fairly new when they were moth-balled. The program was canceled to save money or at least that is the excuse given by Cheney when he was Secretary of Defense.

        • HairTeethAndEyeBalls

          A lot of those “Ds(the bulk of them to be precise)” were “remans” to begin with so they already had hours before they became “Ds.”

      • HairTeethAndEyeBalls

        True. The Iranian Toms don’t have any sea-air corrosion issues to deal with either! Another jet that was waaaayyy ahead of it’s time(aka engines)!

    • Robert

      I believe all or most of those upgrades were accomplished by the Russians as the Iranians could not afford SU-27/30 aircraft. So they made a deal with the Russians to upgrade.
      With the exception of the engines (2-33,000 lb/thrust instead of 30,000 you recommended) all the avionics and weapons have been brought up to world class standards. The F-14 airframe is an exceptional platform and will give many more years of service, to Iran unfortunately.

      The Luftwaffe did the same deal with Russia on all those MIG-29s that were left in E.Germany after the Soviet Union imploded. All new avionics except the new stuff was German/NATO spec as were weapons and avionics replacing the old Russian gear.
      The US was really pissed about that one as they had all but signed the deal with Germany/NATO for a new load of F-16s to replace their aging and outdated F105s.
      Germany’s contribution to the 78 day Kosovo fiasco was that their MIGs were downed on a number of occasions. I wonder how many may have been friendly fire?

      • Sia

        You don’t know what you talking about. There were no Russians involved in keeping these birds flying! It was all Iranian technicians,

        • John Smith

          Or maybe you just weren’t told by your govt.

    • HG Bellow

      But having to invest 23 hours of maintenance to fly 1 hour, just didn’t make sense. The F-14 was good, but it’s time was up.

      What Boeing should have done was put the F-14D’s GE F110 engines into a bigger F/A-18. Whoa!

  • FoilHatWearer

    This paint scheme does not look new. I swear I’ve seen lots of past pictures with this paint scheme (unless I’ve seen a lot of F-5s with it and this is the first F-14).

  • KFZ

    A tribute to the Iranians resourcefulness that they have kept such an elderly aircraft flying. Cant imagine after sales service is so hot.

    • Robert

      The Russians have upgraded the Iranian TomCats with the latest of their stuff.

    • Robert

      It has got to be better than the US was giving them LOL!

  • just add red stars

    well, thank you IRIAF for potentially justifying millions spent on all those fancy splinter liveries for the aggressors…

  • James Deangelis

    Ah yes…. the flying turkey!

  • edgeoh

    How are they keeping these F-14s in the air? I thought there was an arms embargo. These planes have to be 40 years old and I thought the civilian tech reps sabotaged them before they left the country.

  • coss

    Those are 1980′s avionic F14′s

  • ask2wice

    The website linked below will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the F-14, including what happened to every single aircraft produced (by BuNo [aircraft serial number]). I like this statement from one of the pages the best:

    ” … back in 1984 the Navy rejected the F/A-18E/F program… But the light fighter lobby was strong enough and today the F/A-18E and F are already flying instead of new F-14Ds rolling off the assembly lines… “. It’s the last sentence on this page:

    http://www.anft.net/f-14/f14-history-f14d.htm

    Here’s the entire web address:

    http://www.anft.net/f-14/f14-history.htm

    If you are an F-14 Tomcat fanatic, and haven’t seen this website, you should really enjoy it!

  • ask2wice

    For those of you who may think that the F/A-18E/F is a better aircraft than the updated F-14D was, take a look at this analysis:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/fr/595147/posts

    Of course, everyone has an opinion, but this one by Rear Admiral Paul Gillcrist – U.S. Navy/Ret. (spent 33 years as a fighter jet pilot and wing commander and was operations commander for all Pacific Fleet fighters) and Bob Kress (an aeronautical engineer for Grumman) may contain too much bias. MAY … but I personally don’t think so! :)

  • ask2wice

    Check out what the new Tomcat would have looked like if they had kept the line open and continued to upgrade the aircraft. Pictures are posted below. Website ref:

    http://www.anft.net/f-14/f14-history-f14x.htm

    Note the new curved glove vanes that would have held more fuel, decreased approach speeds while trapping/landing on the carrier AND given it greater maneuverability as a dogfighter. Also there was a proposal to give it twin 30,000 lb. two-axis thrust vectoring engines! Upgraded avionics, radar … the works! Read the above link and weep if you wish you could have seen a brand new Super Duper Tomcat instead of what the U.S. Navy has now … the far less capable F/A-18E/F [not-so-super] Super Hornet.

  • Jack Ogg

    The simple fact is, NAVAIR is run by those who’s careers are tied to the F-18. As long as F-14s were around, there would be pressure to keep them onboard and do service life extension to the airframes. The solution was the guillotine in the desert. Now the only ones that are left are a hand full in museums, and a bunch of cobbled together ones in Iran. So sad.

  • F-14s fowevah

    Iran also bought the F-4 and the F-5, yet the U.S. military didn’t destroy all flying examples of these aircraft. Why did the F-14 have to be destroyed ? I hate the fact that our grandchildren will never see an F-14 fly at an airshow .

    • Capt. Maverick

      There were cases of the F-14 static display parts being stolen and people trying to sell them to Iran.

      • John Smith

        If our current inventory is so good, who cares if Iran got a few spares with a five-finger discount? They aren’t stealing a whole radar unit, either.

        • Mike_Hunt

          The F-14 is still rather potent, especially with Russian upgrades.

  • f35

    why are they still making the f 14 when they have the f 18 and the f 35? plus the f 35 is supposed to be bad cos it cant do a very good minimum radius turn…… is this true?

  • mmmssdd

    imperial Iran ,USA and Israel were once best friend and the Shah(Iranian king) was exiled by a revolution and created a Islamic republic(which is better than a monarchy) ad all the NATO weapons were given to the new Iran