Tag Archives: Iran

Up-close and personal with Iran's Air Force: rare insight into pilot's traditions, procedures, equipment

An interesting behind the scene video was shot on Apr. 17, when Iran commemorated National Armed Forces Day with a military parade at Tehran.

It shows, Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) pilots before, during and after the flybys providing some interesting details on their traditions, including kissing the Koran before their mission and kissing three times each time other at the end of the sortie; their flight gear (unit patches and flight helmets), and F-4, F-14 and Su-24 hardware.

Unfortunately, no subtitles are available for this documentary.

Another day, another military parade: Iran celebrates Armed Forces Day

Just a couple of days after North Korea displayed its military hardware in Pyongyang, during which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivered his first public televised speech since the failed rocket launch, a new military parade took place in one of world’s most hot places: Iran.

On Apr. 17, Iran commemorated National Armed Forces Day with a ceremony attended by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and several of high-ranking military officials.

According to the Mehr News Agency, thousands goose-stepping soldiers took part to the parade in which some military vehicles and equipment were displayed, including the new generation of the Zolfiqar tank, the Samsam tank, the Borragh personnel carrier, the Naze’at missile launcher, the Misaq 2 missile launcher, the Badr tank transporter, and advanced radar and missile systems.

Several planes attended the “show” as well, including IRIAF F-14s, and Su-24s (performing aerial refueling), even if, to be honest, nothing comparable to the 70 F-15Es launched yesterday by the U.S. Air Force from Seymour Johnson AFB.

If I were to choose between the IRIAF current fighters and the 70 F-15Es of the 4th FW, most probably I’d pick the Strike Eagles.

Image credit: ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images

Addressing the military personnel, Ahmadinejad said:

“Security in the Persian Gulf will be promoted with the participation of regional countries, and the interference of foreigners will bring nothing but insecurity,” he said.

A message to Israel, U.S. and some regional allies, in anticipation of a possible (imminent?) attack on Tehran’s nuclear program.

Image credits: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi and ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images

New close-up image of Iranian Mohajer-3 drone disclosed

Sent to me by a reader of the blog, this image (that as far as I know was originally posted by the Iranian site Mashreghnews.ir) is one the few available on the Internet of what should be a Mohajer-3 drone.

Also known as the “Dorna”, Iran’s Mohajer-3 seems to be quite similar to the Mohajer-2. It is a equipped with a forward facing camera, mounted in the front of the fuselage and is believed to be able to carry TV or FLIR cameras in a new payload bay. It carries also a line-scanner that, according to some Iranian websites, is capable of a 1-meter resolution at an altitude of 5 km.

Image credit: Mashreghnews.ir

Made-in-Iran Syrian drone dubbed “Pahpad” has been widely employed in Syria but the Assad’s regime against the oppositors. For the moment, in spite of the rumors, no images of other types of drones have emerged.

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B-1s and F-22s involved in a long range strike exercise. Getting ready for North Korea or Iran?

U.S. F-22s, along with E-3s, F-16s, KC-135 and B-1s took part on Apr. 4, 2012, to an exercise aimed at validating Bones capability to successfully perform long range strike missions similar to one conducted in Libya in the early stages of Operation Odyssey Dawn.

Dubbed Operation Chimichanga, the exercise saw three B-1 bombers from the 37th Bomb Squadron flying from Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, to Fort Yukon, Alaska to conduct a combat a 10-hour round trip training mission based off lessons learned from their raid in Libya.

In particular, Operation Chimichanga gave the 37th BS crews the opportunity to test the tactics and procedures for “a more robust and accurate in-flight planning and retargeting of the AGM-158 Joint Air-Surface Stanfoff Missile.”

A B-1 can accommodate up to 24 radar-evading JASSM in its bomb bays. This GPS-guided cruise missiles with 2,250-lbs warhead, can be fired from more than 200 miles, even if it will be replaced, beginning next year, by a JASSM-ER (extended-range) AGM-158B that can reach a target 600 miles away.

Among the objective of the operation was also to validate the F-22 and F-16’s ability to escort the bomber into a so-called anti-access target area: with a stealthy cruise missile that can hit a target from about 1,000 km away, the need of escort fighters might become almost superfluous, especially if the B-1 is called into action when the enemy air defenses have been already degraded (as happened in Libya).

Noteworthy, flying for the first time with the most recent “Block 3.1” hardware and softare upgrade, that provides the ability to find and engage ground targets, the Raptors took part to the exercise in a dual role: HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) and air-to-surface, providing the capability to perform an immediate restrike on the same target (or one nearby), if needed.

Image credit: U.S. Air force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson


Analysis: This could be the airfield in Azerbaijan used by the Israeli Air Force to attack Iran

Even if it is not easy to identify the Azeri airbases the Israeli Air Force would use in case of attack on Iran I thought that it might be interesting to select the one that I would pick if I had to plan a complex strike operation.

I consider quite unlikely the possibility that the IAF will use one of the available airfields in Azerbaijan to launch the first strike for the political/diplomatic consequences as well as the risk that any weird activity spotted there would be a clear sign of an imminent strike. Furthermore, the first strike will involve the largest packages and the creation of a sort-of forward operating base from where first attack sorties could be launched would require a prior air bridge, much support personnel, weapons: something difficult, still not impossible, to hide.

Hence, I will select an airport that could be an used as an intermediate stopover on the return leg from the raid and to launch another strike thereafter; let’s consider it as divert field the Israeli fighters could use for refueling or to get technical assistance. In this case, they would not need much things over there: fuel, support personnel and some technical equipment needed to perform maintenance activities on the planes experiencing (minor) failures.

The same airport could be used to host KC-130s for aerial refueling, as well as Combat SAR assets, even though I would base the latter elsewhere, not far from the border and on an improvised airfield (no need for runway, aprons, taxiways, and so on).

I’ve checked all airports in Azerbaijan using Google Earth. Provided the Israeli were given the clearance to use the Azeri airspace and airports, any runway long enough, could be suitable in case of failure with the airbases equipped with arresting cables and safelands obviously preferred.

Some of the Azeri airports considered in the analysis (all screen dumps taken with Google Earth)

Baku Kala

Many reports have pointed to Baku Kala, near the capital, on the Caspian Sea, 330 miles from Tehran. The base hosts Azeri combat choppers and transport aircraft. Bringing cargo planes over there in anticipation of an air strike would disclose the imminent attack. Unlikely.

Baku Kala airbase


Lankaran, in the South, 34 km from the Iranian border, would be the “most obvious” airbase and for this reason any activity on the small runway would be immediately noticed. Unlikely.


Khankendi in the southwest part looks like abandoned. It is located far from any large town under the control of the de facto control of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, has a few aprons and a taxiway (seemingly in very bad conditions) and a runway about 2,000 mt in length. It was due to be opened to commercial traffic but the opening date of the airport was postponed. Provided the security of the air operations could be ensured in the disputed area (de jure recongnized as part of Azerbaijan) this is one of the airfields I’d consider for a special operations/CSAR force also because of the limited implications for Baku.

Another similar airport (with grass runway) is Tanrykulular in the north part of the country (a bit too far from Iran).



Dollyar airbase is among those I consider suitable, the farthest from Tehran (465 miles). However it is a functional airbase, with empty shelters (some of which destroyed…), taxiways, aprons. A lonely Mig-25 can be spotted using Google Earth. Although a bit distant from Iran, it is also quite isolated. The presence of a Mig makes it an active airbase where movements of planes would not be too suspicious. I think this is one of the likely “places”.



Aghstafa has just a runway (in poor conditions), it’s far from Iran and relatively next to a village (and to the border with Georgia): I think this airport can be removed from the “list” of suitable airfields.


Gyanzdah seems to have the proper infrastructures but it is reported to be also a civilian airport opened to the general air traffic. Indeed the main apron has a mini-terminal: the arrival of foreign military cargos would not be unnoticed. I think it’s quite unlikely it would be considered as a suitable airfield.

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