Top Gun Reloaded: F-14 Tomcats take off for night missions. Few days ago, in Iran.

World’s last active service F-14 Tomcat jets took part in a large exercise in Iran. And are some really cool shots.

The U.S. Navy retired the legendary F-14 in September 2006. Nowadays, the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) remains the world’s only operator of the Tomcat, a type of interceptor that Tehran has been able to kept airworthy and somehow enhance with some domestic avionics upgrades and weapons  throughout the years in spite of the embargo imposed after the 1979 Revolution.

The Persian Tomcats, that the IRIAF plans to fly until 2030, are based at TFB.8 (Tactical Fighter Base 8) Baba’i near Eshahan, in central Iran.


“TFB.8 has three F-14 Squadrons with total 62 F-14As but only almost half are airworthy at this moment; just 35 according to the 2013 records” says Iranian Defense Journalist and writer Babak Taghvaee.

“During this three days exercise six of the best F-14As of the 82nd and 83rd Tactical Fighter Squadrons participated. Why the best? Because IRIAF has two types of F-14As: PMC (Partially Mission-Capable) ones, usually suitable for Training and can become FMC in case of war. And Fully Mission-Capable Tomcats with fully operable fire control system, armament system and INS. These FMC F-14As are usually used for 24/7 Quick Reaction Alert and other combat missions (Usually 70% of the airworthy Tomcats are FMC).”


According to Taghvaee at least six of these FMC Tomcats, including an F-14AM, took part to the exercise and for first time in ten years pilots had chance to renew their AIM-9 and AIM-7 AAM launch skills.

“The F-14s were used in simulated HVACAP, BARCAP and CAP. Escorted F-4Es in first night of exercise. Then engaged with MiG-29s in morning of second day. And launched missiles today morning (Last and third day). They also escorted the Tanker airplanes.”


Last year, Iranian 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 targets in Syria.

F-14AMs (“Modernized”) include domestic 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.


Some Iranian Tomcats are also 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.

Image credit: FARS News

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.


    • that’s why grumman was destroyed by congress. They were simply too good and the lockheed martin lobby money givers weren’t happy about that. The f-14a could destroy SR-71 blackbird with Aim-54, and then of course the F-14D could wipe the floor with the F-22 raptor due to it’s aim-54 and IRST+radar linking combination. Grumman may have died. But their long hard fight created a plane that did just what it was designed to do – to take out any aircraft in the present (1970s) and anywhere from 30-50 years into the future. It did just that.

      • “The f-14a could destroy SR-71 blackbird with Aim-54,”


        Though the SR-71 could be “intercepted” (by later aircraft), those interceptions were incredibly fleeting therefore not viable. SR-71 is commonly stated to have a top speed of mach 3.3… yet SR-71 pilots have claimed that at a dash the SR-71 could (on a regular basis) exceed the Mach 3.3 with ease.

        When USSR Mig-25 pilot Vektor Belenko defected with his Mig-25 it was said that he had two requests, to see Disney Land and the SR-71. During his debrief Viktor Belenko outlined the tactics for defending against/intercepting the SR-71 (no successful operational or aggressive interception of the SR-71 has EVER OCCURRED). Essentially it looked like this…

        This is being very optimistic. The altitude and speed at which the SR-71 flew and did its missions made it exceedingly difficult to intercept. Simply put, by the time the intercepting aircraft is either scrambled off the runway or vectored into the area, the SR-71 would be too far away by the time they get there.

        “F-14D could wipe the floor with the F-22 raptor due to it’s aim-54 and IRST+radar linking combination.”

        > that is foolish and WRONG on so many levels. Want an analogy of your purposed F-14D vs F-22?

        The F-14D is a soldier armed with a M107A1 but is wearing that bright neon orange vest and hat that hunters wear. The F-22 is that sniper armed with an M110 but is fully covered and properly “dressed” his ghillie suit. Who do you think will be spotted first? Who do you think will get the first shot? I rest my case.

        • The F-14D can detect a raptor with it’s IRST. It’s infrared dumbass. Btw, your raptor can’t fly in the rain. So don’t even mention weather.

          The Aim-54 has a range of 120+ miles and is a mach 5+ 9g-turn sustaining air to air missile. Your shitty sr-71 is a mere mach 3.2, 3G-turn sustaining pile of shit that if built today would probably cost over 400 million bucks.

          You’re an idiot.

      • who then turned around and hit afterburners on back home even though he can’t actually outrun a tomcat after realising Iran plans on installing something similar to the IRST found on the F-14D tomcat.

          • yeah it’s pretty funny that f-22 raptor fans think the f-22 can put up a fight in a real combat scenario. Probably why they haven’t been up against any other planes yet. Only used as strike mission, what, twice last year? That was it? Lol.

            Have fun catching your raptor on fire when the rain leaks the glue and paint into the exhaust

  1. “somehow enhance with some domestic avionics upgrades and weapons throughout the years in spite of the embargo imposed after the 1979 Revolution.”

    Shouldn’t really be any surprise. Persians are not Arabs, and the chaps who you see in the streets in pictures of the 1953 coup’d’etat are reminiscent of those who you see in photos of the rearguard of the March on Rome, or the street celebrations after Rhodesia’s UDI. The clerics can only hold them back from success so much, and at least they’re Shia clerics, not retrograde Sunni barbarians.

  2. Remember, the Tomcat was designed to operate off of U.S. supercarriers. They were made to take a beating. It should come as no surprise that they have lasted as long as they have for the Iranians, who obviously operate them off of land-based airfields only. But that the fighter’s titanium wingbox has held up for all these years is a real testimony not to the metal, but to the designers and engineers at Grumman Aerospace. Too bad such a beautiful plane should be disgraced by operating for such a repulsive regime. Oh well. What government in the Middle East other than Israel’s isn’t?

Comments are closed.