All you need to know about the Iranian involvement in the air strikes against ISIS in Iraq.
Al Jazeera footage aired a few days ago exposed an IRIAF F-4 Phantom performing an air strike on ISIS positions in Iraq.
The news of a cooperation between Washington and Tehran, later confirmed by the Pentagon, quickly spread across the world and images of the Iranian Phantoms in the colors of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force have appeared on worldwide media outlets. But the Iranian contribution to the air war on ISIS includes other assets.
An insight into the IRIAF missions in Iraq was provided by Iranian defense expert Babak Taghvaee, a very well known author of several publications about the Iranian air forces and a regular contributor to some of the most read aviation magazines.
Taghvaee summed up the key features about the Iranian air raids in an email to The Aviationist.
– 18th to 20th November, several interdiction sorties were performed by the 2nd and 4th TFB’s F-5s in the Diyala province.
– Between Nov. 20t and Nov. 23 November, the RF-4Es of IRIAF and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) of the IRGC-ASF (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp Aerospace Force) performed recce sorties over Jalula and Saadia.
– Between Nov. 23 and Nov. 30, the F-4Es of the 3rd TFB and 9th TFB performed CAS (Close Air Support) sorties for the Kurdish Peshmerga, Badr militia and Iraqi SpecOps.
– On Dec. 1 and 2, four Su-24MKs performed several combat air patrols and on-call CAS sorties deep inside Iraqi borders.
– On 29th and 30th November, the indigenous Sattar 4 LGBs and GBU-78/A Ghased TV guided bombs were used against the Daesh’s strongholds and heavy trucks successfully for first time in battle zone.
In conclusion, the Kurds and Iraqis retrieved the cities of Jalula and Saadia under fire support of IRIAF.
“The Americans had full coordination with Iranians during the combat sorties of IRIAF,” Taghvee highlighted.
Indeed, although it was theoretically possible for Iranian planes to fly inside Iraq without any coordination with other air forces operating in the same airspace, it would have been suicidal. For proper deconfliction of tactical assets, prior coordination and air space management and control are required.
There are several aircraft performing Airspace Control, Airborne Early Warning over Syria and Iraq: no plane could fly undetected in the area.
Anyway, we can’t but notice that, when called into action, the Iranian air force can conduct real combat missions in a low lethality scenario with a variety of (ageing) tactical planes and UAVs: facts that could fuel a much more credible propaganda than that made of some weird or totally fake claims we have commented in the past.
The missile used in the test was modified so it could not hit its target; however, the QF-16 has a scoring system which tells the ground station how close the missile came and its trajectory.
According to Boeing, “The ground control station sets the coordinates for the missile. Then, using its on board system, the QF-16 validates that the missile hit those coordinates, and detects the distance and speed of the missile. If all the data matches up, the mission is considered a kill.”
LCDR Fred Staudenmayer, who was the first RIO (Radar Intercept Officer) to command an East Coast F-4J operational USN squadron (the VF-33 Tarsiers from Jun. 21, 1973 to Jan. 19, 1974, had several chances to intercept Tu-95s and Tu-16s during his deployment in the Mediterranean sea.
Staudenmayer explained one of these close encounters with Soviet bombers in Peter E. Davies book F-4 Phantoms U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Gray Ghosts:
“I once launched against a Soviet Tu-95 Bear that was almost upon the carrier when initially detected by our pathetic ship’s radar. […] I had the radar operating and detected a huge radar blip at about twelve miles, followed right away by a visual, and we were able to join up on his wing before he passed over the carrier at about 500 ft. This was always the goal and the politically correct thing: be on Bear or Badger’s wing, showing the world that you were escorting these uninvited visitors. […] During a cruise in the Bay of Biscay in USS Independence we had a large number of Soviet over-flights, thirty or forty as I recall, and we intercepted all of them (with assistance from sensors external to the Fleet!).”
Dealing with the attack profile followed by the F-4s during the interception: ”As a general rule, our attack profile started from a low or mid CAP (Combat Air Patrol) station (5,000 or 15,000 ft), and depending on ranges, etc. we would be in climbing attack, usually trying to attack from below. Not too much thought was given to vertical separation, sun position, hiding in the clouds, etc. These were all-weather attack profiles,” Staudenmayer recalled.
The main Bear and Badger weapons were their long range air-to-surface missiles, which caused several concerns to the Phantoms crews according to Staudenmayer:
“As the Soviet air-to-surface missiles got faster and more formidable capable our CAP stations got pushed further and further out. The goal was to be in a position to destroy the targeting or launch aircraft prior to missile release. Nevertheless, we usually trained against descending supersonic missile simulation […] We always thought we had a pretty good capability against such missiles, and an outstanding capability against Bears and Badgers.”
The F-4s belonging to the VF-11 Red Rippers were also involved in many Tu-16 interceptions, and William Greer told to Davies how several of them took place at night:
“Many intercepts were run at night, and the Badger would frequently shine a rather bright and distracting light at the escorting Phantom pilot. VF-11 rigged up a very strong spotlight, powered from the Phantom’s electrical system, and the first time we hit the Badger with that their performance became somewhat more restrained. I once intercepted a Bear while returning from my cruise in USS Enterprise, and with the aid of my two years of Russian at the Naval Academy, some white cards and a grease pencil, exchanged brief notes with the crewman occupying the rear gun sighting position.”
Another U.S. Navy Spook (as the legendary Phantom was dubbed by its personnel) pilot, Steve Rudloff, who experienced several Bear encounters, revealed that despite the tense moments, funny events took place during these interceptions, as happened when one Tu-95 rear gunner offered a bottle of vodka to him: “ On Alert 5 (the high alert condition for crew members on the deck) aircraft for a brief time the back seat was equipped with a copy of Playboy magazine. I took off and intercepted a Bear, and in retaliation for the vodka I flashed the magazine centerfold, getting a hearty smile and a thumbs-up in response. We were always taking pictures of them, and vice versa. We were more than willing to take our oxygen masks off and let them get pictures.”
Moreover as explained by Rudloff, Phantom pilots experienced also chatty times with Soviet aircrews: “There was a point on one of my cruises where we actually spoke to some of Bears crew members. We indicated which frequency we were on and talked to a crew member who spoke English. He told us he lived in Moscow. Suddenly there was some talk in the background in Russian, and the conversation ceased, even though we tried to raise him again.”
Image credit: U.S. Navy via F-4 Phantom II FB page
The traditional military parades at mausoleum of the Late Founder of Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, south of capital Tehran saw the flyover of several warplanes, including the legendary F-14 Tomcat.
On Apr. 18 Iran celebrated the National Army Day with a traditional and interesting flypast of most of its active warplanes. Eight formations for an overall 27 aircraft took part in the aerial parade: not really “massive” as some Iranian media wrote, still an interesting opportunity to see the majority of the IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) fighters and bombers in the air.
The flypast featured F-5F Tiger, F-5E Saeqeh, FT-7N, Mirage F.1EQs, F-14A Tomcat, F-4E Phantom, Mig-29UB Fulcrum and Su-24Mk Fencer divided in 8 formations.
One of the formation was a mixed flight made of a Mig-29UB, an F-4E, an F-14A, a Mirage F.1BQ-3 and a Su-24Mk.
As highlighted by a member of the ACIG.org forum, both Mirage F.1BQ-3s were carrying F-5E/F external fuel tanks thanks to domestically designed and manufactured underwing pylons.
You won’t believe it but U.S. Navy legendary planes (F-4, F-8 and F-14) could fly with folded wings, asymmetric configurations.
To save space aboard the deck of U.S. flattops, aircraft built for carrier operations can fold their wings making room for more planes.
Obviously wings must be extended tbefore catapult launch.
But what happens if the wings aren’t unfolded before take off?
Even if the pictures in this post show aircraft that were safely brought back without any trouble, for sure no aircraft can fly in those configurations.
One case in which the wings were forgotten folded occurred in August 1960, when a US Navy F-8 took off from Naples and climbed to 5,000 feet, when its pilot felt an amount of pressure on the stick: immediately, he started to look around to discover why its Crusader was facing the pressure amount and noticed that the wings were still folded.
Instantly he started to dump as much fuel as possible, and after 24 minutes of flight he was able to come back to Naples, landing safely.
He said that his Crusader faced no serious problems during the unusual kind of flight and the landing had been very fast but uneventful.
At least seven more times F-8s took off with wings folded, in several occasions at night, but without any mishap, proving Crusader strength and revealing the great job done by Vought engineers.
Six years later was the turn of an F-4B (BuNo. 152327) aircrew belonging to VF-14 Tophatters to experience a “wings folded” flight: in fact, on May 10, 1966, LT JG Greg Scwalber and his RIO (Radar Intercept Officer) Bill Wood were launched from USS Roosevelt (CVA-42) and once airborne they discovered that their Phantom II was flying with outboard wings folded.
They immediately understood that the locking mechanism was not properly set before launch. They quickly dumped all external stores, dropped the flaps and after declaring an emergency they diverted to the nearest airport that was Navy airfield in Cuba.
After 59 miles of flight Scwalber and Wood were able to made a successful arrested landing at a speed of 170-180 knots. As happened with the Crusader the F-4B BuNo 152327 returned into service few days later.
At least one Air Force crew had the chance to experience this strange kind of flight with their F-4, but the Rhino revealed to be a very robust airframe and it always brought its aircrew back home even without its wings fully opened.
The last impressive picture depicts the third F-14 prototype (BuNo 157982) with its wings swept asymmetrically: with the starboard wing locked fully forward and the port wing swept fully aft.
To reduce deck spotting area its wings could be “overswept” to 75°, eliminating the need for the folding mechanism of the wings. However in this photo the wings position is the result of tests undertaken to explore how the Tomcat could return back to the carrier with this asymmetric configuration.
Six flights were made between Dec. 19 1985 and Feb. 28, 1986 in this unusual configuration and landings were conducted with the aft-swept wing at up to 60°. These trials were conducted after four fleet aircraft found themselves in this difficult situation.