On the same day, Su-34 Fullbacks launched 16 sorties against ground targets in Syria taking off from Krimsk airbase, in Russia.
Interestingly, during their transit across Middle East, the Russian strategic bombers were escorted by Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force F-14 Tomcat, Mig-29 Fulcrum andF-4 Phantom jets whose prior mission to visually observe activity of Russian bombers inside the Iranian airspace, from their entry point to the exit point.
Military aviation historian and journalist Babak Taghvaee has prepared an interesting infographic that provides lots of details about the Russian strategic bombers missions to Syria as well as about the Iranian chase planes.
Click below for a higher resolution version of the file.
Persian Tomcat and Russian Bear fly together during a strike mission against ground targets in Syria.
Something really interesting details have been exposed by the material released by Russia’s MoD lately.
Indeed, as you can see in the video below, IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) F-14 Tomcat interceptors escorted Russian Air Force Tu-95 Bear bombers flying in Iranian airspace during their 9h 30mins missions (from Engels airbase and back, along the Iraq-Iran-Caspian Sea 6,500 km-long corridor) against terrorist targets in Syria.
Russia has recently lifted the ban on sale of S-300 systems to Iran.
The S-300 is a mobile air defense system that couples a radars capable to track multiple targets with long-range missiles to hit aerial targets at a distance of 150 km and an altitude up to 27,000 meters. Although well-known to the western air forces, it remains a lethal SAM system that Iran could field to protect its nuclear sites.
From Apr. 20 to 30, at least 150 combat planes from all Combat Wings/Squadrons of the HAF performed various missions, day and night, such as Counter Air Operations against Integrated Air Defence Systems, Anti Surface Force Air Operations, Fighter Sweep, HVAAE (High Value Asset Air Escort), Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Time Sensitive Targets, Dynamic Targeting – Time Sensitive Targets.
Israel deployed 10 F-16I Sufa jets from four Squadrons (201 «The One», 253 «The Negev», 107 «The Knights of the Orange Tail» and 119 «The Bat) at the 117 Combat Wing/Andravida Air Base and U.S. Air Force in Europe dispatched a number of SF personnel as JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers).
The Israeli AF Commander Maj Gen Amir Eshel visited the troops and flew at least one mission over Aegean Sea along with his Greek counterpart Lt Gen Christos Vaitsis (with F-16D Block52+ ADV of 335 Sq. “Tiger”).
Royal Saudi Air Force F-15s intercepted an Iranian A310 carrying aid to Yemen.
A new video, recorded with a mobile phone and released by the Iranian Press TV, shows RSAF F-15s intercepting an Iranian Mahan Air Airbus 310 on its way to deliver humanitarian aid in Yemen.
According to the Iranians, the airliner had the required diplomatic clearances to fly to Yemen via Oman’s airspace but it was intercepted and escorted by at least a couple of armed Saudi F-15s.
Photos posted by Tasnim News show that the F-15s involved in the intercept were armed with AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles (most probably four) and carried three drop tanks to extend their endurance.
Based on the reports, the RSAF F-15Cs radioed the Airbus 310 that it could not land at Sana’a International Airport and later urged the Iranian aircrew to land at another airport “belonging to Saudi Arabia.”
However the Iranian pilots ignored the warning from Saudi jets escorting the civil plane from close distance and continued to Sana’a but they were forced to turn back as the airport was hit by a Saudi air strike which made the runway unserviceable.
According to Reuters, Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, the airport was bombed after the Iranian aircraft refused to coordinate with the coalition and the pilot ignored orders to turn back.
The incident comes days after another Iranian airplane reportedly carrying aid and medicine was prevented to enter the Yemeni airspace by RSAF jets in combat air patrol.
The Iranian Air Force is the last operator of the legendary F-14 Tomcat.
The photos in this article were recently released by FARS News Agency.
They show some Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force F-14 Tomcat jets be overhauled at an unspecified location (Tehran Mehrabad International Airport according to some sources).
Iran still operates some Tomcats that are being modernized to F-14AM (“Modernized”) standard to extend their operative life until 2030. Domestic upgrades include avionics (radar and RWR) and weapons: R-73E, AIM-54A, AIM-7E and AIM-9J are among the air-to-air missiles adapted to the aircraft’s fire control system.