Previously unknown details about Iranian F-4, F-5, Su-24 and UAVs involvement in air strikes on ISIS targets in Iraq

All you need to know about the Iranian involvement in the air strikes against ISIS in Iraq.

Al Jazeera footage aired a few days ago exposed an IRIAF F-4 Phantom performing an air strike on ISIS positions in Iraq.

The news of a cooperation between Washington and Tehran, later confirmed by the Pentagon, quickly spread across the world and images of the Iranian Phantoms in the colors of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force have appeared on worldwide media outlets. But the Iranian contribution to the air war on ISIS includes other assets.

F-4 Phantom IRIAF ISIS

An insight into the IRIAF missions in Iraq was provided by Iranian defense expert Babak Taghvaee, a very well known author of several publications about the Iranian air forces and a regular contributor to some of the most read aviation magazines.

Taghvaee summed up the key features about the Iranian air raids in an email to The Aviationist.

– 18th to 20th November, several interdiction sorties were performed by the 2nd and 4th TFB’s F-5s in the Diyala province.

– Between Nov. 20t and Nov. 23 November, the RF-4Es of IRIAF and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) of the IRGC-ASF (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp Aerospace Force) performed recce sorties over Jalula and Saadia.

– Between Nov. 23 and Nov. 30, the F-4Es of the 3rd TFB and 9th TFB performed CAS (Close Air Support) sorties for the Kurdish Peshmerga, Badr militia and Iraqi SpecOps.

– On Dec. 1 and 2, four Su-24MKs performed several combat air patrols and on-call CAS sorties deep inside Iraqi borders.

– On 29th and 30th November, the indigenous Sattar 4 LGBs and GBU-78/A Ghased TV guided bombs were used against the Daesh’s strongholds and heavy trucks successfully for first time in battle zone.

In conclusion, the Kurds and Iraqis retrieved the cities of Jalula and Saadia under fire support of IRIAF.

“The Americans had full coordination with Iranians during the combat sorties of IRIAF,” Taghvee highlighted.

Indeed, although it was theoretically possible for Iranian planes to fly inside Iraq without any coordination with other air forces operating in the same airspace, it would have been suicidal. For proper deconfliction of tactical assets, prior coordination and air space management and control are required.

There are several aircraft performing Airspace Control, Airborne Early Warning over Syria and Iraq: no plane could fly undetected in the area.

Anyway, we can’t but notice that, when called into action, the Iranian air force can conduct real combat missions in a low lethality scenario with a variety of (ageing) tactical planes and UAVs: facts that could fuel a much more credible propaganda than that made of some weird or totally fake claims we have commented in the past.

 Image credit: Shahram Sharifi/Wiki


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. I can’t think of a better way for observers to gather information about Iran’s current capabilities and tactics. The thing is, Iran knows this and did it willingly. Good thing!

  2. Where are all the comedians now? Any item about Iran usually sees hordes of comedians at the ready to poke fun and make light. Whilst the IRIAF and other groups cannot compete with US technology they are able to maintain and even upgrade their existing assets through ingenuity , cunning and guile. I wonder what would happen to the other airforces in the region if they were not trained, equipped, maintained and in some cases funded by their big brother. Anyway the important point is here that those creatures are being sent to the hell that they came from. S

    • Why would us comedians be making fun of Iran for using ancient US weapons to kill terrorists? Good for them.

      We typically only make fun of Iran when they introduce fake aircraft, with fake RC plane videos.

      • I do not specifically remember any message from you that is worth anything. You are neither an aerospace professional nor a serious person. So who cares what do you consider fake or real.

        And FYI with your logic, USAF uses ancient weapons too. F15 and F18s are not much younger.

  3. just close your mouth already david , we are well aware of your agenda here in this ridiculous blog of yours . iran’s fleet is aging ? well what about US bombers and fuel tankers and cargos which age about half a century ? what about your 40yr old F-18s ? they are oozing oil dude

    • Considering the newest B-52 is now fifty-two years old and the oldest Iranian F-4E is a “mere” 43… But like the BUFF, there’re many proven programs out there to extend a Phantom’s life and Iran is taking advantage of them, obviously, either by figuring it out on their own or buying the expertise.

    • What a silly response. To even suggest that the USAF, one of the most cutting-edge air forces in the world, is outdated like the IRIAF because it uses some older designs is just plain ridiculous. Yes, there are older aircraft designs in the USAF’s fleet. But do you really think a Super Hornet is the same plan as the YF-18? Or do you think a C-130J is the same plane as the birds they flew in the 50s? Don’t make me laugh.

      Yes, Iran’s fleet is aging. No, the USAF’s fleet is not aging. The Iranians have obviously done an excellent job maintaining their air force with limited supplies but that doesn’t change the obvious facts. Go take your nationalism somewhere else.

      • oh please , don’t make us all laugh our butts off

        u think you are the only ones who perform upgrade programs and overhauls on your planes ? oh please …. lol

        just to burst your bubble , the AN/APQ-120 radar has been upgraded which resulted in significant range increase , precision and so forth . the weapons system has been upgraded to accommodate more weapons like russian-origin missiles or even anti-ship cruise missiles .

        all the engines are overhauled and even modernized .

        in F-14A , almost all of them are upgraded to F-14AM standard which incorporates fully digitalized AN-AWG-9 radar , and lots and lots of more upgrades including Auxiliary power units for better engine performance and reduce the risk of STALL in high G maneuvers during dogfights .

        i can go on with all the details about all of our planes , but that would take my time .


        your done for today , NEXT ……

  4. The IRIAF was the most successful f-14 airforce… also the shah rescued the f-14 program and allowed the navy to have the best fleet defense interceptor and dogfighter ever, even the f-15 could not win against f-14. iran maintained the f-14 with few pilots and techs and almost no parts, the shia revolution imprisoned and tortured or killed shah pilots and techs. only the iran-iraq war 1980-1988 released the pilots and techs from jail and possibly death. most of irans f-14 accomplishments are described in ospreys book, Osprey – Combat Aircraft – 049 – Iranian F-14 Tomcat Units in Combat. eye opening and for most US-biased reader new info.

    • “… even the f-15 could not win against f-14.”?

      Prove it.

      And, which fighter is still in service in the largest numbers and still in production?

      How many Iranian F-14’s are in service?
      How many have crashed?

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