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Book: Iranian F-14 Tomcat Units in Combat
By Tom Cooper & Farzad Bishop
Jul 8, 2004, 08:55

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From the Publisher

So formidable an opponent did the Iraqi airforce consider the F-14 that during the Iran-Iraq war, they ordered their pilots not to engage F-14s and the presence of one in an area was usually enough to empty it of Iraqi aircraft. Officially losses where tiny; only one F-14 was lost in aerial combat (to a MiG-21), one to a control problem and one downed by a ground-to-air missile. This book looks at the F-14ís Iranian combat history and includes first hand accounts from the pilots themselves. It will consider key engagements and the central figures involved, illustrating the realities, successes and failures of the Iranian air campaign.

Review by Peter B. Mersky, USNR (Ret.), in US Combat Naval Aviation News:

PROFESSIONAL READING: Review of Iranian F-14 Tomcats in Combat
Naval Aviation News (Washington) Sep/Oct 2005.Vol.87, Iss. 6; pg. 24

Iranian F-14 Tomcat Units In Combat (Osprey Combat Aircraft) (Paperback)
by Tom Cooper, Farzad Bishop
PROFESSIONAL READING: Review of Iranian F-14 Tomcats in Combat
Naval Aviation News (Washington) Sep/Oct 2005.Vol.87, Iss. 6; pg. 24

Iranian F-14 Tomcat Units In Combat (Osprey Combat Aircraft) (Paperback)
by Tom Cooper, Farzad Bishop
Publisher: Osprey Publishing (UK) (October 15, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN: 1841767875

Undoubtedly one of the more unusual titles in Osprey's highly successful Combat Aircraft series, No. 49 presents a familiar U.S. Navy fighter in an unexpected venue, flying with the green-white-red roundels of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) and desert camouflage.

Before he was overthrown in 1979, the Shah of Iran bought 80 F-14A Tomcats, 79 of which were delivered, together with their AIM-54 Phoenix missiles. The bloody revolution saw many of the "Shah's pilots" thrown into prison. When the long and equally bloody conflict with Iraq began in September 1980, the religious leaders of Iran saw the merit of restoring these highly skilled aviators to the cockpits of these expensive planes. Despite long months of incarceration, most of the returning Tomcat crews of the newly formed IRIAF quickly demonstrated their collective skill and patriotism, eventually taking their F-14s through eight years of intense aerial combat.

Although hard-pressed to maintain their fleet of American-built fighters, Iranian ground crews kept as many as 60 Tomcats mission capable throughout much of the war, despite a lack of parts, normal attrition, and dwindling
supplies of material and munitions. Iranian F-14 crews clashed repeatedly with Iraqi MiGs and French Mirage F-Is as the Iraqis attacked Iranian oil platforms and storage facilities. The fact that many of these highly skilled, aggressive Iranian crews had been in prison after the revolution makes their story all the more remarkable. These crews are responsible for the only kills scored by the highly touted Phoenix missile, which, along with the AWG-9 nose-mounted radar, was at the heart of the F14's weapons system. Throughout the book, the Tomcat's capabilities are highlighted in a way not seen in accounts of U.S. Navy operations and are nearly too much to be believed. Iraqi MiG-21 and MiG-23 pilots didn't stand a chance against the big American swing-wing fighter. The equally large and powerful MiG-25-some flown by Soviet instructor pilots-had to rely on its eye-watering speed to disengage from a flight of IRIAF Tomcats.

IRIAF Tomcats scored the F-14's first kills a full year before the U.S. Navy's Fighter Squadron 41 Libyan MiG killers, and if the book is to be believed, went on to gain more than 150 victories against the Iraqis. According to the list of individual kills in the book's appendices, there appear to be two or three IRIAF F-14 aces, one of whom scored at least nine confirmed kills.

This book's photos and text abound with surprising details and accounts little known in the Western press, which the authors say was sadly misinformed as to the status and operational readiness of the IRIAF's Tomcat fleet. One unfortunately confusing aspect of the text is the authors' assertion that the names of the pilots whose experiences are featured in the text are not their true identities. Thus, as we read about a particular pilot's success or consult the appendices for details on Tomcat kills, we wonder who the Iranian aviator really was. However, I have since learned that the names given in the list of kills are the actual names. A little confusing, but at least we have some idea of these successful crews' identities.

This work is an entertaining look at an air force and arena that have seldom seen any in-depth exposure.

[Author Affiliation]
By Cdr. Peter B. Mersky, USNR (Ret.)

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