Iran has recently unveiled some new missiles (including the Fakour-90, a reviewed AIM-54 Phoenix), air defense systems, it has announced to have reverse engineered the RQ-170 Sentinel etc.
However, in the same hours such achievements were advertised, the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force suffered a loss that was not made public nor mentioned by any local media outlet.
According to eye witness accounts, an Iranian ‘F-4E Phantom II‘ of the 61st Tactical Fighter Squadron crashed on Bushehr air base’s runway 31L on Sept. 23.
The cause of the accident according to such sources was “a violent tire burst” that forced the aircraft off the runway. As a result, the crew attempted to eject which resulted in the unfortunate death of the F-4 pilot Major Rezaee and injuring WSO Capt. Salimi (shown in the above photo).
Bushehr is home to two squadrons of F-4E Phantom IIs, and one permanent detachment of F-14A Tomcats originally out of the 8th Isfahan Tactical Air Base. Bushehr is also the same base where the drone harassing F-4E had flown from, which was later intercepted by a USAF F-22 Raptor.
This is the second such incident at this air base. Back in January 2012, an F-14A crashed at night immediately after take-off killing the pilot and RIO. Needless to say, the port city of Bushehr is also home to the Iranian regime’s sole nuclear power reactor built by the Russians.
The ‘Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force‘ was the second largest operator of the F-4 and RF-4E Phantoms after Germany. The service has managed to keep the US built type fly-worthy by obtaining spare parts from the global black markets, or through indigenous aircraft industries. It is said to have around 65 flyable F-4E Phantom II aircraft mainly based at 3rd Hamedan, 6th Bushehr and 9th Bandar Abbas tactical fighter bases, with a few aging F-4D aircraft based in Chahbahar 10th AB.
As said, this deadly incident did not receive any media coverage inside of Iran as it coincided with the regime’s “Sacred Defense Week” festivities commemorating the beginning of the 8 year long Iraq-Iran war of the 1980s.
Winston Smith for TheAviationist.com
Image credit: Shahram Sharifi