Author Archives: Winston Smith

The most interesting Warplanes of the Iranian Air Force Open Day

Every year from Mar. 21 to Mar. 31 the regular Iranian Air Force holds an open house and exhibition similar to those one might see in North America or European nations.

The Open Day of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force is a legacy left from the former Imperial Iranian Air Force where military installations were opened to public more often than not.

Actually, the recent air show at Dezful 4th air base also coincides with the Persian Norooz and the annual trips to former Iran-Iraq war fronts/trenches taken by the enthusiastic Iranian public.

IRIAF 2

Among the aircraft on display, obviously, several U.S. types locally modified, including the legendary IRIAF F-14 Tomcat, the F-4E Phantom (like the two involved in a close encounter with an American F-22 over the Persian Gulf last year) and the F-5 Tiger.

IRIAF 4

The IRIAF still operates some Mig-29 Fulcrums as the one depicted in the image below.

IRIAF 5

Su-24 Fencer:

IRIAF 6

Image credit: Danial Behmanesh/nahaja.aja.ir

 

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Snowbirds display team cancels US shows due to budget cuts

Canadian premier air demo team forced to cancel 2014 US air show schedule due to budget cuts.

Following their American demo team counter parts, that were grounded last year due to the sequestration cuts, the Royal Canadian Air Force’s “Snowbirds” has been forced to cancel their 2014 US air show appearances due to budget cuts constraints.

This does not mean their shows won’t go on as scheduled in Canada, but their presence in the United States has now been put on hold.

The RCAF “Snowbirds” are Canada’s military aerobatics or air show flight demonstration team whose purpose is to “demonstrate the skill, professionalism, and teamwork of Canadian Forces personnel.”

The squadron is based at CFB Moose Jaw in the province of Saskatchewan.

The Snowbirds are the first Canadian air demonstration team to be designated as a squadron.

RCAF’s Snowbirds spokesman Captain Thomas Edelson says the numbers of flying hours were cut for the squadron based in Moose Jaw, Sask., so the four upcoming U.S. shows were cancelled.

The Royal Canadian Air Force’s Snowbirds flies the iconic Canadian built CT-114 Tutor aircraft. The CT-114 Tutor was designed and manufactured by ‘Canadair Ltd’ to Royal Canadian Air Force specifications. The first delivery took place on Oct. 29, 1963, and the aircraft were put to use as the RCAF’s basic jet trainer.

By 1967, 190 aircraft, designated CL-41 by Canadair, had been delivered to the RCAF. The nimble CT-114 Tutor trainer fleet was retired from frontline RCAF service in 2000, and its services were replaced with the CT-156 Harvard II and the venerable CT-155 Hawk aircraft.

Image credit: Royal Canadian Air Force

 

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Canadian pilots successfully escape turboprop trainer through a “controlled ejection”

Two pilots had to abandon a turboprop training aircraft when they determined it would not be safe to attempt a controlled landing.

On Jan. 24, the crew of a Royal Canadian Air Force’s CT-156 Harvard II (the Royal Canadian AF version of the US built T-6 Texan II trainer) experienced what the RCAF calls a “controlled ejection” during their landing approach at 15 Wing Moose Jaw.

An issue with the turboprop landing gear had developed during the flight, and it led to the eventual “controlled ejection.” When the pilots realized they had a problem with the gear, a second aircraft from the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 15 Moose Jaw Wing launched from the Saskatchewan training air base to survey the issue. The observers in the second aircraft determined the problem could result in a dangerous landing attempt, so the Wing Operations decided that an ejection was the prudent course of action.

Both pilots walked safely from the incident and are being treated for very minor injuries. In the meantime, the flight training at the base has been paused pending further review of the incident and other safety procedures.

Winston Smith for the Aviationist

Image credit: Royal Canadian Air Force

 

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Iran’s S-300 air defense systems procurement saga

The Iranian regime is once again trying to procure the Russian made S-300 air defense missiles, even after they had claimed that their Islamic revolutionary engineers could manufacture the S-300 system in Iran without any foreign assistance. Turns out, those bogus claims weren’t true.

The S-300 is a Soviet long range SAM (Surface to Air Missile) developed to defend against aircraft and cruise missiles with variants developed to intercept ballistic missiles.

The Iranian Air Defense Forces have some modern air defense systems such as the Russian built Tor M-1 and legacy air defense systems such as US made I-Hawk MIM-23, or Russian built SAM-6 and S-200 systems.

Almost all of these air defense systems are designed to deal with low to medium altitude targets, save for the legacy S-200 of which Iran has a handful. It must be noted that some of Syria’s Sa-17 air defense systems have found their way to Iran through Lebanon’s terrorist group Hezbollah which upon arrival, were given a new paint scheme and an Arabic name ‘Raad.’ Some analysts have rightly speculated that Iran has been the actual financier of these expensive purchases by the Syrians in the first place.

Iran’s plans to obtain the sophisticated S-300 missile system stems from the regime’s desire to protect its nuclear facilities from a possible US or Israeli air strike. The original deal was suspended by the Russian government out of respect for the United Nations’ embargoes on the Iranians.

So far their attempts at procuring S-300 have been futile. They must know that S-300 will not stop the Israeli Air Force or the U.S. Air Force from penetrating the Iranian air space in order to bomb the regime’s nuclear weapons facilities.

Winston Smith for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: FARS News agency

 

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Iran’s mysterious military plane crashes that amount to “mass purges”

On Jan. 5, 1995 the entire senior commanders of the regular Iranian Air Force (HQ’s general staff) were killed in a suspicious plane crash near the city of Isfahan. Among the dead were several generals including the Iranian Air Force’s commander Gen. Mansour Sattari, the air force’s deputy commanders Gen. Yassini, Gen. Ardestani and a few other high ranking officers.

The cause of the crash is still unknown.

The IRIAF’s board of inquiry never released its findings, if they found any. Some attributed the cause of crash to be ‘pilot error’ as some recalled the pilot being a ‘flight training school reject’ who was about to be dismissed. But why give the control of a VIP aircraft with a dozen VIP passengers to a ‘flight school reject’ then?

Gen Sattari 1

The Iranian regime is known to be hostile to the regular Iranian armed forces (Air Force, Army and Navy).

The first round of mass purges came right after the Ayatollahs’ seizure of power in February 1979. At the time, they mercilessly executed almost all the Shah’s armed forces generals and those who were deemed anti-revolutionary. It is believed that upwards of 9,000 military service-members were executed between February 1979 and October 1980, while hundreds were let go under bogus circumstances. Among those who were killed, there were dozens of highly trained fighter pilots, technicians and war planners whose absence left Iran almost defense-less against the Iraqi onslaught during the coming 8 year long war.

The second round of mass executions came in 1983-84 when several senior naval and ground forces officers were charged with ‘membership in Tudeh (communist party of Iran) party’ and summarily executed. Many claim that these men’s main crime was protesting the regime’s plans to expand the war and seize Iraqi territory. These senior officers believed the war objective of ejecting Iraq from Iran’s territory had been achieved and it was time to settle for peace.

But these mass executions and death squads are the official purges we know about. And the Iranian regime is actually proud of its work in ‘cleansing the earth from corrupt individuals’. The notion of ‘eradicating the corrupt from the face of the earth is very common in Iran.

Being ‘corrupt’ or ‘Mofsed’ is also a charge that the regime lays on any one who might be deemed counter-revolutionary or un-islamic.

And then there are purges we do not know about or haven’t heard much about.

The first of these came in September of 1981. The then commander of the Iranian AF Javad Fakouri along with the Chief of Staff of Iran’s armed forces General Fallahi, Defense Minister Namjou (all western oriented senior officers) died in a mysterious crash aboard a C-130 Hercules transport plane, while returning from an inspection tour of the Iranian military gains in the war against Saddam’s army.

Again, no official cause of the crash was ever released. Through these violent mass executions and lay offs, the new Islamic regime solidified its control over what was dubbed the Shah’s “Taghuti” Armed Forces.

As mentioned earlier, the entire command and general staff of the regular Iranian Air Force (IRIAF) was decimated in a mysterious ‘Lockheed JetStarII’ plane crash.

Gen. Sattari (a ground radar control officer by training) had become commander of the Iranian AF in 1986 at a time when the air force was under enormous pressure, and lacked any serious capability during the last phase of the war with Iraq. He’d become famous for introducing I-HAWK air defense missile batteries as battlefield mobile air defense systems. Through personal innovation and initiative, he single handedly was responsible for downing dozens of Iraqi aircraft. His connections with the current president of Iran who was chief of civil and military defense at the time paid off in 1986, and he was appointed the commander of the air force.

Gen Sattari

Though not known for being pro-Shah or remotely western, he had an independent streak that led him to be distrusted by the regime. He had grand plans to modernize the battered air force and pushed to purchase new aircraft (MiG-29s, Sukhoi-24, F-7 Chengdu… etc) and wished to strengthen the weakened air arm under his command. He retained many of the US trained pilots and technicians. He fought tooth and nail to have many of the western trained personnel be returned to active duty since their expertise were needed to maintain the western aircraft.

Those plans were not favored by a regime that regards the regular army as ‘Taghuti’ and relies on the ‘Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’ to protect the Islamic revolution. Not to mention using the IRGC as a check against the regular military. (IRGC has seized or established grounds/bases near every major regular military base in Iran).

Once those senior commanders (read obstacles) were killed, the regime went into one of its mass purges again. Dismissal rates increased, dissident personnel were thrown in jail, any one who voiced his concern against rampant corruption was jailed, cronyism grew larger as the new commander of the IRIAF Gen. Baghae’e (known as ‘Choopan’ or herder, for his love of goats, cows and sheep) turned the air force bases around the country into herding grounds, and started using the air force’s conscript soldiers as slave laborers in the regime’s oil and gas projects through out the country. He basically did what he was told to do: keep an important branch of the regular military weak and incompetent.

At the time of the ‘JetStarII crash’ in Isfahan in January of 1995, many within the air force community believed the cause of the incident was ‘a package’ given to a crew member as a gift. Did the ‘gift’ explode mid-air causing the loss of cabin pressure and subsequent loss of life and aircraft in the process? No one knows.

But the history of military purges in Iran tells me that the regime did not want General Sattari and co to run the regular air force.

What better way to dismiss these men in a mysterious mid-air crash than to risk upsetting 1/3rd of Iran’s mostly pro-western US trained regular military?

Winston Smith for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: The Spirit of Man, Wiki

 

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