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.
The Iranian Tomcats can also carry the AIM-54A+ “Fakour-90” missile: a domestically upgraded, partially reverse engineered version of the famous AIM-54 Phoenix long range missile of the U.S. Navy F-14s.
The IRIAF F-14s are also being given a three-tone Asian Minor II camouflage pattern loosely resembling the “splintered” one adopted by Russian 4th and 5th generation fighter planes and U.S. Aggressors.
Tehran is believed to operate a fleet of about 60 F-14s even if the number of combat capable aircraft is unknown. According to some rumors, there would be plans to use the Tomcat in the air-to-ground role as well.
Anyway, in some way or another one Tehran managed to keep the F-14s airworthy, a significant achievement considered the embargo on Iran and the consequent lack of spare parts for the Tomcats.
Image credit: FARS News agency
H/T to user “ASFTD” on ACIG forum for the heads-up
The canopy looks quite sandblasted…
Indeed as I recall reading some years ago that the Iranian fleet was grounded for certain due to lack of spares and the complexity of the airframe made it a cert that this was to be forever – it was quite a surprise to hear of them being in the air still after an embargo thats older then many of my friends ie 1979.
They have never stopped flying these aircraft, and most of their parts are produced domestically an have been for sometime. No fan of the Iranians, but just wanted to let you know the Persian Cats are and have been operating each year since they arrived. Now as far as flight hours per aircraft, number of aircraft, etc…..who knows? I can safely say they look ROUGH in this article and they have all got to be well past their airframe’s projected lifespan at this point.
In your dreams.
Massive petrodollars prevents that for sure.
We know of Israeli assistance to Iran with their underground F-4 program.
We also know the assistance was far more than tires. Also considering Israeli penetration into the American defence sector in the 80’s I have to ask if our friends in the middle east gave Iran a helping hand with their Tomcats as well. The obvious counterarguments are that the IAF did not operate the F-14 (and thus did not have a in house set of spares to draw on.) , or any other aircraft that shared in it’s parts train. However it’s also easy to speculate the F-14 spares might have been part of the secret CIA arms for hostage exchanges that were going on at the time. Given how we know the Iranian F-4 program was propped up by Israel, and that the Lavi is now being built in China. I’m going to bet that one day we find our friends were making a buck or two and trying to not make a new enemy in the region. Or that someone in the US with an independent bent and their own foreign policy were making use of the Israeli pipeline to Iran in the day to keep Iranian Tomcats flying.
And just to preceed any flames at me for being anti Israeli. I was highly entertained by Israeli wars in the middle east. It’s great theater, and I love they they test American weapons for us. I hope they keep winning. They’re civilized, and they’ve done wonders with the land they’ve conquered. Goodness knows what it would be if it were still a part of Jordan. But to say they are our friends … well, Israel is no England. They act on their own for their own interest. The US should too and I think most Americans have a child like love or hatred for them. We should be more adult in our understandings and dealings with them.
“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” One has to wonder if such support might have been to counterbalance the threat from Saddam, who took to lobbing Scuds at Israel during Gulf 1. Retaliation?
What’s surprising about Iran’s F-14 fleet isn’t that they’re still flying, but that many who should know better are genuinely surprised that they still are, or incapable of accepting that their capabilities are that developed. After all, if they aren’t, why would we be worried about their other programs? In the end, since they’re still flying anyhow, let’s hope Iran’s Tomcats see service against ISIS; it would be a good final chapter for a legendary bird. Who knows what the future holds…
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