Tag Archives: Iran

U.S. F-22 stealth fighter pilot taunted Iranian F-4 Phantom combat planes over the Persian Gulf

Earlier this year, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, said that an IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) F-4 Phantom combat plane attempted to intercept a U.S. MQ-1 drone flying in international airspace off Iran.

As we reported back then, one of the two F-4 Phantom jets came to about 16 miles from the UAV but broke off pursuit after they were broadcast a warning message by two American planes escorting the Predator.

The episode happened in March 2013, few months after a two Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes operated by the Pasdaran (informal name of the IRGC – the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution) attempted to shoot down an American MQ-1 flying a routine surveillance flight in international airspace some 16 miles off Iran, the interception of the unmanned aircraft failed. After this attempted interception the Pentagon decided to escort the drones involved in ISR (intelligence surveillance reconnaissance)  missions with fighter jets (either F-18 Hornets with the CVW 9 embarked on the USS John C. Stennis whose Carrier Strike Group is currently in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility or F-22 Raptors like those deployed to Al Dhafra in the UAE.

New details about the episode were recently disclosed by Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh who on Sept. 17 not only confirmed that the fighter jets providing HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) were F-22 stealth fighters but also said that:

“He [the Raptor pilot] flew under their aircraft [the F-4s] to check out their weapons load without them knowing that he was there, and then pulled up on their left wing and then called them and said ‘you really ought to go home'”

If the episode went exactly as Welsh described it, it was something more similar to Maverick’s close encouter with Russian Mig-28s in Top Gun movie than a standard interception.

It would be interesting to know how the Raptor managed to remain stealth (did they use their radar? were they vectored by an AWACS? etc.) and why it was not the E-2 most probably providing Airborne Early Warning in the area to broadcast the message to persuade the F-4 to pursuit the drone before the Iranian Phantoms and the U.S. Raptors got too close in a potentially dangerous and tense situation?

Anyway the U.S. pilot achieved to scare the Iranian pilots off and save the drone. A happy ending worthy of an action movie.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

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Iranian F-14 Tomcat fighter jets get a modern “splinter” color scheme

The photo in this post depicts the first Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force F-14AM (“Modernized”) landing at Tehran Mehrabad International Airport in April 2012.

Iran still operates some Tomcats that are being modernized to extend their operative life. Domestic upgrades include avionics, weapons (R-73E, AIM-54A+ “Fakkur”, AIM-54A, AIM-7E and AIM-9J are among the air to air missiles adapted to the aircraft’s fire control system) and color scheme: indeed the plane was give a  three-tone Asian Minor II camouflage pattern resembling the one adopted by Russian 4th and 5th generation fighter planes and U.S. Aggressors.

Image credit: Babak Taghvaee

 

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Syrian rebels have captured an intact (Made in Iran) “Pahpad” drone. And here’s a video showing some details.

Many videos showing the so-called “Pahpad” drone, made in Iran and used by Syria to spy on the clashes in Homs were uploaded by the rebels since the beginning of the uprising in Syria.

All the footage depicted the made in Iran UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) from the ground or what remained of the crashed ones.

Until Jun. 12, when a new video showed a seemingly intact “Pahpad” in the hands of the rebels.

Intact Pahpad

The new video provides close-up images of the mysterious drone: the engine, the wings, some numbers (as aircraft’s individual codes), as well as a turret, most probably the one of the FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red) camera.

Noteworthy, the airframe’s base color is light blue, as in the first images of the Iranian drone published on the Mashreghnews.ir website, with a sand-colored coat.

“Pahpad” (پهپاد) is not actually the official name of the UAV but the short form of “parandeye hedayat pazire az rahe door” (“پرنده هدایت پذیر از راه دور”) that is the Persian for “remotely piloted aircraft”.

H/T to Eliot Higgins aka “Brown Moses” for the heads-up

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New photo shows that China has really copied the U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone

The following image, grabbed by Chinese forums, is circulating on the Internet.

RQ-170 copy

Image source: http://hobbyshanghai.com.cn/

It allegedly shows a series of brand new UAVs (unamanned aerial vehicles) one of those resembles the famous Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel, one of those was captured in Iran in 2011.

Last Februrary, Iran released footage that proves it has, if not literally decoded, at least accessed some of the data stored inside the U.S. stealthy RQ-170 drone captured in December 2011.

Previously, in Aug. 2012, The Aviationist published an article titled: Chinese delegation currently in Iran to copy the U.S. stealthy RQ-170 drone captured in 2011 about the news that a group of 17 Chinese expert had visited Iran not only to inspect, but also to collect and bring back to China some key components of the U.S. RQ-170 drone captured by Iran in December 2011.

That article ended with the following text:

“As already explained when commenting Iran’s claims that they had decoded the stealthy drone, while the internal memories were (probably) automatically erased as a consequence of the loss of control procedure and data will never been recovered, the circuitry, lenses, sensors have probably survived the mysterious crash landing.

Therefore they can be evaluated and tested.

And copied, one of the tasks China does better.

If the above image is genuine, China has already cloned the stealthy drone the U.S. lost (almost intact) in Iran.

Last week Iranian officials claimed they are ready to fly their own RQ-170 copy as well.

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Satellite image shows five F-22 near Iran (one year ago). And here is who they were.

Even if we have often reported the presence of the F-22 Raptors at Al Dhafra, satellite imagery showing five radar evading planes parked at the main airbase in the UAE has been made publicly available for the first time recently.

F-22 Al Dhafra

The aircraft, parked next to an F-15E Strike Eagle, are five of the six F-22 that had (more or less secretely) deployed in South East Asia from Holloman New Mexico, via Moron, Spain, on Apr. 20, 2012.

The image is not only interesting because it shows the main U.S. Air Force plane about 100 miles from Iran, but also because it is the first one to show fast jets on one of most important U.S. airbases in the region.

Using the time option on Google Earth, you may even observe how the airbase has grown since 2004: the large apron in front of the light hangars where the F-22 were parked in April 2012, did not exist in the satellite image taken 9 years ago.

Al Dhafra 2004

Image credit: Google Earth

Moreover, if you watch the imagery of the subsequent years you will notice that only support planes (E-3s, KC-135s etc) could be seen stationed at Al Dhafra: the presence of the F-22s beginning in 2012, is a clear sign of how the situation in the region has gradually changed with an increasing tension with Iran.

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