Bombed by Blinders In the 1950s the Soviet Union was struggling to build a strategic air arm comparable with

the immense and powerful US Strategic Air Command. The high pace of technological and an intelligence development was such that it often caused work on replacements to begin even before the original aircraft had been accepted into service. Such was also the case with the type that later became known as the Tupolev Tu-22. Intended as a supersonic bomber for use against targets too well-defended for the Tu-16 Badger, this sleek and handsomelooking aircraft, capable of dashes at speeds over Mach 1, eventually saw its share of combat. Instead of being used against high-value NATO targets in the central Europe, carrying nuclear weapons, the Blinder was used extensively during a number of “local” wars in Africa and the Middle East, and most of the details about its combat service remain completely unknown – if not ignored. Development In the early years of the “Cold War”, the USSR anxiously tried to close the “bomber gap” with SAC. Although Western observers tended to believe that the USSR had numerical superiority in the field of nuclear bombers, the reality was completely different. While the SAC was capable of launching a massive attack, sending thousands of bombers to hit Soviet cities and military bases with nuclear bombs from many places around the globe, the Soviets lacked even a single bomber that could attack any targets in the continental US (CONUS) and return to the USSR. Consequently, there was a lot of pressure on the design bureaus to come up with corresponding aircraft, capable of carrying nuclear weapons and striking targets thousands of kilometers away from Soviet soil, as the only long-range bomber the Soviets had in service in the early 1950s was Tu-4 Bull, a reverse-engineered version of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. Pushing this design to its limits, and equipping it with different types of engines, the Tupolev OKB eventually fielded the Tu-16 intermediate-range jet bomber (designated Badger by the Air Standards Coordinating Committee – ASCC), and then the turboprop Tu-95 Bear. Even before these two types entered service, it became clear that they would be very vulnerable against modern supersonic interceptors. Thus, in 1955 the Tupolev staff started working on “Project 105” with the code-letter „Yu,‟ the 32nd letter of the Cyrillic alphabet. To keep the design of the airframe and the wings as clean as possible so that the aircraft could cruise at high speeds, it was decided to mount the two Dobryinin VD-7M turbojets at the base of the vertical tail, in separate nacelles, over the fuselage. Such an unorthodox arrangement would also reduce the effects of asymmetric thrust if one of the engines should fail. Influenced by the “Project 103,” the fuselage was based on the Tu-16 while a new wing with 52 degrees sweep was planned. A prototype, as such, flew on June 21, 1958, but it was not capable of supersonic flight. To solve this problem, the aircraft was completely redesigned, and a new “Project 105A” came into being, with the main difference being an area-ruled fuselage - that suffered less from transonic drag - and a new wing swept at 55 degrees. Since there was now insufficient room in the fuselage, the main undercarriage was moved into large fairings mounted on the wings. The 105A complied with specifications outlined by the military, having a maximum weapons load of 12,000kg on short range missions or 3,000kg with maximum internal fuel. Its major improvement over the Tu-16 however, was the capability of supersonic speeds over shorter

distances, which made it less vulnerable to defenses in the target area. Although the loss of the second prototype caused another re-design – this time the tail plane – ten pre-series aircraft were built to 105A standard at State Aircraft Factory 22 in Kazan. Intended solely for evaluation, these Tu-22Bs (Blinder-As) did not yet carry any of the specific missionequipment of the later full-production versions, but all ten made the type‟s public debut at the Tushino Airshow in July 1961. This caused considerable confusion in the West, where observers immediately concluded that the type must already be in large-scale service. During the early phases of the Tu-22‟s development it was decided to build four specific versions. First to enter service was the Tu-22R (“R” for “Razviedchik” or reconnaissance). The Tu-22R was basically similar to the “Project-105” and although mainly tasked with reconnaissance, it was also equipped with Rubin-1 bombing radar and was capable of conventional bombing. During production, more powerful RD-7M2 engines with 500kg of extra thrust were installed, which were subsequently retrofitted to older Tu-22Rs. Beginning in 1962, most newly-built examples received refueling probes, mounted on the nose, and their designation was changed from Tu-22R to Tu-22RD (“D” for “Dalnevo dieistviya” or long-range). Older examples got similar probes from 1965, and during the 1980s, some were upgraded with either the Koob sideways-looking radar – becoming Tu-22RDKs – or with a more advanced recon suite, becoming Tu-22RDMs. No less than 150 Tu-22R and RDs were built, making this version the most numerous produced at Kazan. In order to provide a suitable training aircraft, the TU-22U (“U” for “Uchiebny” or training) was developed, on which the navigator‟s seat was replaced by a raised second cockpit to provide room for an instructor. Subsequently, all Tu-22Ds were fitted with refueling probes and became Tu-22UDs. Both versions received Western designation Blinder-D. The next version – the Tu-22K, later Tu-22KD (Blinder-B) was developed as a missilecarrier armed with the powerful Raduga Kh-22 (AS-4 Kitchen) air-to-surface missile and easily recognizable by the enlarged radome for the Rubin-PN radar. Each of 70 Tu-22K and KDs produced could carry either one Kh-22 semi-recessed under the fuselage, or two on wing-hardpoints. In total some 700 Kh-22 missiles were manufactured during the 1960s, and additional - considerably upgraded - versions were built in the 1970s and 1980s. The final production version of the Blinder was equipped for electronic warfare, and designated Tu-22P (“P” for “Pomekh” or jammer) Blinder-E.

How it all began - two Tu-16PPs belonging to Soviet Naval Aviation, but in full Libyan markings and officially assigned to the 1110th Sqn - at the time manned by Soviet personnel - which had six Badgers on strength until these were replaced by Tu-22Bs. This unit stationed in Libya replaced the aircraft and personnel of the 90 ODRAE, equipped with six Tu-16Rs and stationed in Egypt in the late 1960s and early 1970s. (US DOD, via authors) Export Versions Initially, it seemed as if the Tu-22 was likely to serve a rather unglamorous career with Soviet Long-Range and Naval Aviation, seeing no action except for exercises and overflights

of NATO shipping. The prospects changed in 1973, however, when both Libya and Iraq were each allowed to purchase a few Blinders. The Soviets were reluctant to deliver any capable offensive weapon system to the Arab nations: they were monitoring the Arab-Israeli conflict purely from the standpoint of the “Cold War” against the US, and were not interested in empowering the Arabs to fight conflicts that could end in direct confrontation with the US. Therefore, they repeatedly failed to meet the Arabs‟ demands for complex weapons systems. The Arabs, however had no interest in the “Cold War”, but wanted to be able to confront Israel, and were purchasing arms wherever they could. Had any Western power looked likely to supply the required weapons instead of the USSR, the Arabs would have been only too pleased, but, during the 1960s, there was no such country. In the early 1970s, France started delivering modern arms to different Arab nations, and – especially after the ArabIsraeli War in 1973, the Libyans developed a two-fold strategy of a simultaneous cooperation with France and the USSR, which enabled them to acquire large quantities of arms within a relatively short period. The Libyan strategy was relatively simple: if the French would not deliver the requested weapons, Tripoli would turn to the Soviets, and viceversa. Iraq was soon to develop a similar strategy, except that it took several years longer for the French to start supplying it with aircraft.

A beautiful study of a Libyan Tu-22B intercepted by F-4N Phantoms from VF-51 and VF-111 (at the time with CVW-19 aboard USS F.D. Roosevelt, CV-42), underway in the Mediterranean on 24 November 1976. (USN photo, via authors) Libya and Iraq were preparing to play a much bigger role in the next war against Israel. Both countries, however, are relatively distant from Israel, and as there was no chance of getting more powerful Mirage IV medium range bombers, they turned to the Soviets for an equivalent. Given that Libya and Iraq were rich enough to afford the acquisition and operation of larger and more complex aircraft and the Iraqis were already operating a squadron each of Tu-16 and Ilyushin Il-28 Beagle bombers since 1960, the Soviets were tempted to deliver. The USSR‟s decision was reinforced by the cooling of relations with Egypt as well as the experiences of the October War, in 1973. The Iraqis and Libyans felt they needed an aircraft with the capabilities of the Tu-22, as during the October War it became apparent that only by uniting the armies of several Arab

The Tu-22 would make the Iraqi Air Force (IrAF) and the Libyan Arab Republic Air Force (LARAF) capable of attacking Israel at high speeds and levels. after flying directly from their respective bases. . No significant degradation of Israeli military capabilities was possible without striking targets inside Israel. Iraq and Libya each ordered 14 Tu-22Bs and two Tu-22Us. The Blinders destined for delivery to Iraq and Libya were designated Tu-22Bs. (USN photo. This decision was to considerably influence the operational use of the type by both air forces. thunder at high speed and altitude over Israel to deliver their bomb loads. in Egypt or Syria. to be supplied in two batches. as well as with the 147th TsBPiPLS School. This way there was no need to make relatively slow deployments of tactical aircraft to bases closer to the front. and attack Israel again on the return flight. This version was in reality a RD7-M2-powered Tu-22RD. taken by US Navy pilots shadowing the bombers on their delivery flight. Shot from a series of photographs showing a pair of Libyan "Blinders". with reconnaissance equipment removed. which then positioned valuable assets within the striking range of the Israeli Air Force. and then continue for a landing in Libya: once there. whether that was by manned interceptors or MIM-23 HAWK SAMs. at Savostleyka AB. such operations would leave the Israelis with only a minimal chance of a successful interception. Besides. Also. the Iraqi regime had started developing nuclear weapons. starting in late 1973. The aircraft would – for example – start from Iraq. via authors) Iraqi and Libyan pilots were trained in several phases and places – at Zyabrovka Air Base (AB). they would refuel and re-arm. Notice the absence of serials. as had been necessary in 1973.countries would they be capable of fully matching Israel‟s military power. and consequently a carrier platform – as well as experienced crews – was needed.

namely. Mohammad Kabalan. but were passed for political reasons. and that their execution of combat operations would always be driven more by self-preservation than the task at hand. and director of both the Iraqi and Libyan ground-crew technical and maintenance training. S. as seen from USN Phantoms in November 1976. Captains Sa‟d Mekkawi. Such conclusions. (USN photo. a veteran of the Soviets‟ Tu-22 operational evaluation. The Libyan pilots were also the most experienced available. Proskurin. and were the first to get intensive training before helping to instruct additional personnel. via authors) First Combat Missions It could be said that the Iraqi Tu-22Bs got the doubtful honor of flying the first combat operations for this type. Their training was supervised by Gen. who became the commander of Libyan Tu-22 operations. Shukshin.” complained about the lack of aggressiveness displayed during training. All had previous experience with Tu-16s and Il-28s. leading most of the combat sorties flown by their units. Right from the start Soviet instructors were less than impressed with the performance of Iraqi and Libyan Tu-22 pilots: they rated most of them only as “fair. V.serviceability. an enterprise that eventually led to a direct confrontation with Imperial Iran. and Lt. In 1974 the Iraqi regime was in the middle of an intensive campaign against the Kurdish guerrillas in north of the country. Gen. Through early 1974. A pair of early Libyan Tu-22Bs. the IrAF . V. who became commander in charge of the Iraqi and Libyan Tu-22 flight and combat training programs. however. and Lt. and Jihad Hammoud. that Arab Tu-22 operations were about to suffer foremost from exactly the same problems that dogged Soviet units equipped with the type . Captain Akil Za‟tari. and – just like their Iraqi counterparts – they were later to become top squadron and wing commanders. were only partially correct: as time was about to show. and also complained that their students did not master tactical weapons delivery methods. undertaken at Ryazan. The first three Libyan pilots were led by Colonel Masun Mathelon.The first Iraqi pilots trained on Tu-22s were Major Amir Hamawi (who was later to become the commander of the first Iraqi Tu-22 squadron and director of Iraqi Tu-22 operations). Their conclusion was that Iraqi and Libyan Tu-22 crews would be barely capable of executing even short duration missions.

and found out that these came from stocks captured by Israeli forces during the 1973 War). Two Soviet-flown Iraqi Tu-22Bs were especially active on the nights of September 27 and 28. in turn decreasing accuracy and effectiveness. Additionally. prone to malfunctions. Iranian military personnel started firing at IrAF fighters and bombers .000ft (12. the Imperial Iranian Armed Services (IIAS) moved a contingent of troops – supported by two MIM-23 HAWK and several Rapier SAM batteries – into Iraq.within a matter of days. Iranian military intelligence recorded several communications in Russian. and HQs at the foot of Haaj-Omran Mountains. This caused one of major controversies between Iraq and the Soviet Union at the time. a nine ton bomb which had significant effects on material and men – on the latter both physically and psychologically. These first strikes were not especially precise: most of the bombs fell kilometers away from aim-points. Ustimenko. 14 Iraqi aircraft had been shot down by HAWKs. exceptionally problematic to maintain. as they only possessed rusty WWII vintage anti-aircraft guns. the Iranians limited their activities to intercepting Iraqi communications: which is how they identified the presence of Tu-22s in Iraq. G. Initially.frequently bombed Kurdish villages and communications. Tu-22s proved dangerous to fly. and learned that they were flown by Soviets. This mission also saw the first combat usage of the huge FAB-9000. and later disclosed – through Iraqi Kurds – the names of some of the Soviet officers that had flown IrAF Blinders. including at least one Tu-16 and several Su-7s. The first combat sorties flown by Iraqi Blinders appear to have occurred already in January 1974. Several missions were also flown on subsequent nights.000m). This time the Tu-22s were held back – or were in need of maintenance – and subsequently the regime in Baghdad was swift to accept negotiations with Tehran. At the time. against a Kurdish insurgent camp near Qal‟at Dizah. all at altitudes over 40. Vladimir Bumagin. The sortie rates suffered accordingly. and the weapons-systems operators needed great skill – and a considerable amount of luck – to place their bombs precisely on target. A few weeks later. The IrAF continued using intensively these bombs so that only three out of the first batch delivered remained in stock by April 1975 – and the Soviets refused to supply more. mediated through Algeria that resulted in the so-called “Algiers Treaty. The Iranians also supplied the insurgents with Soviet-made SA-7s (from Israel. the USSR already had liaison officers attached to the Tu-22 program in Baghdad and Tripoli. this was confirmed when Iraqi intelligence captured several dozens of these missiles later in 1975. The Kurds had no defence against Tu-22Bs. and Col. Consequently Iraqi planes had to operate at higher levels. barely effective against low-flying aircraft. and the Iraqis felt vindicated in their decision to purchase the Blinder once the Iranians got involved. and the only target hit was the so-called Hamilton Road bridge. But the situation was soon to change. however. via Iran. . when they bombed the Kurdish positions at the Amrara Pass. Both are known to have flown combat missions with Blinders with or for the respective air forces. from the start of their service in Iraq. the Soviets had to fly the new bombers themselves. respectively.” The first combat use of the Tu-22Bs came to an end before it had properly started: it is still not known if the Soviets and the Iraqis gleaned any important lessons from this episode. and so it did not take long until the brand-new bombers were put to use. Disguised in Kurdish civilian clothes. As no Iraqi crews were fully qualified on the type. namely Major Y.

Although two more were delivered in the following year. In most other regimes. the Tu-22Bs and Us were operated by the 7th Squadron of the 4th Composite Bomber Wing.” based at the al-Walid Air Base. persistent problems with handling. as the Soviet crews were getting their first taste of combat flying Iraqi Tu-22Bs into missions against Kurds. An engine malfunction at supersonic speed could result in a total failure of the airframe. showing the typical camouflage of the Iraqi Blinders. which would otherwise have been lost in bad landings. malfunction-prone avionics and engines. they appreciated the huge wing-fences that helped reduce induced drag. throttles had to be set manually to the neutral position. resulting in pilots learning fast that the breaking chute was vital to a safe landing. Iraqi crews were pretty negative in their views of the type: the “Supersonic Twin” – as the Blinder was nicknamed by Iraqi pilots – was a handful to fly and maintain. Nevertheless. it was difficult for a single pilot to fly it at high speeds. throttle handling had to be very precise and any distraction or failure to pay attention to the settings during flight would lead to an emergency situation due to engine mishap. and it was only in 1978 that the last of the first ten Tu-22Bs and two Us arrived in Iraq. for example. and the highly swept wings enabled very smooth handling at high speeds. Before selecting afterburner. Initially. and it soon became notorious because of its very high landing speeds. Within the IrAF. the so-called “Strategic Brigade. But. and the ejection seats of the co-pilot and navigator fired downwards (only the pilot‟s ejection seat fired upwards on the Tu-22B). (artwork by Tom Cooper) Supersonic Twin In late 1974 and early 1975. Former Iraqi Blinder pilots reported that this skid saved a considerable number of bombers and crews. The recommended landing speed was 310km/h (192mph). and complex maintenance seldom resulted in any more than seven or eight Blinders being operational in Iraq at any given time (which in turn was the main reason for confused reporting about the exact number of delivered examples). To begin with. Due to the length of the Blinder‟s fuselage and its relatively high angle-of-attack during landing. two Iraqi . The loss or malfunction of the chute would mean the loss of aircraft – and the crew – as there was no way of stopping the aircraft in time using just the brakes.Iraqi Air Force Tu-22B serial 1111. a tail-skid was installed under the rear fuselage. the first fully-qualified Iraqi crews started to return from their training in the USSR. The pilots were impressed by the speed and power of the aircraft. the deliveries were relatively slow. The RD7-M2s were also causing continual problems and pilots had to learn to pay careful attention to throttle settings. in western Iraq (better known in the West as “H-3” after a nearby pumping station supporting the oil-pipeline from northern Iraq into Jordan). where huge underground bunkers were built for their protection.

MiG-25s. Nevertheless. and if anybody was working on Libyan Blinders. which did not help to ease operations. then it was the Soviets – who also piloted the aircraft during the very small number of sorties undertaken in the late 1970s. serviceability slowly improved. their operational tempo was very low. one crashed during landing after the forward strut of the landing gear collapsed at high speed. they were never able to carry the maximum designed weapons load. and was still in the middle of the process of acquiring huge numbers of MiG-23s. East Germans. i. on average only one or two examples were ever operational. The reason: the Soviets had deleted in-flight refueling probes (IFRs) from the aircraft before delivery. they usually stayed fairly close to their bases. it was not long before the Blinders of the 1110th Squadron were . who undertook missions by day or night on a fairly regular basis. almost chaotic. the main maintenance center and the stocks of spares were positioned at Ghadames AB. and the 1120th at Okba Ibn-Nafi AB. and even some Pakistanis. and maintained two Blinders on permanent alert status at al-Jufra/Hun AB. and Su-20/22s. By 1979. Syrians. when all 14 Tu-22Bs and two Tu-22Us ordered by Tripoli had been delivered. in 1977. and no night-time missions were flown. which experienced a period of massive growth in the early 1970s. the Tu-22 was to prove a versatile design. These were more commonly known as the “First Bomber Squadron” and the “Second Bomber Squadron. The 1110th became the main operational Tu-22 unit within the LARAF. the Soviets had taught the Iraqi pilots the supersonic toss-bombing technique. another example was lost in 1978 due to pilot-error during take-off. the Tu-22Bs in Iraqi service were very limited in range and payload. The maintenance proficiency and tactical organization were poor or. In combat. Under the African Sun Meanwhile. Soviets. the rest were kept in open storage or were unserviceable most of the time. and the capability to maintain and fly complex Blinders. but was only a training unit. which for the first time enabled the IrAF to fly useful reconnaissance and maritime-strike sorties over the Persian Gulf.” respectively. but were instead usually armed with between four and 12 FAB-500 bombs. Consequently. the situation with Libyan Tu-22Bs had worsened: the LARAF. and refused to supply any tankers to Iraq. When the Libyan Tu-22 pilots of the Second Bomber Squadron were flying. Aside from such problems. both for reasons similar to those that had also caused the loss of no less than 70 Soviet Blinders by 1975. Despite the situation. The 1110th was based at alJufra/Hun AB. some would say.e. and there was no remedy for this problem. and a third example was damaged beyond repair by fire during engine run-up before the take off.Tu-22Bs were lost in crashes. The 1120th – which operated both Tu-22Us – was mainly Libyan-manned. and its aircraft mainly provided a source of spares for the First Bomber Squadron. Two years after the first Tu-22s arrived in Libya. which was to prove invaluable when they wanted to avoid entering the enemy defensive envelopes surrounding their future targets. The First Bomber Squadron was largely maintained and flown by non-Libyan crews. However. Also. LARAF created two units with the type. the 1110th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron – the unit that had been operating six “Libyan” (actually Soviet Naval Air Arm) bomber-reconnaissance aircraft Tu-16PP since the early 1970s – and the 1120th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron. IrAF Blinder crews and their High Command were also very disappointed by the lack of range (even if Tu-22 had the best range of all the combat aircraft in the whole Iraqi Air Force) – especially at lower altitudes (as well as the very hard ride at low levels). Nevertheless. simply lacked enough experienced crews. In 1976.

which remain in use today. (USN photos.involved in their first combat missions. This improved relations between Uganda and Libya and secured Amin‟s rule to such an extent that he declared Uganda an “Islamic Republic”. and Colonel Ghaddafi swiftly dispatched up to 3. in July 1977. original Libyan markings were changed to simple green "fields" . five Lockheed C-130H Hercules transports and – apparently – several Mirage 5Ds to Entebbe. most of Amin‟s enemies concentrated in Tanzania. Ugandan and Libyan troops managed to drive the rebels back into Tanzania. Although not in color. armed and prepared for an invasion of Uganda. as seen from USN Phantoms in November 1976.000 troops. and immediately began a campaign of terror against Ugandans of Asiatic origin. Their first such operation. as the dictator had asked Libya for help. . via authors) Poor Show for Idi Amin The infamous Ugandan tyrant came to power during a British-supported coup in 1971. The presence of Libyan troops and aircraft was felt immediately. His brutal and bloody rule caused many of his opponents to flee to Tanzania. with a new offensive against Uganda taking shape. On 20 September 1972. where they were organized. when Libya offered its support to the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Dada. the Ugandan Army launched a counteroffensive. in southern Uganda. was doomed to failure. however. Again. After the short war with Egypt. 1972. with the main aim being to topple Idi Amin. with the MiG-17s and MiG-21s of the Ugandan Army Air Force – as well as Libyan Mirages – flying a series of strikes against different objectives in Tanzanian cities of Bukoba and Mwanza. undertaken on September 17. Subsequently. this photograph reveal additional details of the camouflage pattern worn by early Libyan Tu-22Bs. where the National Liberation Front (NLF) was organized and armed.applied to the same position as seen here .

the bomber dropped 20 FAB-250 bombs. another Ugandan fighter was lost while attacking a bridge near Kyaka. By this time. Amin learned about these plans and in October 1978 ordered a pre-emptive attack against Tanzania. By late May 1979. however. airfields at Gulu and Nakasangola had been captured as well. the Libyan garrison at Entebbe was effectively under siege. Jinja and Tororo which damaged the morale of Ugandan troops more than anything else (contrary to other reporting. with the main task of putting an end to Idi Amin‟s rule. By November. one of these two aircraft flew the first – and only combat sortie – undertaken by the type during that conflict. However.000 civilians were massacred. In retaliation. On 3 June 1979. up to 10. Ghaddafi swiftly dispatched two Tu-22Bs of the 1110th Squadron LARAF under command of Col. two or three MiG-17s and several MiG-21s were captured intact and taken to Tanzania as war booty. north of Kampala. the first Ugandan MiG-17 was shot down by an SA-7 near Bukoba. and subsequently. The presence of the Libyan forces and aircraft could not prevent the Tanzanian troops from overrunning Uganda. where up to 8. In a shabby bullying attempt at “power projection” aimed at Tanzanians. Start of the Long War On 22 September 1980. the small but well trained Tanzanian Defence Forces were mobilized. and the remnants of Amin‟s army were forced to capitulate. By late March. and by late December 1978. and the Ugandan Army was on the verge of total collapse.crossed the border and started an advance deep into Uganda. while four irreparable MiG-21s were dumped at a local scrap yard. and on 7 April 1979. the Tanzanians tightened their grip on Entebbe.000 Tanzanian troops .supported by Chinese-supplied T-59A tanks and MiG-21MF fighters . Libyan Blinder fleet only flew one combat operation. The onslaught was spearheaded by a series of strikes against Bukoba from 10 October onward. and this saw extensive service . however.However. On the early morning of 1 April 1979. the Tanzanian AF reacted with a series of strikes flown by MiG-21MFs against Kampala. Nevertheless. the Iraqi Air Force had the largest bomber fleet in the entire Middle East. all Ugandan troops were expelled from Tanzania. to Nakasangola airfield. That still did not end the fighting. as during the 1980s both Libyan and Iraqi Tu-22s saw much more action and far more serious combat. Subsequently. as a sort of peace-enforcing operation. In a vain attempt to save the situation. Ugandan troops managed to cross the border and occupy the town of Kyaka. and fled aboard an LARAF C-130H to Saudi Arabia. and all Ugandan MiG-17s and MiG-21s found there were by the time either destroyed or captured by the Tanzanians: two MiG-17s and a single MiG-21MF were already shot down. flown by Ugandan MiG-17s and MiG-21s. but missed completely. the situation was soon to change. starting a bloody war with a powerful – but largely ineffective – counter-air offensive against IRIAF airfields. On 20 January 1979. Within a week. Iraq invaded Iran. During the conflict around Lake Victoria. Tanzania had not received any J-6s or J-7s at that time). Idi Amin immediately resigned. On 28 October 1978. Mathelon. and thousands of others forced to flee. aiming for Mwanza. intended as a “show of strength” . a C-130H (s/n 116) was shot down by an RPG-7 round as it took off from that airfield. and the resistance started to intensify.the bombs missed their target and the whole “show” failed to impress the Tanzanians at all. and so Libya started to evacuate its troops. the Tanzanians had stopped the Ugandan advance. which was later captured by Tanzanian troops. Tanzanian troops reached the Sudanese border. because in early January 1979 Tanzanians launched a single offensive into Uganda. most of which were ineffective.

CO of the 4th Composite Bomber Wing. but more about this later. piloted by Capt. they also carried heavier payloads. All of the bombs missed the target. which tracked any deployment of these bombers from their main bases at H-3 Northwest and H-3 al-Wallid. for his “achievement” in this operation. on 22 September 1980. Hamawi. In general. this was flown in to Mehrabad aboard the same Soviet transport aircraft that – only a few days earlier – had delivered shipments of spare parts for MiGs and Sukhois to Iraq! Another Tu-22 strike on the first day of the war was also flown by a single Blinder. but they did kill several Pasdarans (IRGC members) stationed nearby. and due to their longer endurance they were able to dash away at higher speeds if there was a threat from IRIAF interceptors. and had hit several other important fuel depots. was not meant to be a copy of the Israeli strikes from the Six Day War.1). Of course. One of the small numbers of effective strikes during the initial Iraqi onslaught against Iran. Col. All the Iraqi bombers were concentrated within the 4th Composite Bomber Wing. which amounted for just a six or seven days‟ fuel supply for Iranian fighters. Compared with smaller MiG-23BNs.from the first day of the war. amazingly. even though it‟s military impact remained small. largely destroying the depot. A solitary Tu-22B of the 7th Sqn attacked the above-ground fuel storage depot on the military side of Mehrabad airport – the IRIAF‟s “Tactical Fighter Base 1” (TFB. and leaving only the emergency underground fuel tanks intact. All six bombs found their mark. thus causing a shortage of kerosene and aviation fuel in the country. Both units were still heavily dependent on Soviet personnel for support and maintenance. as the Iraqis had also embarked on an intensive campaign against Iranian oil refineries in Khuzestan. Mokfi. This dealt a severe blow to the IRIAF. in agreement with the High Command of the IrAF. It seems that the US – interested in the demise of the Iranian clerical regime – supplied the “blue-prints” of the Iranian early warning radar net to Baghdad. as attrition replacements). the US and Israel. decided to use only Tu-22Bs for similar missions – for example against the automotive industrial targets in the Tehran area. Nevertheless. This helped the Iraqis to use the gaps in Iranian radar coverage to penetrate deep into the Iranian airspace without being disturbed before dropping their bomb loads – except by point defenses. Blinders could attack while flying at higher speeds. while the 8th Bomber Squadron had eight Tupolev Tu-16 and 11 or 12 Ilyushin Il-28 bombers (Iraqis later received several additional Tu-16s and Il-28s from Egypt. and considerable problems and losses experienced by the MiG-23BN fleet. and – due to their strategic reach – they were carefully monitored by Iran. where they would usually be parked deep in their underground reinforced bunkers. half of the available aircraft were operational at any given time – even if there were periods when not a single bomber could take off. After the partial success of these first Blinder strikes deep into Iran. tanker and transport aircraft based there. against the Iranian Kerendi early warning radar station. Tu-22s were still operated by the 7th Bomber Squadron. instead it was intended to “deliver the message” of what the Iraqis could do to Iran. Mokfi was decorated with the “Saddam Star” medal for heroism: most likely. . which made them less vulnerable to Iranian SAMs. This went so far that the Iranians were finally forced to import kerosene from the USSR. it was the connections the good captain had straight into the top of the Iraqi regime that won him this high decoration.

Based on what had been recovered from one of the USAF B-47 Stratojets the Soviets have shot down somewhere along or over their borders in the 1950s and 1960s. is surrounded by ecstatic Iraqi airmen greeting the crew. near Tehran in Iran. Note the heavy wear and tear of the camouflage colors caused by sun. even if the aircraft had been crewed by Soviets. the two Iranian crews looked on frustratingly at the Iraqi bombers and continued on their way. The problem was that of the weapons aiming system. The Tu-22B that had just landed after bombing the fuel depot at Mehrabad AB. sand and spilled fuel and lubricants. the Iranian interceptors would either manage to approach Iraqi bombers. two F-4Es returning from a strike against an airfield in Iraq had a close encounter with two IrAF Il-28s that were bombing Pasdaran positions near Panjwin. The final result and the precision of such attacks depended largely on luck: time and again. on 26 September. the PSB-11 optical sighting system of the Tu-22B was never satisfactory. or pass near them while en route to another task. With barely enough fuel in their tanks to get home. late afternoon of 22 September 1980. For example. and was prone to malfunction and very complicated to use. (authors' collection) The 7th Squadron IrAF flew the next strike – against the “Iran National” and former “American Motors of Iran” car factories – on 25 September.Scene from H-3 SW AB. This fact helped many Iraqi bombers and their crews to survive the first days of . but their bombs missed the targets by about two kilometers. The battlefield over which this war was fought was simply too large for both air forces to be everywhere at every given moment. but they lacked the fuel and weapons to engage.

IRIAF pilots were determined to destroy these aircraft whenever possible. Apparently that particular Tu-22B managed to clear the Iranian airspace and land safely in Iraq. As the Phantoms climbed towards the Tupolevs. Actually. The only reasons for one.or two-day long breaks in their operations were IRIAF strikes against Iraqi airfields. as well as the bad weather that occurred in the area during late September and early October 1980. but this time the bombers were escorted by several MiG-23s. targeting all airfields in Iraq where Tu-22s could be serviced. the Iraqis did not “evacuate” their aircraft into Yemen or Saudi Arabia: such rumors were started by Baghdad in order to prevent the IRIAF hunting for the 4th Composite Bomber Wing‟s aircraft all over Iraq – particularly.the Iraqi bomber immediately increased its speed and deployed chaff. Most of the bombs missed their . Two F-4Es were scrambled to intercept. as well as the Iranian helicopter complex in the north-eastern corner. neither of two bombers reached Mehrabad at all that day. Capt. the Blinders of the 7th BS returned to hit automotive factories near Tehran. One bombed the Rey oil refinery. Haji. firing some ten SA-2s . and again in the afternoon. killing four workers and injuring 65.they finally hit the Phantom while at a very high level. so that the missile exploded some distance away.the war and fight another day. they entered the envelope of an SA-2 SAM site of the II Iraqi Army Corps. which were considered beyond Iran‟s reach. In turn. on 6 October. south of the capital. On 28 September. killing three construction workers. where facilities belonging to the Iranian Aircraft Industries (IACI) are positioned. died instantly . but then the nearby IRIAF MIM-23B SAM site opened fire in response . 1st Lt. or even re-strike targets they had missed on previous missions. flying low between the mountains. Amiri and his weapons system operator. this time hitting both.the IRIAF lost a brave crew because they had been so determined to get an Iraqi Tu-16 that they ignored the more imminent danger. IrAF bombers continued flying regular sorties against Iran –so often that they could never have been based outside Iraq. the IRIAF started an intensive counter-air campaign. as immediately upon the start of the war and first Tu-16 and Tu-22 strikes against targets in Iran. Shortly after. again against TFB. The next strike flown by the 7th IrAF BS was again undertaken three days later. S. only damaging the wing. and targeted the north-western section of the Mehrabad complex. It was so effective that the IrAF was forced to pull back its bombers to airfields in western Iraq. M. lasted for the whole first week of the war. Certainly. The air defence units of this Corps were considered the most aggressive and best-trained in the whole Iraqi military. and away from their maintenance centers. Three Tu-22s penetrated the outer ring of Iranian defenses flying at a low level. in fact. This usually involved between 120 and 140 aircraft in a single wave. The first of these was undertaken by two Tu-22Bs that approached Tehran around 15:35 hrs undetected. the Iraqis claimed that during this attack their other bomber destroyed two Boeing 747s and several other transport planes parked on the ramp at Mehrabad. exploding it in the air and achieving one of only five kills scored by this weapon during the whole war. Amiri. two high-flying Tu-16 bombers were detected by Iranian early warning radars as they were approaching the border city of Mehran. But. led by Capt. Intensifying campaign In response. Iran National and American Motors.1. and they proved why. new strikes are known to have been flown by IrAF Tu-22Bs (and Tu-16s) on the afternoon of 3 October. Contrary to what is usually reported.

Detecting the approaching Iranian interceptor on their radar warning receivers (RWRs) the crews of the two Iraqi bombers had to abort their sortie after launching only one KSR-2 (AS-5 Kelt) missile towards the City of Dezful. and then crashed into the Bibi-Shahrbanu Mountains south of the Iranian capital.they landed near a local cemetery and were captured soon after. the Tu-22s of the 7th Sqn IrAF remained largely ineffective.it separated from the three-ship formation. On the other side. In total. and then escaped back over the border. One Tu-22B was hit while clearing the target . all three crewmembers survived . The Blinders faced heavy anti-aircraft fire as they dropped the rest of their bombs. overlooking Tehran. sometimes in conjunction with Tu-22s. (artwork by Tom Cooper) By now. the air defenses were ready. on 21 October two Tu-22Bs of the 7th BS tried to hit the IRIAF‟s early warning radar station near Karaj. towards the Rey oil refinery. Iraqi Air Force Tu-16 serial 566. In order to increase the safety of their attacks. At the time the IRIAF was putting several F-4 formations over Baghdad on a daily basis. the formation then turned southeast. Badgers were also used intensively during the war with Iran. They thundered past so low that rooftop anti-aircraft guns were unable to fire at them without hitting other high-rise buildings and civilians.missile and shot it down using an AIM-7E-2 Sparrow. both Iraqi bombers reportedly strafed streets with their 23mm NR-23 tail guns. when an F-4E was scrambled to intercept two Tu-16s that penetrated the Iranian airspace west of Dezful. Despite ejecting at a low level. The IRIAF Phantom pilots had their next encounter with Iraqi bombers on 12 October 1980. The Phantom arrived too late to intercept the Tu-16s. In the aftermath of this attack rumors surfaced in Iran that the Iraqi embassy – positioned in downtown Tehran – had installed a radio beacon on its roof to help Blinder crews navigate to and over the city. Despite the loss of a precious bomber. and for the IrAF it was a matter of pride to be able to “respond” in a similar manner. Nevertheless. the Iraqis were determined to keep their ingress route to Tehran open and strike back at any opportunity. This was the first confirmed downing of a Tu-22 bomber in combat. although they managed to hit some of their targets time and again. but the crew nevertheless detected the large – but slow .targets. often even announcing their strikes on TV or radio in advance. The two other Blinders took evasive action and ended up flying directly over central Tehran – including the primeminister‟s palace. trailing smoke. All their bombs missed. The main problem was that two thirds of their . but several hit an office-supplies warehouse. (It was one of several ironies of this war that – despite the fierce and bitter war being fought along the borders – Iraq and Iran did not break off diplomatic relations until the very last months of the First Persian Gulf War!).

a month-long series of counter-air strikes began with eight IRIAF F-4 Phantoms flying their boldest interdiction strike of the whole war.. four MiG-21s.000km into Iraq in order to attack all three airfields of the H-3 complex. so the Iranians decided to hit it there. instead of hunting and destroying them. This effectively ended the first episode of the Blinder‟s participation in the Iraq-Iran War. The Egyptians rushed in several of their Tu-16s as replacements for the IrAF. Achieving complete surprise. destroying three An-12s.8 were finally brought into a position to intercept a Tu-22B that was underway either towards the Iranian holy city of Qom or Esfahan. eight MiG-23s. due to the sheer size of the Blinder. bodies of all the six crewmembers were recovered. Although no Tu-22s are known to have been seriously damaged during this attack. another Blinder was claimed shot down by the air defenses of Qom. Iranian commanders understood that due to the incompetence of the Islamic fundamentalist regime. and two Jordanians were badly injured. as well as damaging eleven others beyond repair.1EQs (delivered only weeks earlier). and with most of its air bases under persistent Iranian attacks. four Egyptians. Nevertheless. the Iranians made several passes against al-Walid. IRIAF units were ordered to hold the Iraqis. the IrAF bomber fleet was largely non-operational and kept back at H-3 air base. On 4 April 1981.strikes had to be aborted as they got deeper into Iran. the Iranians finally cancelled their 180-day counter-air offensive. the IRIAF had been weakened already before the war. in order to limit their losses. The bomber was shot down by a single AIM-54A and crashed near Najaf-Abad. Two Iraqi pilots and 14 other personnel were killed. the Iranians were forced to keep the tempo of operation to a minimum. knowing that the Iraqis would regard the lack of intensive Iranian operations as a sign of weakness and seize the moment to regain the strategic initiative. According to Iranian records. killing the crew of three. five Su-20/-22s. while attempting to bomb the Shahin-Shahr thermal powerplant. they had to face the increasingly effective Iranian air defenses: MIM-23B Improved-HAWK SAMs could reach any altitude at which the Tu-22 could operate. This order was detested and – despite the personal risk it would involve – the personnel protested fiercely. H-3 Northwest and H-3 Southwest ABs. Almost simultaneously. After this disappointing show and heavy loss of precious crews. the crews were advised to abort as soon as their RWRs alerted them to IRIAF interceptors. while 19 Iraqis. the IrAF was forced to safeguard its remaining seven operational Tu-22Bs in their underground hangars at H-3 AB. and in late April 1981 the high command of the Islamic Republic of Iran Armed Services (IRIAS) decided to give up trying to achieve and maintain total control of the Iranian airspace. and two Mirage F. and at low level even optically guided AAA was dangerous. . including two Tu-16 bombers. penetrating over 1. and could not continue to suffer any more. together with three Egyptian and an East German officer.. The Return of the Blinders During the winter of 1980-1981. after a whole series of similarly successful strikes against other Iraqi airfields. one Tu-16. In short. That was exactly what happened. Even when the raiders came through. On the afternoon of 29 October 1980 two F-14As from TFB. the strike considerably degraded Iraq‟s capability to retaliate. scrambling interceptors whenever there was even the slightest chance of catching any of the Tupolevs. In addition. the IRIAF had meanwhile initiated an outright “hunt” for Iraqi bombers.

in May 1981 two Tu-22K/KPs taken from the Soviet Strategic Air Force (Dalnaya Aviatsiya). together with 200 Kh-22 (AS-4 Kitchen) missiles. with the caption: "Iraqi Air Force Tu-22 taking off to drive the Iranian aggressors back across their border". and the Kh-22MP. equipped with a more advanced passive radar seeker (in total. which were claiming many IrAF fighters. As a result. (former Iraqi Government. After negotiations between Moscow and Baghdad. the most numerous version of the Kh-22 sent to the IrAF was the Kh-22P anti-radar missile. ten Soviet aircraft weapons operators specialized in Tu-22Ks and Kh-22s. and nearly 100 weapons technicians needed to maintain the missiles and aircraft. especially MiG-23s. and monitored the testing of the Kh-22s under combat conditions. were deployed to Iraq. by 1985 . the Soviets helped to train Iraqis to use the Tu-22Bs and Tu-22K/KPs properly. Although the Tu-22Ks also had a “limited” free-fall bombing capability. and despite their “neutral” stance regarding hostilities between Baghdad and Tehran. their main task was to give the IrAF some sort of stand-off capability against Iranian interceptors and MIM-23B I-HAWK SAMs. via authors) Less than neutral USSR The Iraqis were already doing their best to bring the shattered and weakened IrAF back into the war.Well staged photograph released by the Iraqi "Ministry of Information" in 1981. In addition. and for a considerable period of time. First the Soviets set about getting as many Iraqi Tu-22s operational as possible. as well as rebuilding the example badly damaged by an engine fire before the war. the Soviets decided to become more active in supporting Iraq. a Soviet officer flew on board Iraqi Tu-22s on every mission. refurbishing them completely one by one. From then on.

and experienced pilots. causing immense problems for the IrAF. and moved their sites frequently.one. was usually insufficient to launch from anything like the maximum range over which the Kh-22 was tested (claimed to be up to 550km if released at high speeds and levels. In addition. Data supplied by the Koob electronic intelligence system. The Iranians were swift to recognize the patterns of Tu22K/KP attacks. were especially sensitive to rough handling during shipping. and their carriers – Tu-22KPs – were not much better. only two Iranian MIM-23 sites were ever damaged by Kh-22s fired from Iraqi Tu-22Ks .no less than 300 Kh-22s of different variants had been delivered to Iraq). The anti-radar versions. The main one being that theTu-22K‟s Leninets PN radar (ASCC code-named “Down Beat”) was large. very confident in their capabilities. Whatever limited success the weapon had was solely due to the extensive efforts of the Iraqi pilots and crews. Additionally. and their SAM sites proved exceptionally troublesome and evasive targets. installed to passively scan emissions from enemy radars. with each aircraft launching a single missile from as close a range as was deemed safe. The results of these “tests” were a major disappointment for both the IrAF and the Soviets . The Iranians had only three or four of these active over the long border with Iraq and several more defending important sites deeper inside the country. Iraqi Tu-22Ks would usually attack in pairs. the Kh-22P and Kh-22MP. Iranian reports about Iraqi bomber crews indicate that these were definitely the elite of the IrAF . Iraqi pilots learned that the seeker heads of Kh-22P/MPs had such a poor sensitivity that the missile had to be released from much shorter ranges – frequently down to between 15 and 30km. The Iraqis first used their Tu-22Ks to attack specific Iranian MIM-23 sites. mounted inside the radome. cumbersome. and that Soviet – as well as East German – weapons technicians were very worried about this development. They were propelled by highly toxic nitric acid oxidants and hydrazine. storage or loading. heavy. a considerable number of attacks had to be aborted.all were highly educated.4. they were facing superbly trained Iranian MiM-23A/B crews. The Iraqi crews came to dislike the PN radar and in many cases it was replaced with additional ECM equipment.to such a degree that still today. or 400km if released from medium level and cruise speed). Yet when several of their crews were sent on missions against Iranian SAMs they experienced the same results as the Iraqi crews. which were extremely hazardous in operation and distrusted by both the ground personnel and flying crews. As this often occurred. excellently trained. . but too often the seeker heads lost the track of the target and failed to guide. and many rounds failed after being launched. The net result was that the Iraqi Tu-22K/KPs had to attack the same Iranian HAWK site over and over for up to ten days in order to destroy or damage just a single radar! As a matter of fact. and highly unreliable. and once it had failed during the flight. in June 1981. The Soviets and East Germans again blamed Iraqi crews for the lack of success. But all were continually changing positions. Kh-22s were also quite unreliable and tended to be “touchy” to handle. The guidance system was prone to malfunction as well. nobody in Russia or Ukraine is willing to talk about the matter. On the other hand. and they always blamed the Iraqi pilots and crews and their poor skills for failed missions. positioned near Mehrabad. Iraqis reported that the Iranians had somehow started jamming the Kh-22‟s radar. The engines almost never failed to fire. There were several problems. the Kh-22 was of little use. and another. When operating against Iranian HAWK sites. defending Vahdati TFB. catching the Iraqis by surprise time and again. despite a large number of Kh-22s being spent in both cases. who were specialists in this kind of warfare. in May 1982.

the last rounds being spent sometimes in early 1986. the Iraqis learned to respect and fear the HAWK system and its operators. as well as the intensity with which the Tu-22s were used in this conflict. down to barely 150 combat aircraft from the 350 plus it had at the start of the war . Besides. but interviewed former IrAF pilots said that in both cases. Considering the importance and quality of the deployment of this Blinder version and the associated Kh-22 missiles. both the remaining two Kh-22-compatible Blinders and associated missiles were used for anti-surface attacks against different large civilian targets in Iran for the next few years. it is astonishing how little is known about the whole affair. there were 19 Iraqi pilots qualified to fly Tu-22s.” and the Soviet technicians were still needed to keep Iraqi Tu-22s flying. and – according to contemporary Iranian and Soviet reports – these 19 were considered to be “slightly above average in situations requiring adaptability and flexibility during combat missions”. By this time. the IrAF was in a very poor state. The situation regarding Iraqi ground crews also varied…from “poor” to “fair. (artwork by Tom Cooper) VIP-pilots By mid-1982. at least 12 missiles were fired at each target. Now the IrAF needed highly experienced pilots in other units . In the end. The idea of using Tu-22Ks and Kh-22s for SEAD/DEAD missions was dropped and the IrAF started pressing the Soviets – and in turn the French – for other weapons and equipment. Most of the Iraqi Tu-16 and Tu-22 pilots were sent to units equipped with tactical fighters. where they should have focused on training less experienced pilots thus ensuring they would be able to fly and use new and more capable aircraft – foremost the Mirage F.the reorganization of the IrAF units introduced in 1982. in response to the poor results achieved by the air force in the war so far.1EQs. The latter was finally addressed on a direct order from Saddam Hussein.The exact number of attacks per site remains unknown. of which only one scored a hit. during the first of these operations a Blinder was shot down by a MIM23B. another was damaged beyond repair. This reorganization was to impact upon the next period during which Iraqi Tu22s were barely used. not to mention the heavy losses. trying to avoid them whenever possible. Instead. At this time.it was in need of new equipment as much as organization. and during the second. the Iraqis learned that the Blinders delivered to their air force were all refurbished and partially . and there have been no reports of their use since. One of the main reasons for this decision was also the cost and complexity of maintaining Blinders (and Badgers): the expense of maintaining just one Tu-22 could keep a whole squadron of between 12 and 14 Sukhoi Su-22 fighter-bombers in service. The only known serial applied on Tu-22Ks was 4514 of the 7th BS IrAF. mainly consisted of reassigning the more experienced pilots and commanders back to front-line squadrons to increase the overall combat capabilities and performance of those units. and it is believed that this example survived the war with Iran.

both ejected safely and were captured shortly afterwards. while another Su-22 was damaged and the rest of the Iraqi formation aborted their attack. such aircraft needed extensive maintenance just to be kept flyable. Hisham Fakhri. brother-in-law of Gen. But they used the same ingress route once too often.3 shortly after penetrating Iranian airspace at low level near the Iraqi town of Halabcheh. ensured that by early 1984 eight Tu-22Bs – including the example damaged by engine fire before the war – two Tu-22Ks. Rajabian. and the formation was intercepted by two F-4Es from TFB. Former IRIAF F-4 pilot Capt. but.rebuilt old Soviet aircraft. flown on 27 January 1983. Four Su-22s of the 69th Sqn IrAF. They also seemed to somehow know where our F-14As were and how many were combat ready on a daily basis: having all these information allowed them to plan their missions into Iran with some safety factors built in for success and survivability. of course. and both Tu-22Us were operational again. that despite the ruggedness of the Tu-22. at the time one of the top Iraqi army generals. who participated in several “Blinder-hunts”. received daily intelligence from the USA. And so the Iranians learned how the Iraqis had avoided flying into the areas where Iranian air defenses were active and ready. were scheduled to destroy the Karaj early-warning radar station west of Tehran. Al-Mokfi. The shifting of highly experienced bomber crews to units equipped with tactical fighters. Daryush Z. took “special care” of the two Iraqi “VIP” officers with such good connections straight into the top of the Iraqi regime. and were extremely “talkative. unit commander and former Tu-22 pilot with 41 Blinder combat sorties to his credit. Besides the early combat experiences showed. Capt. well worn out even before they reached Iraq. Adnan Kheirollah. Rajabian. led by Maj. Maj. any kind of combat damage – even the most minor – would cause the aircraft to become unstable and disintegrate in flight. Weapon of Terror Strenuous efforts on behalf of the IrAF and with plenty of Soviet help.quite on the contrary. The Iranians. Needless to say. near the Saudi border. and a son-in-law of Gen. led by another former Tu-22 pilot and deputy commander of that unit. Both explained at length how much they despised the regime. Two of these occurred during a single strike. IrAF Blinders could now fly more missions than ever before. was not surprised and later recalled: Somehow the IrAF always seemed to know which of our early warning radars were in service and which were not. In response to a direct order from the Iraqi dictator. A new group of personnel was trained and there were finally enough spares and Soviet maintainers to keep the fleet at a high readiness rate. and Capt. they learned that neither Rajabian nor Al-Mokfi had anything good to say about Saddam Hussein‟s clique . the IrAF changed its overall strategy and started targeting Iranian cities along the border. even if the number of available airframes never again reached previous levels. forcing the crew to eject.” telling the Iranians – among others – all about Iraqi Tu-22 operations. plus they seemed to have a very good understanding of where our HAWK SAM units were set up and where the IRGC HQ-2 SAM units were based. AlMokfi. explaining where IRIAF interceptors were patrolling the skies and which Iranian SAM sites were active. however. the then Iraqi Defence Minister. resulted in some of the most painful losses for the Iraqi Blinder pilots. As a result. and both section leaders were shot down within seconds. The four Sukhois were to be escorted by four MiG-23s of the 73rd Sqn IrAF. rather to their surprise. let alone fully operational. decorated with the “Saddam Star” medal for heroism shown on the first day of the war. thus initiating what later became known as the . and that the IrAF Command and Control Centre at Nukhaib.

Iranian interceptors were flying at every opportunity and going after every Iraqi aircraft they could detect. the official caption was: "Iranian fighter being driven off and destroyed by an Iraqi Air Force Tu-16 tail gunner who was defending the Iraqi people from more criminal attacks by the Iranian air force". Just a single MiG-23 was damaged by a Sidewinder and crashed while trying to return to Iraq. and Rasht – had been hit. In reality. however. flying was so intensive that normal maintenance schedules had to be ignored. Qazyin. began exerting severe pressure on the IRIAF to stop the bombardments. which made them extremely difficult to intercept . The picture was taken by the tail gunner of an IrAF 8th BS Tu-16 bomber while on a mission against Orumiyeh. but. near Kirkuk. (former Iraqi Government.“War of the Cities”. most of the missions were staged via al-Huriyah AB. The 4th Composite Bomber Wing – now equipped with Tu-16s and Tu-22s only – was still operating from the H-3 complex. As the Iraqi bombers increased their attacks on different cities. Quite a few sorties reached their target areas and the Iraqi bomber fleet soon became a major headache for the Iranian people and the IRIAF.in order to catch any Iraqi bombers the Iranians had . the Iranian religious and military leadership. its capabilities and determination. Nevertheless. none of which were damaged. Within a few days a number of cities in northern Iran – including Zanjun. when two F-5Es from TFB. Indeed. Iraq‟s apparent success led the Iranian people to doubt that the IRIAF was capable or willing to intercept enemy bombers. each raid that managed to get through sapped the people‟s view of their air force. They would cruise at a very high speed. Although both Iranian fighters survived. on 1 February 1985.2 intercepted a formation of two Tu-16s. the Iranian pilots managed to force the Tupolevs to jettison their bombs prematurely and abort the mission. as well as the public. Dramatic photograph illustrating the ferocity of Iranian efforts to intercept Iraqi bombers images like this had not been seen since the end of World War Two. Although outnumbered and outgunned. in north-western Iran. where pairs of Blinders would refuel before starting their 550km long highspeed runs against the Iranian capital. While most of the Iraqi strikes were spoiled by Iranian interceptors. escorted by four MiG-23s. and soon enough the Blinders were attacking targets in the Tehran area again. mainly to strike targets deeper inside Iran – mainly in the Tehran area. the Iraqi MiG-23 pilots did a good job and successfully covered the vulnerable Tu-16s. Iraqi Blinders were deployed intensively. via authors) The first Tu-22 strikes of the “War of the Cities” were flown in mid-February 1984.

Maleki. as I – briefly . However. Plus the air force had fighters in place to intercept them. the situation was so precarious that the IRIAF considered deploying two or three F-14As to TFB.000 feet and high speed. The five Iraqi planes were identified by the AWG-9 radar as four Tu-22 bombers. agreed with me that this must have been the case. Capt. a formation of five fast-moving Iraqi planes were detected by a lone IRIAF F-14A. As we closed. I had a very good feeling that these five Iraqi planes had showed us their plan early. while our SAM units were alerted that Tehran would soon come under attack. the Iraqi bombers detected the emission of the AWG-9 on the lonesome F-14 and were no longer intent on just flying into the open arms of the IRIAF and Tehran’s air defenses: instead.. but. It would not take long to learn that we were both wrong. I was still feeling somewhat apprehensive as we climbed to intercept these Iraqi bandits – for two main reasons. S. it happened to be testing new repairs to its radar system. just behind the Blinder formation. the whole 32nd TFW. Then I came to the idea that the Tu-16 might have acted as a tanker. On this day. as well as tanker convoys and Khark Island in the Persian Gulf. on station some 44km east of the Qazyin City. 1st Lt. in a bid to deter Iraqi bombers. unarmed but acting as a radar-picket. as luck would have it. all underway at about 40. and – of course – the Iraqi crews were not there to make their job easier. and that they would now pay a high price for this. and where the Iraqi planes were. However. Mohammadi. IrAF bombers were very rarely seen in such large numbers: it was more common for them to attack as single bomber or in pairs or trios at most. The TFB.2 at Tabriz. these bombers and their Iraqi crews (that is if they were Iraqis) behaved somehow different than before and we were not to see this right from the start of the following action. was deployed to Tabriz in early March 1984. and was thus on the right place at the right time. and one Tu-16 bomber flying at about 45. but the Blinders were instead clearly leading the Tu-16 into the battle. and also for some crew training. this idea was dropped because the Tomcat fleet was already overstretched by the need to defend the oilfields in the south. I was thinking at first that the Iraqi Badger was acting as "pathfinder" for the Tu-22s. Instead of Tomcats. as well as fighting new Iraqi tactics and capabilities: On 15 March 1984 (soon after the seizure of Iraqi Majnoon artificial islands during an Iranian offensive).to be in the right place at the right time. I led my wingman along the intercept vector towards the Iraqi bombers: initially after takeoff.000ft. H..1 immediately scrambled our pair of F4Es and began to prepare four more Phantoms for take-off. However. so to extend the endurance of the Blinders: my wingman. This F-14 of the 73rd TFS was – together with two other Tomcats – based at Mehrabad for testing equipment and weapons. The first was that this was a large group of bombers and second that we did not know why was there a lone Tu-16 tagging along behind the much faster Blinders. what type. For once in the time as we climbed into our Phantoms we had solid information on our side: how many. For a while. just west of Tehran. equipped with F-4Es. Ghost bandits A former F-4 Phantom II pilot with the 12th TFS. my WSO and I started setting up an AIM-7 Sparrow attack. recalled one of the missions he flew during which he experienced the full complexity of intercepting Tu-22s.

approaching to only some 30km from the city. but then they both climbed. The noise. Having no other plan in my mind. I thought at that moment. Simultaneously. we did not know that the remaining two Tu-22s had dropped to a lower level and speed. The two Blinders. . my WSO reported that the other three Iraqi bombers were holding their direction and speed. before turning back towards Iraq. What happened? They jammed our radars using SMALTA-5 ECM systems. as all the Iraqi planes disappeared like ghosts from the radar display of our Phantoms.– attempted a lock-on onto the lead Tu-22. The lone Tu-16 continued towards Tehran at first. But. any hope for a missile attack immediately vanished. and my wingman confirmed that he was thinking the same over radio. but not like this (IrAF Tu-22s were carrying flare and chaff cartridges usually in the rear of both of their main landing-gear pods. but we also did not know that at least one of the remaining three Iraqi bombers was also equipped with a powerful electronic warfare suite – manned obviously by a capable operator. and supplied the mid-course guidance update to the two missiles that were now at a high altitude. and then also jammed my radio communication with the wingman and with our base: instead I could hear the low. Later. we determined that the lead two Tu22s had pulled ahead and climbed to drop a large package of chaff. forming a huge chaff cloud barrier in front of the remainder of their formation. Thinking to myself again that this was bad. It appeared to me at that moment that the Iraqi pilots had chosen to run back home. that perhaps they were going to intercept my flight.and high-pitched sounds of jamming from the Soviet Pelena II electronic radio jammer in my earphones (I knew how the Pelena II sounded as I’ve heard it before). one bomber going to the left and one to the right. pulling ahead of the others in their flight. We still had enough fuel and a total of eight AIM-9s between us that could not be jammed by chaff – plus four pairs of good Iranian eyes. I used hand signals to tell my wingman to follow me into the chaff-cloud. The two leading Blinders both initiated their high-speed dashes. I can assure you that moments later things went from bad to worse. and then the bombers turned away back to Iraq. surprise.. which were now our only hope for intercepting Iraqi bombers. until they approached close enough for their own terminal guidance systems to activate and acquire the target: Mehrabad TFB. However. even as we were talking.1. and switch to Sidewinders. allowing the two of our radars near Tehran to detect the AS-4s in their terminal dive at a very high speed from high altitude.000kg warheads ever could. and then made abrupt U-turns. now we did not only have to contend with this chaff cloud. launched a single AS-4 missile each towards Tehran: the missiles ignited properly and started climbing to a higher altitude for a maximum efficiency cruise. The air was suddenly free of most of Iraqi jamming. We guessed that their bomb-bays must have been fully-loaded with chaff for them to be able to create a chaff cloud large enough to hide them all from our radars. who knew how to operate it against us: the Iraqis dropped chaff and jammed us before. As we flew into this man-made “blind-zone” scanning the sky overhead for our targets. the lone Tu-16 was climbing at its top-speed to a higher altitude: soon it would become all too clear to us that the powerful jammers and the good electronic warfare specialist were located aboard that Badger. and that the Iraqis were splitting their formation in order to make it more difficult for us to intercept them.. by then at only 600ft. and confusion caused by this attack did far more damage to the people of Tehran than the two 1. while reconstructing the Iraqi operation on debriefing. and the Tu-16 then also turned back towards Iraq. along with strike cameras).

. The Russians fired from Iraqi Tu-16s and Tu-22s many AS-4. Y. AS-5. having been sent there for refurbishment. air-dropped mines. in 1984. Many of these weapons worked fine against our troops dug-in on the front. The two Tu-22U were apparently serialled 1115 and 1116. a Tu-22B was shot down by an Iranian F-14A – using an AIM-54A Phoenix missile – over the Majnoon islets. the massive use of EW and deception. a former IRIAF intelligence officer: We knew that the Russians flew “special” Tu-22s for Iraqis on missions over Iran. like FAE bombs. the Iranian interceptors sometimes had better luck. and also dropped many new free-fall weapons. on 25 March. and that they tested a large variety of different weapons. but over positions held by Iranian troops. and tactics. shortly after the end of the First Persian Gulf War. and equipment. and AS-6 missiles against targets in Iran (frankly. and some were not even in production but only in later stages of the development. There was no joy for the IRIAF and Iran on that day.1 even as the tower informed us that the airfield was hit. Barely ten days later. but how the Iranian Tomcats maintained their success against improved Iraqi Blinders. Many of these weapons were new. the Iraqis even fired a large number of HY-2 Silkworm and CSSC-3 Seersucker anti-ship missiles against different land targets as the war neared its end: the Russian anti-ship missiles had obviously many applications). some were just early prototypes. tactics. and again in 1988. but by now it was too late for them to help us catch the Iraqi bombers: we were short on fuel and had to return back to TFB. was explained by Capt. their jammers. What an achievement this was for the IRIAF.Meanwhile. we had regained a clear picture on our radars. (authors' collection) Iraqi missile variety Despite such sound tactics. Iraqi Tu-22U in the USSR. 1985. and anti-armor cluster bombs. while still inside Iraqi airspace.

however. FAB-3000s. and applied it successfully.the Soviet pilots flew Iraqi Blinders: other sources. radar sites. we would be firing our SAMs from longer ranges and before the Iraqis could get as close. used on Tu-16s. 12 of which were usually carried. Some Iranians are sure that in most of the attacks . as it was equipped with a number of different fusing systems. Consequently. The SMALTA-5 was the only system capable of jamming our I-HAWK radars and at the same time also “whiting out” the radar scopes of our F-4s from ranges of around 10 km. often heavily defended. installed on their Tu-22s and Su-22s from 1983. These huge weapons were usually released with the help of the supersonic toss technique.000ft (15. including the giant FAB-5000 and FAB-9000 bombs – especially when they had to hit from stand-off ranges. The FAB-9000 was usually carried only on shorter-ranged missions and would kill and destroy everything within 75 meters of the impact point. and the ECCM capabilities of their systems were also improved. hard to miss with “iron” bombs. the Russians also started using the very powerful SMALTA-4 and -5 systems on some of their MiG-25s and Tu-22s deployed in Iraq. neither SMALTA-4 nor -5 could jam the F-14’s AWG-9 radar. It is certain that no Tu-22 using this technique was ever shot down by Iranian defenses. or – if already too close to the target – to execute a supersonic toss attack.They also tested top-of-the-line special electronic gear – although. As already indicated. the FAB-500 was also very reliable. but it seems that by using this tactic Tu-22s evaded several Phoenix missiles. were actually useless against our MIM-23B I-HAWK SAMs. Iron bombs and supersonic lobs The main weapon of the Iraqi Tu-22Bs remained the FAB-500. Exact details remain sketchy. while heavy blast damage was caused out to 200 meters and – of course – other kinds of damage caused out to over a kilometer. But the SMALTA-3. The old Soviet SMALTA-2 jammer. which could blind the MIM-23B from a distance of between 10 and 15 km for short periods of time. however. and cause heavy blast damage out to 100 meters. Interestingly. used initially on Tu-22s. oil refineries. Along FAB-1000s. After 1983. and open bulk-storage areas. Besides. the Iraqi and Soviet Tu-22B and Tu-22K/KD crews were still advised to avoid Iranian F-14s and F-4s at all cost. Most of the targets attacked by Iraqi Blinders were large. which also ensured great versatility.240m) before releasing the weapon. however. which saw the bomber approaching the target at a supersonic speed and altitude of 50. The model used on the Blinder had a tail shroud covering the fins and proved very accurate when dropped from higher altitudes and speeds. indicate that several Iraqi crews mastered this maneuver as well. during the war the Iraqi Blinders used other different free-fall weapons. functioned against the I-HAWKs. a free-fall “iron” bomb. the ECM and ECCM systems used on their Tu-22 in general had only mixed results. fixed objects. Of course. Once free of the load – and still kilometers away from the target – the aircraft would then complete an Immelmann and roll-out to return to Iraq at a high speed. such as cities. thus simultaneously releasing bombs and initiating an evasion maneuver that could not be tracked even by the AIM-54. The FAB-5000 proved an exceptionally destructive weapon: it would kill and destroy anything within 50 meters of the impact point.in which the supersonic toss technique was applied . and the TAKAN-1 ECM system. We did not think that the Russians ever have let any Iraqi pilots to fly the aircraft equipped with these systems. even if only from very short ranges – two or three kilometers. and FAB-5000s. the FAB-9000 remained also a major weapon against concentrations of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) troops .

targeting was conducted with the help of the tank farm in al-Faw. and Iraqi pilots proved capable of dropping the FAB-9000 from subsonic or supersonic speeds (up to Mach 1. In addition to INS and RSBN-navigation aids.2. all hell broke loose on Iranian communication networks: their casualties were very heavy. some 25km north of Baghdad . called Nassir 9. which made a superb radar echo.during the war with Iran. which entered production at the Nassir Establishment. on a weapons range. which . as well as to compare them with the Soviet original. which was a main disembarkation point for troops committed to Iranian offensives in the region of Howeizeh Marshes. The weapon was testdropped from both types of aircraft that were to use it.2). that IrAF again almost run out of stocks. (authors' collection) . but the ballistic computer of the Tu-22 was working quite well. A particular mission that saw deployment of FAB-9000s with help of supersonic toss technique was one undertaken by three Tu-22s on the evening of 16 February 1986. The Iranians used the small docks in the local harbor to ship their men and materiel across the Shatt al-Arab waterway by night. Eventually. Nassir-9. to extensive ground and flight testing. put on display in front of the former IrAF HQ building in downtown Bagdad. set to detonate the weapon eight meters above the ground. was hit several times through 1984. One of its primary targets was the Iranian military camp at alJufair.as concluded by the Iraqis – was developing a higher overpressure and had a wider shrapnel distribution pattern than any comparable Western weapon. our pilots used radar to approach at a level of 7. in the Howeizeh. equipped with South-African Jupiter proximity fuses. after it was occupied by the Iranians.000m and a speed of Mach 1. For this reason. necessary to measure the overpressure and patterns of shrapnel distribution. against Iranian troops that occupied the city of al-Faw. The last remaining FAB-9000s and Nassir 9s were destroyed by IrAF in 1993. the Iraqi military industry developed a home-made version. the FAB-9000 was used so excessively. the Iraqi reverse-engineered version of the FAB-9000. Nassir 9 matched the Soviet model to 90% of its capabilities. near Ahwaz . The deployment of this weapon in combat was complex. and static detonation testing was conducted. The IrAF Safety Board subjected this version. the Majnoon Isle. Each of the three Tupolevs dropped one FAB-9000. and entered service in 1988.the Soviets provided no help even if they were aware of Iraqi efforts. Tu-16 and Tu-22. Once the weapons hit.

and the IrAF was compelled to continue similar operations. the port of Bandar Khomeyni was bombed and damaged. killing five and injuring eight. but also a series of massive – and clandestine – arms shipments from Israel. Slightly later. in February 1985. a city on the coast of the Caspian Sea. IrAF Tu-22s. precision. and Col. Despite using Kh-22s and the supersonic toss attack technique. and properly-functioning weapons. two Tu-22Ks launched Kh-22s against two points in north-eastern Tehran. even if it had to overcome considerable problems due to lack of suitable targeting information. All crews of the 7th BS participating in this raid were decorated. The Iraqis continued their attacks on the following day as well. but a number were also fired against highly reflective radar targets. By attacking different targets far apart from each other. which came without any previous warning: suddenly there was a terrible explosion that blew away a large house and severely damaged several others. killing one and injuring 19 civilians. at around 11:20. Shortly after. Both SAMs missed and landed in the fields nearby. by early 1986 the Iranian air defenses had been revamped following a complete reorganization of all its assets. and heavy electronic countermeasures. On the next morning. and in the middle of that month they spearheaded a kind of aerial offensive against the largest Iranian cities. killing two civilians and injuring four others.1EQs. a single Iraqi bomber approached Qazvin but was surprised by the Iranian air defenses. On 14 March. Hamawi advanced to the rank of Lieutenant General (he was later to become the Commander of the IrAF. only to be executed by the regime during the Gulf War II. Three heavy bombs – each leaving a 4 meter deep crater – hit Tabriz. On 10 March. causing no damage. . seven Tu-22Bs attacked Tehran again. The heaviest strike then hit Kermanahsh. including oil refineries and industrial sites. and the Blinders were caused to jettison their bomb loads. Additional raids were also flown against Esfahan and Shiraz. Tabriz was attacked and hit by three bombs from high altitude. and they still had to abort their attacks on numerous occasions. a sole Tu-22K fired one Kh-22 towards Esfahan after approaching at a very high altitude. the Iraqis frequently managed to stretch the IRIAF to the limits. Saddam Hussein still considered the “War of the Cities” to be a useful method for pushing Iran towards an armistice. where Tu-16 and Tu-22 dropped massive bomb loads killing 110 civilians and security personnel. the heaviest series of strikes of the whole war so far were unleashed. some indigenous improvements. and before IRIAF fighters could intercept it. From March 1985. attempted to approach Tehran from the west. killing 22 and injuring 21 civilians. but two F-14s were scrambled to intercept and the Iraqi bombers were forced towards the border at high speed. Arak was attacked. were often accompanied by MiG-25RBs and Mirage F. On the same evening. Shortly after. On the same day. in 1991). deception. the fourth wave. this time penetrating successfully and causing damage to some industrial targets. Finally. killing eleven civilians. consisting of two Tu-22s.The Tu-22Ks continued using Kh-22: most of the missiles were still fired against Iranian radar stations and SAM sites. and then especially on 25 May 1985. which fired two MiM-23 HAWKs. Eyewitnesses recalled a Kh-22-strike against Rasht. Twilight of Service in Iraq In response to these fierce bombing attacks. and find “holes” in Iranian air defenses. In face of such problems. a single Iraqi bomber – either a Tu-22K or one of the updated MiG-25RBs sent to Iraq by the Soviets for testing – fired two missiles at Esfahan. the situation remained difficult for Iraqi Blinder crews. but the air defenses were alert. On the morning of 12 March 1985.

that was operational near the city. Kowsar-3 started work by downing a single MiG-23BN. As a result the Iraqis began to consider their Tu-22s as too vulnerable to be used for attacking targets inside such well-defended areas like Tehran. Together with Tu-16s. Tu-22Bs and Tu-22Ks were initially thrown into the attacks against Iranian troop concentrations . and the effectiveness of . An IrAF Tu-22B. Blinders – supported by MiG-25RBs and escorted by MiG-25PDs – bombed Tehran twice before the third formation was intercepted by F-14s. painted in olive green. the whole Iraqi Blinder fleet did not reappear in the war until July 1986 when – this time escorted by Mirage F. The well-prepared and executed Iranian Valfajr-8 offensive. and the IrAF was compelled to deploy all available assets. Shortly after. the Soviets had now started supplying more advanced tactical aircraft and weapons to Iraq.the Iranian air defenses along the front were more effective than ever before. brought Iraq on the verge of military defeat. and deployed against the Iranian “Kowsar-3” MIM-23B SAM site. like the Kh-28M and Kh-25MP. or employing heavy jamming. the appearance of the Blinders was not detected by their opponents until their bombs had started to fall. However. and it was to do so again on 16 February. there are no reports of Kh-22 usage in this war after that date. during refurbishment in the USSR. Most of the time. and causing the rest of the Iraqi formation to abort. This SAM site had previously presented an immense problem to the Iraqis. the Tu-22s were sent back to the front at Faw. the regime in Baghdad lost patience. apparently photographed in 1989 or 1990. contrary to the usual descriptions of Iraqi "Blinders" being painted in sand and dark earth. the number of missions aborted because of Iranian F-14s was still too high for the contribution of the Tu-22 to be characterized as “useful. the second strike appeared. On the early morning of 15 February 1986. and – when needed – they would be supported by tactical fighters dropping chaff canisters. and elsewhere. Unable to recapture Faw. Early in the morning. equipped with smaller but more effective anti-radar missiles. but the Tu-22s escaped undamaged. which resulted in the capture of most of the Iraqi Faw Peninsula. they were still capable of finding blind spots in the Iranian radar network. Note the dark appearance of the aircraft.” Besides. and the IrAF started suffering excessive losses among its tactical fighters. (authors' collection) On several occasions. regardless of the price. The next morning. The Tomcats shot down a MiG-25RB. or hit the Iranian units on the front with air power. among them Su-22M-4Ks and Su-22UM-3Ks. initiated in February 1986. South Korea.1EQs as well as MiG-25s – several were sent to resume daily strikes against Tehran and Esfahan. As a matter of fact. this time the Iranian SAMs shot down an Iraqi Tu-22K.USA. Singapore. With this. the IrAF was down to only one Tu-22 capable of carrying Kh-22s: unsurprisingly. however.

This – together with the clever tactic of avoiding unnecessary air-to-air battles.MiG-25RBs in Iraqi service was also constantly increasing. the B-6Ds and C. however.first two of the Mirages first launched their Exocets. additional reports arrived in Baghdad about the minimal activity of Iranian interceptors in the air over the Persian Gulf. near Basrah.1EQs and one B-6D were shot down by Iranian F-14As during separate battles). by early 1988. one target survived relentless attacks: the oil storage and export installations on Khark Island. the Iranian defenses were still vigilant and very active. on the eve of the Persian New Year. Final strike By late 1987. The IrAF had launched several aerial offensives against Khark.39 Exocet combinations: the C.601s were no more successful than the Mirage F. the IrAF purchased four Xian B-6D (H-6D) bombers and between 30 and 50 2. either missed the target or suffered extensive losses for no gain in exchange. and were barely disrupted by Iraqi strikes. took off from Shoaibah AB. the use of stand-off weapons by Iraqi pilots. For various reasons. downing more Iraqi aircraft over the Persian Gulf than ever before. On the evening of 16 April 1988. the massive employment of chemical weapons along the frontlines. Throughout the next day.601‟s 225kg (496 lb) warhead would not cause more damage than an Exocet when hitting super-tankers. and the increasing US support for Baghdad – caused great problems and concerns for Iran.379 lb) C. in 1984. the strategic circumstances in Iraq had changed dramatically. additional reports from the US Navy effectively declared the area around Khark a “shooting gallery. US Navy ships underway in the central Persian Gulf reported a convoy of Iranian tankers heading towards Khark. and two Su-22s (the last were to act as SEAD escorts). even to the point of experiencing manpower shortages. at around 01:00 on 19 March 1988. the first wave.601 semi-active radar-guided anti-ship missiles from China.” Finally. Despite very intensive Iraqi operations. By 1987. 1985. which proved highly able to withstand attacks due to their huge size and massive construction. however. however. and supplied all the relevant data to the Iraqis. and effective. Nevertheless. Besides. the Iraqi Blinder fleet was again largely grounded. influential. Most of these operations.1EQ-5 and AM. that by then. only six Tu-22Bs and two Tu-22Us remained operational. It could now conduct a massive strike against the convoy while it was loading crude oil at Khark. To the IrAF. hoping to be able to use them against Iranian shipping – mainly oil tankers – underway in the southern Persian Gulf. This support led to the last large operation involving Iraqi Tu-22s.” full of “excellent targets. and a total of 18 Mirage F. a few of them a couple of months long. scoring two hits in the accommodation block of . Meanwhile. and the IrAF needed most of the following 48 hours to get them ready for the strike – along with six MiG-25RBs. including four Tu-22Bs and six Mirages. By this time. hitting the installations on the island with dozens of strikes. Temporarily unleashed from the tight control by the regime.440kg (5. which soon found itself exhausted by the long conflict. the IrAF took the war deep into Iran. and 1986.1EQs. however. In late 1987. flying hundreds of sorties each day mainly to hit targets of economic significance. delivering a decisive blow to the Iranian oil exports. six MiG-23BNs. US support for Iraq became widespread. This attack was devastating . In total. oil exports from Khark were still flowing. therefore. which had suffered extensive losses in the area during February 1988 (no less than eight Mirage F. this seemed to be the opportunity it was looking for. as well as for the oil installations on the island. US Navy ships were directly supplying targeting information for Iraqi anti-ship strikes in the Khark area.

causing a horrible conflagration.deplorable in nature. The US Navy ships nearby monitored the unfolding attack.the tanker Kyrnicos . six MiG-23BNs. while at least two Iranian F-14As were doing the same from southeast. But then. they launched at least five Phoenix missiles within a very short period. can only be described as a complete catastrophe for the IrAF. the radars onboard USN ships confirmed the downing of one Tu-22Bs. Sanandaj. as this happened exactly at the moment the second Iraqi wave – consisting of two Tu-22Bs. Swiftly establishing proper firing parameters.. The Blinders disappeared before even a single IRIAF interceptor could scramble from Bushehr..” used for transporting crude oil to the lower Persian Gulf. While the high-speed pursuits were going on at high levels. but by this time the IRIAF MIM23B system on Khark was operational and fired several HAWKs in quick succession.” The Iraqis destroyed two of the largest Iranian “shuttle tankers. Not one of the seven crewmembers from these aircraft was rescued. but Iraq also certainly lost at least two precious Tu-22Bs. The IRIAF F-14 crews were working extremely well and lucky that their planes and missiles were in excellent condition. therefore.837dwt. However.it was so badly damaged that it had to be towed back to Larak Island. The strike upon Ava‟i and Sanandaj was certainly the heaviest and – for both sides – the costliest of the whole “Tanker War. four MiG-25RBs.stop acting like Iraqi guardians. While it is possible that more Iraqi aircraft were shot down. It should be explained that the number of Iraqi planes lost during this battle was based on radar monitoring by USN ships: as they were not stationed very close to Khark these results may not have been very accurate. and even though the “War of the Cities” continued afterwards it . MiG-23BN. killing 22 of the crew. either the skipper of the carrier USS Ranger (CV-61) or USS Guadalcanal (LPH-7) issued a message that the Iraqi attack was “. and that by that time the IRIAF MIM-23B site on the island had apparently fired all of its rounds. even if full details are still not available.398dwt. and two F-4Es from the south! Turning the tables What happened when these aircraft met over Khark at 0932hrs that morning. and a single MiG-25RB.” followed by a general order to all the other skippers of USN ships in the area to “. and the Iranian tanker shuttle did not suffer any further losses of this nature. and the ship was gutted by flames. It is. There were far fewer Iraqi antishipping strikes after this. Certainly the IrAF never tried anything similar again against Khark. a super-tanker of 316.” The repercussions from this decision were far-reaching. It was confirmed that the site shot down one MiG and a Sukhoi within 30 seconds. Massive explosions ripped the giant ship apart. Then. weighting 253.. and reported that it was executed in good order. and supported by heavy jamming from escorting Mirages carrying Caiman ECM pods. and Su-22M-4Ks. 32 minutes later. where it was loaded into ships sent by customers. the Blinders arrived. as well as their irreplaceable crews. requesting replacement rounds to be sent from the mainland. was hit by several bombs. together with a single example each of a MiG25RB.. Their attack came as a complete surprise: Ava‟i. dropping 12 FAB-500 bombs each. they not only did they once again fail to destroy the oil installations at Khark. very likely that the Iraqis suffered even more losses – because it is known that their third wave arrived in the Khark area at around 15:00hrs. was also hit with equal precision: 26 of the crew perished. Nearby. Iran was forced to postpone further oil exports for quite some time. as numerous urgent Iranian radio messages were intercepted. and two Su-22M4-Ks – was approaching Khark from northwest. MiG-23s and Su-22s made low approaches.

the strike against Khark flown on 19 March 1988. the civil war in Chad had resulted in total chaos in the country. However. Indirectly. and Tu-22Bs of the First Bomber Squadron. Not a single crewmember known to have ejected from these aircraft. Libyan troops arrived in N‟Djamena. East German.the possession of Aouzou enabled the LARAF to react more swiftly to calls for air strikes against FAN.was mainly with surface-to-surface missiles. In total. FAN and Sudanese air defenses at the time were poor. one Tu-22B and one Tu-22K to MIM-23B Improved-HAWK SAMs. and in most cases the Libyans were able to carry out surprise attacks. after finishing work on enlarging the airfield near Aouzou. the 1110th Sqn LARAF permanently held two Blinders on alert at al-Jufra/Hun AB. With Western help. the rest died. For IrAF Blinders. The Soviet. in August 1980. Questionable success in Chad Meanwhile. Additionally. targeting places in Chad. By 1980.although six were captured by the Iranians. in August 1981 (that led to an air battle in which two F-14As shot down two Libyan Su-22s) were also influenced by this fact. the 7th BS IrAF lost four Blinders in combat: two Tu-22Bs to Iranian F14As and AIM-54A Phoenix missiles. fighting on Oueddei‟s side. but lacking heavier punch. in north-western Chad. was recovered . one to F-14As and one to AIM-7E-2 Sparrows fired by F-4E Phantoms. in southern Libya. and Pakistani crews. Libya annexed the Aouzou strip in northern Chad. this time in Chad. mainly using Tu-22Bs. Another two were claimed by the Iranians. High Command in Tripoli had requested that the unit be able to launch them within four to six hours of being put on notice for a mission (a very tall order for the LARAF at the time. on 16 September 1981. From then on. at least three Blinders are known to have been so severely damaged by Iranian defenses that they had to be written off even if returning safely to Iraq. including Mirage 5s and Su-20/-22s. On 9 October 1980. during the First Persian Gulf War. which were now frequently forward-deployed at Ma‟atan Bishrah AB. two Libyan Tu-22Bs flew a long-range strike successfully targeting Habré‟s forces around the Chadian capital.260WL Warriors. the Sudanese shot . forcing him to call Libya for help. From September 1981. Libyan Arab republic Air Force (LARAF) Tu-22Bs became involved in yet another struggle in Africa. Libyans also deployed a number of aircraft there – sometimes including Blinders . especially SAMs. By mid-1981.” because they did not fly any more combat missions again. as well as SIAI-Marchetti SF. well equipped with light weapons. was their “swan song. and especially a unit equipped with Tu-22s!). Meanwhile Oueddei‟s forces were supported by a strong LARAF contingent. but these claims remain unconfirmed. In 1973. the FAN developed into a small but effective army. worked intensively to make such schedule work. Habré organized an uprising against his former compatriot Oueddei. After last French troops left Chad. this along other foreign influences and political rivalries between two factions – one led by Hassan Habré and the other by Goukouni Oueddei – caused the outbreak of a fierce civil war. this caused a French and US reaction in support of Habré‟s “Forces Armée du Nord” (FAN) with arms and supplies mainly coming from the West via bases in Sudan. In 1981. but also inside Sudan. an area supposedly rich on oil and uranium reserves. and it is very likely that the operations of the USN‟s 6th Fleet in the Gulf of Syrte. a former French colony. supported by their hosts. and the crews of the 1120th Sqn. and – as already described – two other Iraqi Blinder pilots were captured after being shot down while flying other aircraft. Syrian. and the Libyan ruler Ghaddafi soon showed little restraint when using the Blinders in Chad.

the peace would not last for long. however. The aircraft was initially incorrectly claimed as either a "Libyan bomber" or even a "Libyan Tu-22". the FAN started a swift offensive and captured the Chadian capital.” because it was known at the time that Libyan Blinders had flown a number of strikes against targets in Sudan. Of interest is the squadron crest. Egypt. . All the weapons missed and instead blasted three civilian houses. shot down over Sudan on 16 September 1981. while the US deployed two carrier battle groups to the Gulf of Syrte. in Egypt. the Libyans continued to send Tu-22Bs to strike other targets in Chad and Sudan. and these saw widespread service with the military. via authors) The Libyan ruler was so enraged by the loss of the Warrior that he ordered another “power projection” to be undertaken by the 1110th Sqn. Libya purchased over 260 SF. This time Omdurman. carried on the fin. as well as with civilian air clubs. Unperturbed. In the spring of the same year. The Egyptians promptly dispatched a squadron of F-4Es to the Sudanese border. Oueddei and the Libyans. Nevertheless. as well as eight F-15Cs and a single E-3A AWACS to Cairo West AB. By early 1982. the second largest city in Sudan.260WL Warrior. The mission was flown in late September by a single Tu22B that dropped three FAB-500 bombs. the attack caused considerable dismay in Sudan. killing three and injuring another 20 civilians in the process. enabling dozens of new pilots to be trained .down a Libyan SF. and the US.260 over the border .260s in different versions. a OAU peace-keeping force was positioned at N‟Djamena. attacking some 20 additional objectives by November.” or even a “Tu-22. Wreck of a LARAF SIAI-Marchetti SF. when the Organization of African Unity (OAU) managed to negotiate a ceasefire between FAN. (US DoD. installing Habré as the new president and forcing Oueddei to flee to Libya.several of whom subsequently flew Tu-22s.this was initially reported to be a “bomber. together with the LARAF serial "341". was to be attacked.

Simultaneously. retaking Abéché and Faya by 31 July 1983. consisting of simple green fields. and launched an offensive against the FAN.000 strong Libyan “Islamic Brigade” (essentially a mechanized unit manned by Libyan and other Arab volunteers) – moved into northern Chad. LARAF Ilyushin Il-76.the green color eventually became "bleached" to chocolate brown. and its aircraft flew hundreds of missions over following weeks. new markings were introduced by the LARAF. Libyan aircraft were much closer to the front and able to give constant air support. The bombing campaign was not only intensive. dispatching 1. via authors) Habré‟s counter-offensive provoked a fierce Libyan response. Operating from Aouzou and Faya.1EDs patrolled along the 16th parallel to keep any eventual French reinforcements or Zairian Mirages away from the battlefields in the north. When the GUNT and the Libyan “Islamic Brigade” continued their advance southward. and at least 35 tons of French aid in arms and ammunition. and Boeing-Vertol CH47 Chinooks transporters were able to fly supplies closer to the units. in the summer of 1981. and in July.750 soldiers and three Mirage 5Ms to N‟Djaména. Lockheed C-130 Hercules. successfully scattering several FAN units that were underway in the barren and open desert. however. supported by intensive LARAF operations. as illustrated on this Tu-22B intercepted by USN fighters high over the Mediterranean Sea. Mirage F.during the whole campaign only one . the GUNT – supported by the 2. During the 1980s many aircraft began to show signs of their heavy use and permanent exposure to the elements . while Mil Mi-8 and Mi24 helicopters were also deployed on a number of smaller forward strips to support ground troops. and over the next few days. LARAF – now operating from Faya Largeau as well – dispatched dozens of Tu-22Bs. Zaire came to the aid of the FAN. (USN photo. Habré‟s forces were unable to stop the onslaught of the much improved enemy. This. Habré – after suffering considerable losses – was forced to pull FAN back into southern Chad. In addition. so he helped Oueddei organize a new and better-equipped armed force under the auspices of the “Gouvernment d‟Unité Nationale Tchadienne” (GUNT). in the summer of 1977. After the short war with Egypt. Libyan Mirage F. Mirage 5Ds. Ghaddafi was not amused by the new situation. Tu-22Bs were foremost used to pound the airfield and base at Faya Largeau. but also precise. gave the FAN the ability to counter the offensive.1ADs and Su-22M-2/-3Ks to attack various targets. so also on "Blinders of the 1110th and 1120th BS. By April 1983. Spearheading this attack was again the LARAF.Of course. and soon Ghaddafi felt strong enough to reinforce the Libyan contingent and start a fully-fledged invasion of Chad. The FAN lacked means to counter Libyan air power .

up to 2. Yet. and forced them to deploy a MIM-23B I-HAWK SAM site to the Chadian capital – with the help of USAF C-5A Galaxy transports. French Jaguars and Mirage F. defended by one SA-6 SAM site and numerous ZSU23-4 flak batteries. the bomber swiftly climbed to 5. He became obsessed with purchasing not only more aircraft than the LARAF could need.030 meters and accelerated past Mach 1. Contrary to some reports. Habré was finally forced to call France for direct assistance.in fact. there was no spares shortage .800m long runway was built. Mirage 5Ds.Su-22M-2K was shot down (on 4 August 1983. Mirage F. where a 3. deploying a larger contingent of the Foreign Legion into Chad. the LARAF established a major air base at a barren location called Ouadi Doum. causing considerable damage to the runway and also several air defence systems. blocking the Libyan advance. Additional strain was put on the LARAF. whose forces had been pulled back to the Central African Republic. the pilot was captured). one of the reasons that Libya purchased so many combat aircraft in the 1970s was that Ghaddafi was shocked by the huge losses of Arab air forces during the war against Israel in 1973. a single Tu-22B crossed the 16th Parallel along a commercial air corridor. French reinforcements were deployed along the 16th Parallel. France. when a unit each of MiG-23MS. and descended to very low level while continuing on a southerly course.1ADs. causing the supply lines from northern Libya to the limit.on the next morning. This time it was the French who were taken by surprise . This time. The “Toyota Wars” The situation in Chad had stabilized by early 1984. Approaching N‟Djamena. and on 5 August 1983. or maintain. Within days. This base had barely become operational.000 French soldiers were deployed to N‟Djamena with the help of US C-141 Starlifter transports as part of “Operation Manta”. when in 1986 fighting erupted once again with a new GUNT offensive towards N‟Djamena. Su-20/-22s. and both sides tried to consolidate their positions. however. and partly because at the time most Pakistani „advisors‟ had left the country. On the morning of 16 February 1986. closing the airfield for several hours. the French decided to achieve air superiority over the battlefield by removing the threat of the Libyans operating out of Ouadi Doum AB. and at least a pair of Tu-22Bs were permanently stationed in Chad. when its personnel and most of the aircraft were transferred to the First Bomber Squadron to help lessen the maintenance load caused by the permanent alert status and frequent combat operations. The precision and success of this attack – as well as a subsequent reconnaissance run over N‟Djamena by a lonesome Libyan MiG-25R – shocked the French. Libyan Tu-22 operations were so intensive in 1986 that the Second Bomber Squadron abruptly ceased flying. but also stockpiling vast quantities of spare parts (so many that the LARAF would never be able to use them all up). With northern Chad under the firm control of the GUNT and Libyan expeditionary forces. Libyans prepared its revenge in under 24 hours . initiated “Operation Épervier”.1Cs – originally based at Bangui in the Central African Republic – flew a very successful strike against this airfield. Although taken completely by surprise by the fierce French reaction. Since the LARAF continued to cause heavy losses to FAN forces. operate. This build-up of French forces in March 1986 coincided with a decline in LARAF strength. .the sole Blinder dropped three bombs very precisely: one hit the taxiway and two others struck the runway. partly caused by very intensive operations.

and encouraged by the absence of the LARAF.000 Libyan troops deployed in the country. On 2 January 1987. (US DoD. causing heavy losses. Libyan ZRK-KUB SA-6 launcher vehicle. after catastrophic Libyan losses. especially after Oueddei was wounded in a firefight in the Libyan capital. Habré felt strong enough to begin an offensive that would eventually expel over 10. and its Mirage F. reinforced by deliveries of MANPADs and guided anti-tank missiles. This base fell to FAN troops two days later. via authors) . and arrested by Ghaddafi‟s police. the LARAF reacted with a series of air strikes. on 15 April. Instead. Again. on 19 March 1987. and forced Libyans to flee toward Ouadi Doum. flown mainly by Tu-22Bs.1Cs prevented the LARAF from being as effective as before by making it too risky for the Blinders to strike concentrations of FAN troops and their supply bases. however. Su-22s and MiG-23BNs. while suffering only minimal casualties. the French Air Force was now active over the front. and used to shoot down a Tu-22. forward elements of FAN overrun southern Libyan positions and advanced toward north. and inspected by Chadian troops in 1987.From March to April 1986 the Libyans were also engaged in a series of clashes with US forces in the Gulf of Syrte that culminated with the combined USN-USAF strike against Benghazi and Tripoli. By the end of 1986. this type of missile was turned against its former owner. Later that year. The situation in Chad calmed down. captured by FAN during the fighting near Ouadi Doum. FAN crushed two powerful Libyan counter-attacks in central and eastern Chad.

Realizing these could not catch the TU22s in time. plus a large amount of communication equipment and ammunition. Both in this. Mirages. Arriving in the middle of the night. On the early morning of 7 September 1987. he clandestinely gathered 2. four Blinders penetrated the Chadian airspace. The second section was not much more successful either. Such attacks continued for the following months. They also recovered the wreckage of the cockpit – with the bodies of the crew. the Chadians rushed one of the SA-6s – captured from the Libyans – into service as well. Interesting. but it seems that not a single of the six crewmembers survived the downing of their bombers.The Chadians. however. that was defending the airfield of the Chadian capital instead. and the Libyans suffered catastrophic losses. MiG-21s. and promised a considerable reward for them being recovered alive. and two SF. they drove over the border and 300km deep to the main Libyan air base at Ma‟atan Bishrah. the FAN caught the Libyans in their underwear . including 26 Su-22s. Ghaddafi was outraged. On the morning of 23 March.260s. however. Once again. all of which were captured intact. the Libyan leader was determined to show his might. Eventually the French recovered much of the wreckage. and two Mi-24s (both shot down while attempting to take-off). However. two Tu-22Bs attempted an attack against the airfield at Abéché and one Blinder was hit by one of two SA-6s fired: the crew was killed instantly. scoring a hit that caused one of the Blinders to explode into several large pieces – which were then targeted by Crotale SAMs of a locally based French Air Force battery. together with all the equipment for at least one SA-6 and one SA-8 SAM site. the Libyans initiated intensive SAR operations for any survivors. and was blamed – in front of all the pilots – for depriving the Armée de‟l Air of its first combat aircraft kill since the end of the World War Two! The other Tu-22 en route to attack N‟Djamena aborted and disappeared without dropping any bombs.000 fighters in northern Chad.1Cs to intercept. Additional Blinders and other Libyan fighters then also bombed Faya Largeau and several other towns captured by FAN. However. the LARAF responded by dispatching two Tu-22Bs that bombed Ouadi Doum. and even if it . These turned out to have been Europeans. and Americans were delighted to find stores of Soviet-built equipment that the Libyans had left behind. Their ground control in N‟Djamena detected the approach of the Blinders and vectored a pair of French Air Force Mirage F. trying to destroy the captured equipment. two closing on Abéché and two on N‟Djamena. Before dawn. MiG-23s. The spoiled Blinder-raid was too much for Habré . including the landing gear that is now on display at the entry gate of the artillery regiment that scored the kill. eleven L-39ZO trainers. including two Tu-22B Blinders. the French were ready.by late August 1987. three Mi-24 Hind helicopters. This time. In addition.within two hours the airfield and the adjacent base were completely demolished. FAN troops withdrew back into Chad. and ordered one more raid to be undertaken by the Tu-22Bs of the 1110th Sqn. French Army. French. later identified as East Germans. the controller that initiated the intercept had subsequently to report to the commander of the French Air Force detachment in N‟Djamena. On 8 August 1987. which claimed several Libyan aircraft. On the night of 4 September 1987. and many of his military staff paid with their heads for this catastrophe. they then ordered the Mirages to stay away and handed the intercept to a battery of the 402nd Air Defence Regiment. by this time the FAN was equipped with US-supplied Redeye and Egyptian SA-7 (Sakr-Eye) MANPADs. and in the case of the Blinder downed by Chadian SA-6 on 8 August. This fired one or two MIM-23B I-HAWK SAMs.

except that there were far fewer of them and that most were beyond their anticipated airframe life or beyond repair. while trying to land at Brach. This bomber should have been destroyed by US air strikes in the following month. and dozens of combat sorties flown against targets in Sudan. in apparently good condition. a cease-fire was signed by all the parties involved and – with the exclusion of a few more air raids by the LARAF. As in Iraq. are stored at al Jufra / Hun AB. By early 1988. When al-Taqaddum was captured by the units of the Australian SAS in May 2003. It appears that although all surviving Tu-22Bs were refurbished in the USSR in 1989 and 1990. only five Tu-22Bs and a single Tu-22U remained operational by 1992: the last flight of a Libyan Blinder was recorded on 7 September of that year. the war in Chad. they were replaced in service by Su24MKs. while another is derelict at Mitiga AB. the LARAF MiG-25Rs also stopped flying reconnaissance missions over Chad. The fate of the remaining three airframes out of the total 16 delivered is unknown. This unit was now added to all the remaining six Tu-16s and H-6Ds of the 8th Bomber Squadron (at least one of which was equipped with Sovietsupplied UPAZ-1 Sakhalin pods and acted as a tanker). the wrecks of the former proud and sizeable bomber fleet of the IrAF were still lying in their revetments: all were given to two scrap merchants from Baghdad. when on the first night of Operation “Desert Storm” the USAF F-117As appeared undetected over al-Taqaddum. The fate of the Libyan Tu-22s was different . Consequently. it can be definitely confirmed that 7 Blinders. which in turn re-qualified on Sukhoi Su-24MKs. but it is likely that some – if not all three – were lost in accidents over the years. US and UK pilots detected it airborne several times as late as March 2003 – occasionally accompanied by the sole surviving Iraqi Su-24MK. but they were hardly used at all. flown in early October. all were stationed – still with the 7th Bomber Squadron – at al-Taqqadum AB. The sole surviving B-6D was recovered and made operational only in the year 2002. Four were lost in Chad – two shot down and two abandoned at Ouadi Doum – and one example was lost in an accident in the 1980‟s. in the early morning of 17 January 1991. the Iraqis were actually planning to completely replace them with Su-24s. Through analyzing satellite and ground level images. . Only five Tu-22Bs and Tu-22Us remained intact in Iraq. the Iraqi bombers were caught still inside their revetments and reduced to piles of scrap by direct hits from laser-guided bombs.managed to drop its bombs all 24 missed the target and hit houses near the Abéché airfield. With the relatively recent advent of publicly available satellite imagery. and turned into aluminum ingots. End of the line in Iraq and Libya By 1989. the war was actually over. killing several civilians. it can be concluded that there was a total of 8 Tu-22 wrecks present at alTaqaddum before being melted down. Although afterwards the Libyans amassed several brigades on the Chadian border. during which the FAN shot down a Su-22M-3K and a MiG-23MS using newly acquired FIM-92A Stingers – it was largely observed by both sides. and on 11 September 1987. When Gulf War II broke out.out of the airframes that survived attrition. both the Iraqi and the Libyan Tu-22 fleets were in the same condition they had been more than ten years previously.

and also as area denial weapons with delayed fuses that would detonate the bombs up to six days after they had been dropped. Unfortunately. while lower surfaces were pale grey. and the cost of the ongoing conflict became unbearable by the economically precarious USSR.Right from the start of their service with these two Arab Air Forces. they dropped mainly FAB-1500 and FAB-3000 heavy bombs. In October 1988. During their bombing missions over Afghanistan. (artwork by Tom Cooper) Iraqi Air Force Tu-22B serial 1113. The Gorbachev government decided it was time to end the military presence in Afghanistan. (artwork by Tom Cooper) Silent Service in Afghanistan The last combat sorties flown by Libyan Blinders in 1987. Soviet Long-Range Aviation. as well as Tu-22M2 and Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers had been used over Afghanistan before. which were used against known targets. TBAP were deployed to Mary-2 AB in the Soviet Republic of Turkmenistan. . In the late 1980s. during the final stages of the Afghanistan War. and Iraqi examples in 1988. to prevent the Afghan Mujaheddin from overrunning every position abandoned by the Soviets. in the case of Libyan Tu-22s no serials are known. To cover the retreat a massive use of firepower was deemed necessary. The last combat sorties flown by the type were undertaken by examples in service with their original user. Soviet involvement in Afghanistan was losing political and popular support. It appears that Tu-22Bs were serialed 1101 to 1114. two squadrons of Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers from Poltava‟s 185. Although Tu-16 Badgers. were not to be the final missions flown by the Tu-22. the Iraqi and Libyan "Blinders" carried different camouflage colors. during the withdrawal Long-Range Aviation‟s bombers had to take over the role from departing Frontal Aviation units and delay the Mujaheddin. showing the typical camouflage of the Iraqi Blinders. though applied in the same pattern of broad dark green stripes over tan (in the case of Libyan examples) or olive green (on Iraqi examples) on the upper sides of the fuselage and wings. none being visible on any of the available photos. and completed the withdrawal of Soviet contingent by February of 1989.

there was always a potential threat from the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) F-16A Fighting Falcon interceptors. Consequently. even if some other Soviet and Afghan aircraft – including the Su-25 flown by Alexander Rutskoy. and no PAF interceptor was encountered. and most of its weapons – with exception of the FAB-500 bombs – were too malfunction-prone to allow better bombing results – regardless of the plane operating at high speeds and altitudes. their last mission had been flown several years earlier. There are reports that the Tu-22PD BlinderE‟s of the 203 DBAP entered Pakistani airspace several times completely unnoticed by PAF‟s air defenses. Instead of being deployed in regiment-sized formations against larger NATO bases in the western Europe. ***************** In summary. dashing at high speeds over targets in their neighboring countries. The subsequent collapse of the USSR eventually sealed the fate of the remaining Blinders. but such rumors were never confirmed. its bomb-aiming system. they were pulled back after only several weeks. Soviet and East German pilots and weapons system operators could not improve the situation: as a matter of fact. the lack of proper targeting information. but also – due to technical reliability – to a great degree also on a fair amount of luck. the Tu-22PDs of the 314 DBAP. The same must be concluded about the Tu-22K: the Kh-22 was a highly unreliable weapon. In total. As a result. This was caused foremost by usual need to develop proper bombing-techniques for use in conjunction with an exceptionally tricky weapon aiming system. the results of their bombing attacks were rather mixed. and in January of the following year the jammer-Blinders were replaced with four Tu-22PDs from the 203 DBAP. even the Tu-22M-2/- . or from low levels. Backfires needed ECM cover to jam PAF early-warning radars. During missions over Afghanistan. Their only mission was cancelled. indicate that only one in 12 missiles functioned as advertised by the manufacturer. Although nominally still on strength with the Ukrainian Air Force well into the late 1990s. and also poor tactics. in most cases Iraqi and Libyan Blinders flew one-. which were the only ones to regularly deploy this acid-propelled weapon in combat. however. in the period between 1981 and 1986. and the aircraft returned to Nezhin within a week. on 3 November 1989. The Tu-22B. which had already downed numerous Soviet and Afghan aircraft over that area. In December 1989. the jamming capabilities of the Blinder-E proved successful. However. or his skills and experience. and expected from the crews. While they managed to evade most of enemy fighters sent against them. Even this result was only achieved by intense efforts of Iraqi ground and flying crews. in order to remain out of reach of ground based defenses or interceptors. were also deployed to Mary-2 AB. or against USN carriers in the Mediterranean Sea. being stationed at Mozdok AB. the Tu-22s were used against enemies and over areas they were never intended to fly. the Tu-22s never proved entirely satisfactory. for photographic reconnaissance duties over Afghanistan. usually stationed at Baranovichi AB. or three-ship missions. and even the Soviet blaming of “poorly trained” Arab crews for the lack of success could not avert the fact that the precision of every single attack undertaken by the type was not only depending on the training of the weapons operator. two-.Since a lot of targets for Badgers and Backfires were located in the Khost region. leaving Mary-2 in February as soon as the last Soviet troops had been pulled back from Afghanistan. and available reports about its deployment in Iraq. near the border with Pakistan. a malfunction-prone aircraft. usually based at Ozernoye. This last short combat deployment of Tu-22 Blinders ended with three Tu-22RDs of 199 ODRAP from Nezhin AB. who later became Russian Vice President and later Governor of Kursk– were intercepted and shot down by PAF F-16s during the same time-frame. Tu-22M-3s from Poltava were replaced with similar aircraft from OrshaBalbasovo AB.

the Iranians out-maneuvered and overwhelmed the main contingent of the Iraqi Army (Iran) inside the Iranian province of Khuzestan. (Authors' Collection) The Iran-Iraq War started on 22 September 1980. two out . Flying in a classic formation. After 18 months of fighting.000 troops. while the Iraqi Army invaded Iran on several spots along the international border. as well as the strike against the Khark. over 20. This attack caused an all-out war. Fire in the Hills: Iranian and Iraqi Battles of Autumn 1982 In the late summer and early autumn of 1982. and a long.000 to 150. in 1988.205s is seen from another Iranian helicopter while transporting troops deep behind the Iraqi lines on the southern part of the Moharram TO. bitter struggle between the two countries began. During this fighting. In a series of offensives undertaken between March and June.000 captured.3s deployed over Afghanistan were still suffering from similar problems. in autumn 1982. which was completely liberated in the process.000 Iraqi soldiers were killed and almost 30. but also some of the most controversial – and best known – claims of this war. the two neighbors fought some of the fiercest battles of the whole First Persian Gulf War. The fighting in this area was not as massive as during many larger operations conducted before and afterwards. it included extensive use of air power by both sides. in the Sumar hills on the border between Iraq and Iran. the Iranian ground forces finally managed to organize themselves sufficiently to expel Iraqi forces from Iranian soil. Yet. The raids of the lonesome Libyan Tu-22Bs against the airfield at N‟Djamena in 1986. remain the two best-known of very few perfect examples of what could have been achieved with this aircraft – if it was more properly developed in the first place. the Iraqi military was truly battered: its strength fell from 210. producing not only remarkable results. resembling that seen so often when UH-1s of the US Army operated in South East Asia. when Iraqi air force fighter-bombers and bombers bombed almost every Iranian airfield in their range. a section of IRIAA AB. in 1982.

after rejecting another UN call for a ceasefire. Instead a decision was taken to crush the Iraqi war machine by capturing one area after the other. there was a potential to conclude the lengthy UN. politicians and military officers.of four active armored divisions and at least three mechanized divisions were decimated to less than a brigade strength. the poorly-trained Pasdaran and Basij forces attacked some of the heaviest fortified Iraqi positions in the Zeid (Fish Lake) and Shalamcheh areas. that the Iraqis had learned about the preparations for RAMADHAN. and the Iranians captured also over 450 tanks and armored personnel carriers. Bringing the War to Iraq Instead. before military equipment shortages and depreciations began to take their toll. were beyond the reach of the IRGC at the time. It was the first in a catalogue of huge mistakes. this required negotiations with the regime in Baghdad and that was something the Iranian leadership would not consider. Having achieved this. On 14 July 1982. but they lacked proper intelligence. and after a week of fighting were stopped in a hail of Iraqi defensive fire and flanking maneuvers. The Iraqi Air Force (IrAF) was left in no better shape. The Iraqi Army Air Corps (IrAAC) was perhaps in a better shape. As a result. It was completely unknown to them. the IRGC started the Operation RAMADHAN. and end the war. which was to be captured regardless of losses. The Iranians felt they were fighting for a just cause – ending Iraqi occupation of the oil-rich Khuzestan. some came forward with a plan for a bold and massive all-out thrust towards Baghdad. in June 1982. leaders in Tehran decided to bring the war into Iraq. The fighting in 1982 also took its tolls of the Iranian forces. The Iranians just had to decide how to reach this objective. seemingly because the Iranian political and clerical leaderships were not interested in a swift end to the war. deluded by their own successes. but bring it to a verge of defeat. revealed that the IrAF had only three squadrons of fighter-bombers left capable of mounting offensive operations into Iran at the time. . and after losing up to 55 aircraft since early December 1981. they had to decide about their next step. particularly now that the position of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein seemed much weaker. however. who were against a longer war. however. The Iranians supposed – wrongly – that they would hit one of the weak points in the enemy defenses whilst Iraqi military was still in turmoil after recent defeats. better known as “Pasdaran”) would cause unrest or even uprisings from within the Iraqi Shi‟ite society. but losses were not as heavy as those suffered by the Iraqis and – despite the hard-felt lack of heavy weapons and empty ammunition depots – spirits were high. and had reinforced the defenses of Basrah by additional units pulled back from the central and northern front sectors. As an alternative. accept the Saudi and Kuwaiti offers to pay reparations for the damage caused by the Iraqi invasion of Iran. Theoretically. Basrah. The first strategic objective was the capture of the second-largest Iraqi city. Such ideas were dismissed. Even the Iranian Chieftain main battle tanks (MBTs) and BMP-1 armored personnel carriers (APCs) of the 16th and 92nd Armored Division could not change the outcome. The professional military officers. so through the summer numerous meetings were held between leading clerics. suggested that it needed to be concluded swiftly. But. could count with barely 100 intact fighter-bombers and interceptors: a defector who flew his MiG-21 to Syria. and could still operate more than 70 helicopters.and Algerian-mediated negotiations with several Arab states. The military objectives. and topple the regime in Baghdad. which was later not only to cost Iran a clear-cut victory in the war. in a hope that a series of massive blows delivered foremost by the Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards Corps units (IRGC.

and continued to bulldoze their way towards Basrah into the month of August. While the Iranians were making up their mind and organizing their first series of offensives into Iraq. but stopped in September 1980. the Iraqis were working intensively to reorganize their damaged forces. During 1982. 3rd. trying to suppress the anti-aircraft positions. Only a final intervention by the IRIAA AH-1J Cobra gunships saved the remaining Iranian armored formations from certain destruction. while simultaneously purchasing new equipment from every possible source – and mainly with the help of Saudi and Kuwaiti loans. 22nd and 33rd Artillery Groups.1EQ fighters. Bell 214s. Expecting the Iranians would come back sooner or later. using the confusion to fire their HOT anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) against singled out Iranian tanks. 5th and 7th Infantry Divisions IRGC. . Bell 206s. Finally. the Iraqis now initiated a series of air raids against the Iranian economy and civilian installations in the cities along the border. they managed to re-establish contacts with Moscow. The Islamic Republic of Iran Army Aviation (IRIAA) also deployed a sizeable helicopter division. The Gazelles would follow. and making preparations for the defence of their country. all of which had been captured from the Iraqis during the previous engagements and for the first time were being grouped as independent units. But the Iraqis – instructed also by a team of East German advisors – now started operating their Mil Mi-25 Hind and Aérospatiale SA. as it put the best capabilities of both helicopter types to advantage: the Mi-25s would go in first and roll over the Iranian positions firing 57mm unguided rockets. The tactics used by the IrAAC hunter/killer teams was simple but highly effective. 58th Commando and 23rd Special Forces Brigades. huge numbers of tanks and F-7B fighters were ordered in China. as well as the 1st. Additional deals with France were also concluded. This tactic later developed into the well-known “Tanker War”. which were later to develop into distinct and familiar patterns of this war – the so-called “War of the Cities” in which the IrAF played a dominant role. In addition. Iranian armored units were supported by the 21st and 77th Infantry Divisions. the strategy initiated a war of attrition that lasted right to the end of the First Persian Gulf War and resulted in heavy destruction on both sides. and enabled them to pull back. which proved especially effective. as the Iranians soon started to retaliate by targeting the Iraqi oil industry with precision air strikes. and a number of Bell 204s. in the end they suffered such heavy losses both in men and tanks that a counterattack by the Iraqi armored formations threatened to completely annihilate them.342L Gazelle attack helicopters in “hunter/killer” teams. where most of the Iranian oil exports were loaded. convincing the Soviets to restart deliveries of aircraft and tanks ordered already in 1979. In the event. and Boeing CH-47 Chinooks in support role. including selfpropelled artillery. the IRGC for the first time deployed some of its armor – mainly T-55 MBTs and Type 63/531 APCs of the recently-established 30th Armored Division IRGC.During this offensive. ammunitions and heavy weapons. including orders for more Mirage F. SAMs. they started targeting Iranian and international shipping in the Persian Gulf along the Iranian coast and the Khark Island. Even if the IRIA and IRGC armored units had put up a persistent fight. including 34 Bell AH-1J/T Cobras.

of which 214 SAR crew were Maj. Jamshid Pour-Azad and Capt. three Iraqi MiGs suddenly appeared in the sky over the Iranian helicopters. The Iranians speeded away.1EQs joined the foray and quickly targeted one of the Iranian fighters with air-to-air missiles. When this experienced problems with Iraqi defenses. who wasted no time in starting and taking off to the rescue of the downed Phantom crew. consisting of three AH-1 Cobras and one Bell 214 as SAR asset. The IRIAF FAC-officer responsible for the area was swift to request air cover for the firing team. Gheibi. The team safely made it back to its base. Iraqi anti-aircraft fire opened fire. This moment of joy did not last long. The IRIAA firing teams. On the way towards the predicted landing zone. before one of the Iraqi MiGs burst into flames and turned towards Iraq trailing smoke. because soon two IrAF Mirage F. and Iraqi snipers tried their best to hunt down the downed pilots hanging under their parachutes. The Iraqis responded with vicious helicopter attacks. As soon as the Phantom pilot touched the ground. as two huge Mi-25 Hinds decided to give a chase to the SAR team. The vehicles seen here were caught in the open and destroyed or disabled by hits from HOT ATGMs. The Phantom‟s rear fuselage caught fire and dived toward the ground. continuously pounded Iraqi positions. The Opponents Following the costly failures at Shalamcheh and east of Basrah in July. despite Iraqi aircraft and helicopter gunships operating in the area. Chieftain tanks of the Iranian Army were also sent to help. In the meantime the helicopter team landed on a designated emergency range and witnessed the close turning dogfight overhead. and soon two IRIAF F-4 Phantoms entered the fight and intercepted the Iraqis. (Authors' Collection) Eyewitness Account It was the second morning of the Operation Ramadhan.During the fighting between Shalamcheh and Basrah. during the rest of the . trying to reach the positions of their ground forces. This alarmed the SAR helicopter crew. However this was not the end to the ordeal. but were seen landing on the direction of the Iraqi positions. the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps deployed its armor for the first time in the war. to a degree that they persistently asked over the radio for air cover. in the summer of 1982. Pour-Azad could see air-to-air missiles being exchanged. the SAR chopper landed beside him and picked him up. the suppressing fire from which forced the Iraqis to change their minds and turn back. the navigator also made a hard landing and was quickly picked up too. During one such mission. Both pilots ejected safely. Moments later. deploying "Hunter-Killer" teams of their Mi-25 and Gazelle helicopters.

and one special forces brigade. the Iranian troops were first to isolate the Iraqi pocket in Naft Shahr. suffering only minimal losses in exchange for a considerable number of airto-air kills as well.and close-air-support sorties during the Operations Rhamadan.5 at Omidiyeh. Instead it had a series of . and then capturing the Iraqi border city of Mandali. and the 11th Infantry Division. most of these units were still not back to their full strength. Namazian. The first from a series of offensives was code-named MUSLIM-IBN-AQIL. R. A. if an appropriate crack in the Iraqi defenses could be caused. respectively. and breaking a whole part of the front. reinforced by at least one artillery. This was an operation prepared by Iranian I Army Corps. led by Maj. including two dozen Bell AH-1J Cobras and Bell 214A Isfahans. still held by the Iraqis. some 65nm (120km) northeast of Baghdad – the ultimate goal being Baghdad itself. including the 28th Mechanized Infantry Division (28th MID). The Iranian commanders always hopped that by making surprise attacks against Iraqi lines on the central or northern front there was a small possibility of catching the Iraqi Army off balance. Rostami. Meanwhile. consisting of the 3rd “Salaheddin” Armored Division. Sadeghi and Capt. or overstretched. Jamalan. Salmaan and Capt. Muslim-Ibn-Aqil and Moharram. and the 81st Armored Division (81st AD). (Artwork by Tom Cooper) The air support for the operation was to be given by a battalion of the IRIAA from the Kermanshah Army Aviation Group. the 5th and 6th Mechanized Divisions. A. R. which were reinforced by a large number of Pasdaran and Basij that had to suppress their petty rivalries and work together with the IRIAS against the Iraqi Army.hot summer. even if it had no permanently stationed units in the area.3 armed with up to four Hunting BL. IRIAF F-4Es from TFB.this time listening to the Joint Chiefs of the Islamic Republic of Iran Armed Forces (IRIAS) and preparing operations directed towards Baghdad.3 near Hamedan. and commanded by Capt. the Iranians changed the direction of their push . commanded by Col. newly rebuilt and equipped with T-72 tanks.755 CBUs flew a number of interdiction. initiated at a place from which the Iraqi capital was only 120km away. prepared between seven and nine Northrop F-5E Tiger IIs. The operation targeted liberation of some Iranian territory west of the Sumar hills. They were forward-based near Sumar and were to play a crucial role in supplying ammunitions to the advancing Iranian ground forces. and then reach the Mandali-Baqubah road at a point some 41nm (75km) from the Iraqi capital. H. where the Iraqi Army held a large depot with huge vehicle parks and workshops. In addition. led by Capt. For this purpose. Khalili. the IRIAF prepared some 14 or 15 McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom IIs from the 31st and 33rd Tactical Fighter Squadrons (TFS) at the TFB. the 51st and 53rd TFS from the TFB. Facing this limited Iranian task force was the whole Iraqi III Army Corps. S. but the Iraqi Army could count on increasingly effective support from its IrAAC. respectively. At the time.

all equipped with pre-positioned fuel and ammunitions. near the Presidential Palace in Baghdad (where they acted as escorts for helicopters used by Saddam and his family). flying hundreds of sorties every day: on 30 October 1980. during preparations for invasion on Iran. the Iraqis lacked proper equipment – the heavily armed Mil Mi-8 was the workhorse of the IrAAC and while it was ideal for transporting troops and supplies.64 Assault. Routba. which already then had to learn to evade heavily armed Iraqi helicopters and their devastating firepower. Baiji. Mi-25s of the No. designations of which were in the range 60+ (probably 61 thru 68) and which boasted only some 70 operational helicopters in total. especially in the connection with the Mi-25 Hinds. Equally. Mousel. and for artillery spotting. the No. their missiles having devastating effects when used to target caves: the Kurds learned to fear the small French helicopter more than anything else. Each helicopter squadron was deployed in several detachments. foremost Mi-8s. Mousel and Falujah. it was too large and inadequately-equipped for anti-tank duties. The IrAAC was not yet a fully developed – even if well-trained and competent – force. It was based on the model of the French Army Aviation (ALAT). On many occasions it could do little more but to copy Iranian tactics. and its flying crews and technicians were mainly trained in France. and Special Operations Squadron. Nevertheless.12 ATGMs. K. the IrAAC is known to have flown no less but 120 attack sorties. They were previously used in attacks on Kurdish insurgents. Transport. and Kirkuk. frequently put into use against villages and refugee convoys. Maj. the 1st and the 2nd). This air arm participated in the war right since the start. For example. Iraqi Mi-25s frequently operated from sites near several large early warning radar sites. the IrAAC was reorganized into two “Attack Transport Helicopter Wings”. and SA.11 and AS. Alouettes were mostly used as liaison helicopters.316Cs (later on. forced them to invest heavily in the increasing effectiveness of their arms – including their IrAAC. or Tallil. and its officers still had much to learn about heliborne operations. SA. most of which had been catastrophic for the Iraqis. Training. Iraqi Mi-25s The IrAAC was established in late July and early August 1980. the IrAAC operated a total of eight squadrons. A‟ti commanded the . Mi-25s. Alouette IIIs were equipped with heavy machine-guns as well as French-made AS. Jalibah. The other French-built helicopter in service was the Aérospatiale SA. Training and Special Operations Squadron were deployed in two detachments and were based at Kut. for example. The fact that their invasion ended with a failure which cost them dearly. Transport. the Iraqis were willing to learn and stubborn: despite severe losses they had suffered in the two years of the war with Iran. procured in the early 1970s. had eight Mi-25s permanently based in pairs at Samarah. Soviet Union and the UK.316C Alouette III. and too vulnerable to Iranian interceptors. By 1982. During the fighting in autumn 1982. Nasseriyah. the Aérospatiale SA. in northern Iraq. They were ready to invite foreign advisors and listen to any good ideas they had. and – until the arrival of the first larger shipments of HOT ATGMs from France – also inadequately equipped for the anti-tank role. the unit which operated all the Iraqi Mi-25s.342Ls and Mi-25s. distributed along the front. which time and again became targets for notorious Iranian commando raids. and equipped to drop bombs filled with chemical weapons – besides the usual SA. Kirkuk. However. Nevertheless. to which reinforcements could be sent as needed. from where they could also operate against the Kurds. at Kut. 64 Assault. Other Hind pairs were usually based at Basrah.main bases and forward airfields. It operated all the helicopters used to support the Army.342 Gazelle was too lightly armored.342L Gazelles.

in order to enable the more vulnerable Gazelles to use the HOT ATGMs.northern detachment. Although this weapon was delivered to the Iraqi Army even . which consisted of the most capable and most loyal Iraqi helicopter pilots. the Iraqis never considered their Mi-25s to be “anti-tank” helicopters. the Soviets did all the combat testing for the AT-6 in Afghanistan. where they could constantly cover any movement of the Iraqi top leaders. followed by four more in June of the same year. Badreldeen commanded the southern detachment. the IrAAC invited a team of East German advisors to help develop better tactical methods for the use of the Hind in combat – a fact still fiercely disputed by a number of high-ranking Iraqi officers. Finally. Ralf Geschke. as a part of a huge agreement which by 1979 saw total orders for no less than 250 other Soviet-built aircraft and helicopters (most of them were delivered only after 1982. the Iraqis ordered sixteen new Mi-25s (despite the fact that “officially” Moscow had declared an embargo on the export of weapons to Iraq after it invaded Iran). six remained operational with the 4th Squadron of the newly formed IrAAC. Recalling the fact that especially the IRIAF F-5 pilots developed a predilection for hunting down Iraqi helicopters over the front. Transport. they disliked the weaknesses of the weapons system – which lacked precision and reliability – as well as the size of the helicopter and its lack of agility.64 “Assault. the former IrAAC Mi-25 pilot. Also. The Soviets were particularly slow to deliver Hinds at the time. however. praising its good range. contrary to other reports. in which Mi-25s were used to suppress Iranian air defenses. nor was this weapon – contrary to numerous reports in the Western and Russian press – ever delivered to Iraq during or after the First Persian Gulf war. speed. By August of 1982.64 Squadron. the Iranians soon learned to fight the Mi-25 by all available means. Iraqi helicopters were never armed with the AT-4 Fagot/9K11 ATGMs either. on 22 September. They were not even deployed to Iraq for testing purposes. By the time of Iraqi invasion of Iran. designated the 1st Special Operations Unit No. as in September 1980 the USSR stopped most of its arms deliveries to Iraq). Five such teams were organized. in January 1981. The trust the Iraqi regime felt for this unit was such that two Mi25s were permanently based somewhere in or around Baghdad. and Special Operations Squadron”. Three more Mi-25s were lost in combat against Iranians by the end of the same year. in May 1982 another order for 18 examples followed.” Therefore. the Iraqi Mi-25s were never equipped with AT-6s. Training. by the summer of 1982. As a result. Interestingly. one of which was led by East German Capt. Capt. as one was under repair and another was shot down by Iranian F-14As on 7 September. All were flown by the pilots of the No. as the demands of the war in Afghanistan were considered more urgent. and it seems that some examples from this batch started arriving in Iraq by October of the same year. and preferred to describe them as “combat transport helicopters.” Indeed. while Maj. and would frequently organize proper “hunts” for them. In 1982 the Mi-25 was still a relatively new asset in the Iraqi arsenal. concluded: “I always felt like flying the largest target around. designated the 4th Special Operations Unit. One of the outcomes was the – as previously mentioned – introducing hunter/killer teams. Iraqis ordered their first 12 Mi-25s in 1977. only some 20 Mi-25s were in service with the IrAAC. Aduan Hassan Yassin. and after losing the fifth example. during some of the first serious skirmishes between Iraqi and Iranian forces. and versatility. Iraqi Mi-25 pilots liked the type. weapons load. The first four Mi-25Ds arrived in Iraq in April 1980.

On the other side. in fact.1EQs (No. for the entire war. 1. Dark Gurov .000 of which were delivered together with the first two batches of Hinds to Iraq. Sergey Bezlyudnyy and Maj. Therefore. Iraqi Mi-25s flew combat missions very seldom equipped even with these weapons. and because of the fierce back blast (of between three and five meters) the motor of this missile develops on launch. was also dropped.two former Soviet advisers who spent no less than six years in Iraq during the war with Iran (1980-1983. (US DoD via Authors) Mi-25s of the No. and 19861989) – remarked. the IrAAC started to paint large national flags on several sections of its helicopters (including the bottom). as used during the fighting in autumn 1982. the only ATGM used by the IrAAC Hinds remained the slow and weak AT2B/C.64 Squadron IrAAC. as Col. In an attempt to help improve the identification process. the large back blast was the reason why the idea of mounting the AT4 so it could be fired out of the side doors of the helicopters. (Artwork by Tom Cooper) IrAF in Autumn 1982 Finally. A well-known photograph of an IrAAC Mi-25 thundering low over an Iraqi mechanized formation on the flat plain of Shalamcheh. and two MiG-23BN units to five different bases east of Baghdad and three along the Iranian border (the last . But.79 Squadron). MiG-21MFs.39). and despite their wish to do so. The lack of the stabilized gun system prompted the Soviets to choose the AT-2/Scorpion missile as the main armament for the Mi-25 first of all. the Iraqis could not mount it on their Mi-8 or Mi-25 helicopters for two reasons: because neither type had a stabilized sighting system for the gunner. plus an equivalent of two squadrons of Su-20/-22s deployed with five units. the IrAF could at the time deploy a few depleted squadrons of MiG-23MS‟ (the No. and a single unit of Mirage F.before the war.

as seen at al-Taqaddum. organized and equipped according to the US Army experiences from the Vietnam War. Even the Pasdaran and Basij learned to appreciate the appearance of the IRIAA helicopters overhead. southern and western Iraq. the results were very different for the Iraqis compared to those of the Iranians. Therefore. and on the fire-support from Cobras. the No. fast moving battles heavily depended on supplies flown in by Bell 214s and CH-47Cs. and Sheikh Jassem). For the Iraqi regime. namely. Similar was the situation with the No. (Artwork by Tom Cooper) Weapons of Trade The rough terrain along the central part of the Iraqi-Iranian border forced both sides to make extensive use of their airpower. Iraqi MiG-25PDs were sometimes sent to intercept aircraft – often civilian . For the Iranians. In contrast. Yet.three being Subakhu.inside Iran. In areas where there were no good roads. While both sides came to this conclusion. the Mirage F. The IrAF and the IrAAC were constantly suffering considerable losses. which was already operational with MiG-25PDs deployed in two or three flights (one of which was entirely manned by Soviet and other East European pilots) in northern. depended heavily on helicopters.84 Squadron – with MiG-25RBs – was foremost occupied with operations against Khark Island. but the loss of a single pilot – or a flying crew – had less impact on the morale and the total combat capability of the Iraqi military than a loss of a whole regiment or brigade of ground troops. especially when fighting on such rough terrain on which the operations in late summer and early autumn 1982 were to be undertaken. but they lacked heavy equipment. the use of airpower had its merits even if it was never considered decisive. and was therefore preferred when compared with the completely flat terrain on which most of the fighting on the southern sectors took place. A MiG-23MS in the colors of the No. By 1982. which could replace the losses in aircraft and helicopters more easily than the Iranians. in the early 1980s.39 Sqn Iraqi Air Force. both the Iraqis and the Iranians realized that this war would be won by the side that managed to conserve its forces and resources the longest. and was not especially useful for fighting over the front. and a sight of only one or two Cobras usually helped considerably . At the time. and their flying services had to carefully husband equipment and qualified crews. Such terrain could offer more protection to fliers of both sides. the situation was completely the opposite: their ground forces were numerically superior. Baqubah.1EQs only seldom operated over the front and were rather kept back for the defence of strategically important installations inside Iraq.96 Squadron IrAF. and by the summer of 1982 were hardly in operational condition. they had to make a very careful use of airpower. the regular Iranian Army. and to deploy it only when ultimately necessary.

and a “General Support Group” of medium and heavy transport helicopters. with the fourth largest helicopter fleet in the world. each operating an attack helicopter division (equipped with AH1Js. and the regime in Tehran was glad to use the popularity of IRIAF and IRIAA aces – completely neglecting the fact that almost all of them had actually been trained by the “Great Satan” – for its purposes. mainly because the front was so long.205s and AB. maintenance problems were minimal. It also still lacked enough crews to man all the available helicopters. Bell 214s/AB. CASEVAC etc. Approximately 20 additional AB. while the large fleet of 118 CH-47C Chinooks (64 from the US and 55 from Italian Elicopteri Meridionali) were used for all possible tasks. The Iranians knew how good their pilots were. it purchased a huge number of attack and transport helicopters. and CH-47Cs. and could still boast over 620 helicopters. Contrary to the usually accepted “version. let alone to train new ones. highly experienced in operational use of helicopters. in the 1970s. the IRIAA‟s fleet remained a force to reckon with.206 JetRangers. foremost because in the .bolster the morale of the troops. In 1982. By 1982 quite a few Bell 214As and some Cobras had already been lost during the fighting in Oman. (Authors' Collection) The IRIAA found it difficult to concentrate a large number of helicopters at a particular section of the front. equipped with Bell 214As. in 1979 and 1980.205s were used for SAR and CASEVAC tasks. including normal trooptransport duties. Note the tents in the camp for crews in the rear. including 202 AH-1J Cobras. During the 1970s. But. and then against the Kurdish uprisings in the Iranian Kurdistan. An AH-1J Cobra ("International") as seen in the livery of the "Islamic Republic of Iran Army Aviation" (IRIAA) during a forward deployment near frontlines.206s).” however. These were organized into three so-called Direct Support Combat Groups. 287 Bell 214As. and 214 AB. the Islamic Republic of Iran Army Aviation (IRIAA) was a battle proven force. as well as the subsequent repulsing of the Iraqi invasion.

The Iranian advance was very slow. The IRIAF was generally more successful in air combats at the time. Yahya Shemshadian. Iran also lost a Cobra. Capt. On the ground. there was a lack of co-ordination between the IRIAS and the IRGC units and so the battle soon developed into a bloody struggle for every hill. the maintenance capabilities of the field units were constantly increasing. The Iraqis deployed their special forces brigade of the Republican Guards. hitting the nearby Iraqi logistical centers. but. Some outskirts of Mandali were held only very briefly. In turn. In the autumn of 1980 these two services had stopped the initial Iraqi drive into Khuzestan almost alone and at a time when Iranian ground forces were largely in chaos. supported by artillery and helicopter gunships. Subsequently. on 10 October.342 “hunter/killer” teams. Baqubah. piloted by the senior IRIAA regional commander and tactician. the Iranians had lost their positions overlooking Mandali. But. downing one MiG-23BN.3 flew their first strikes. the F-5Es from Omidiyeh TFB. The IrAF responded by sending more and more fighter-bombers as it deployed additional units at airfields near the front. the flying crews were meanwhile battle-hardened and experienced. this time better combining their infantry and armor. in addition liberating 150km2 of their own soil. and even if there was a steady shortage of trained personnel. and Sheikh Jassem. Only the poor strategy of the Iranian political leadership precluded the IRIAA to be – together with the IRIAF – of decisive importance for the outcome of the war. Approaches to Baghdad The MUSLIM-IBN-AQIL offensive was launched on the evening of 1 October 1982. on that day. with small IRGC units in high spirits attacking Iraqi positions high on the hills. In the middle of persistent quarrels between the IRIA and the IRGC. Shortly after the dawn. and it was becoming increasingly competent and independent from any foreign help. as in the morning the Basij unit was hit by Army artillery‟s friendly fire after it started an attack almost two hours too early. was established by Bell Textron/Bell Corporation at the eastern part of the Mehrabad airport. they were stopped on the hill overlooking Mandali. the Iran Helicopter Support and Renewal Company (IHSRC). Maj. Jalal Zandi shot down two Iraqi MiG-23s while flying an F-14A – a claim again fiercely denied by Iraqis. This was clearly not enough. On the contrary. with the 51st and 53rd TFS‟s following with a similar number of close air support sorties. on the evening of the same day the Iranians started the next phase of their operation. which became operational on the morning of 5 October. This facility was now capable of refurbishing and completely rebuilding all helicopter types in Iranian arsenal. forcing the IrAF to temporarily disperse its fighters concentrated there. but also equipment and firepower of its fighters. followed by mechanized Army units in the morning. By 7 October. trained for combat in urban areas and heavily supported by Mi-25 and SA. some two or three kilometers outside the city. the IRIAF then deployed one MIM-23 HAWK SAM site to cover the battlefield near Mandali. so the IRIAA Cobras did their best by flying numerous daily combat missions per airframe and the crew. the 31st and 33rd TFS‟s were to support the operation by flying nine to 12 strike sorties per day. That was the start of a massive air-land battle. while covering a Boeing 707 tanker which was supporting one of these attacks.5 and F4Es from Hamedan/Nojeh TFB. Besides the . This confirms their capability at the time. mainly owing to the superior training of its pilots. Also. they held off the other Iraqi counterattacks and also claimed seven Iraqi fighter-bombers as shot down. the IRIAF resorted to counter attacks against the local Iraqi airfields at Subakhu. the Iraqis counterattacked towards Sumar. In the event.1970s a large helicopter repair facility. and by 4 October they still had not reached Mandali. According to the original plan for MUSLIM-IBN-AQIL.

and Russian publications. and still wearing the title "IIAF" (instead of "IRIAF") under the cockpit.” and was considered as “confirmed” even by observers with considerable knowledge about helicopters and anti-armor warfare. Ukrainian. Iranian actual losses were one F-4E. But. F-4 Iraq‟s over claims for the numbers of Iranian aircraft shot down in air combats and by air defenses was characteristic for this war.” Significantly. or former dignitaries of the Soviet Air Force and airspace industry. In fact. even Western armored warfare experts who are usually skeptical to accept any . shown here. Note that this F-14 is shown here as it appeared early during the war: without the fin flash. and in which one Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter had shot down an Iranian F-4 Phantom. eight Phantoms. long-range. In response. this claim has widely been accepted as “authentic. near Baghdad. and returned to service in a rush.” a publication controlled by the Iraqi regime and targeting Western reporters. while maintaining that the claim was confirmed by “US intelligence. The F-14A 3-6079. one SA. Zandi. Ever since. In general. The Iranian fleet of F-14A Tomcats remained fully operational and were used to excellent effect during the war. five Tigers and at least 20 IRIAA helicopters. Exact reasons for this remain unknown. the most controversial of all the Iraqi claims ever was published on 27 October by the Iraqi magazine “Baghdad Observer. also one Su-20 (by F-4s). Most Russian and Ukrainian observers use it to “confirm” the capabilities and firepower of the Mi-24 attack helicopter and the AT-6 missile. by the end of the month. (Authors' Collection) Mi-25 vs.” the engagement happened “north of the Eyn-e Khosh area” and the Phantom was destroyed by a “next generation. one F-5E (by SA-3 or SA-6) near another Iraqi air base. Ahmad Salem. the Iraqis claimed to have shot down no less than three Tomcats.two MiG-23s downed by Maj. According to the “Baghdad Observer. or its initial source. and one AH-1J. and two Mi-8s (both by F-5Es) were confirmed shot down over the MUSLIM-IBN-AQIL territory of operations (TO). intercepted and shot down by IrAF Capt. AT-6 Sprial ATGM. two MiG-21s (by a combination of F-4s and MIM-23 Hawk SAMs).342 (by an F-5F). many Iranian reports were not much better. even if very few people know anything about the background of the claim. but it is possible that this Tomcat was put into deep storage upon delivery. while others are obviously ignoring these. this claim has been making rounds in various Western. was the last example delivered to Iran and one of the most distinguished during the whole war. shot down by AAA over the Al-Rashid AB. At least a dozen Iraqi aircraft were shot down by different pilots flying this Tomcat.” fired by a Mi-24 helicopter specially prepared and brought to Iraq by the Soviets in order to test the AT-6 missile in the air-to-air mode. In the report with the title “The Day of the Helicopter Gunship” an air battle was briefly described that supposedly developed several days earlier. who almost crashed his MiG-21 while trying to turn into his slow target at low speed and altitude.

the reality turned out to be completely different and this case illustrates once more how poorly the air war between Iraq and Iran has been researched so far. that this battle “must have happened. the more evidence there appears to be that there was no engagement between Iraqi Mi-25s and Iranian Phantoms – at least with the claimed result – in the time and place stated. As revealed earlier.12. FBIS neither confirms nor denies reports it is forwarding: it simply reports what was reported by somebody else. have captured hundreds of Iraqi ATGMs. while both the Iranians. and later the US forces during the Second Persian Gulf War. Under closer scrutiny. HOT. and press them to service in Afghanistan! When these helicopters were returned to their owners. and under such pressure to field as many Mi-24s as possible with units facing the NATO. nor any traces of them in the Iraqi military. including such Western products as Milan. At one point the Soviets were forced to even take several East German Mi24s. On the contrary – it appears that the actual source for all the publications which so far mentioned this claim – regardless of being Western or East European sources – is the same: the report of the Washington based “Foreign Broadcast Information Service” (FBIS). Particularly as they were already working on using the R-60 (ASCC-Code: AA-8 Aphid) short-range air-to-air missile as the main air-to-air weapon for the Mi-24. which in turn obviously described that the engagement had happened several days earlier! Actually. many of which meanwhile explain that this air battle actually happened on 27 October 1982 . except some rumors from Russia. the Soviet Air Force was so short of Mi-24s due to the war in Afghanistan. it seems therefore not easy to dispute anything in this context. especially by an increasing number of research works published in recent years. and reporting these to different US services. from 28 October 1982. FBIS-MEA-82-209. government agencies. were ever captured or found.kind of “Arab” claims – especially for destroying such an advanced product of Western technology like an F-4 Phantom II fighter-bomber – have shown more than ready to accept that this incident really happened. AS.that means. or Soviet-produced AT2s. and AS. because they . ever since that report was published for the first time in the Baghdad Observer. 885. It should be remembered that in 1982 relations between Moscow and Baghdad were not close enough for the Soviets to consider sending one of their most important weapons to Iraq. Even if originally established by the CIA. no narratives by the (unknown) pilots who supposedly managed that feat (especially surprising. FBIS is no “US intelligence. and AT-4s – no AT-6s. Furthermore. the Iraqis never got any AT-6s. during the early 1980s. not even a closer description of how this engagement developed.11. that deliveries of Mi-25s to Iraq slipped badly behind the schedule. In addition. on the same date which the claim had actually been published for the first time in Baghdad Observer. and branches of military. in 1991. and all Soviet Mi-24s were equipped with gun-cameras).” but rather a service compiling reports from all possible foreign media sources and broadcasts. The more one looks into this case. This is frequently ignored. no new details about this engagement appeared: no gun-camera footage (all Iraqi Mi-25s. Research about theoretical possibility that the Soviets might have deployed some AT-6equipped Mi-25s to Iraq brought no positive results whatsoever. which were in the USSR for refurbishment.” if for no other reason. a number of them had been found having patched-up bullet holes in the fuselage. nothing. AT-3s. then because the Soviets and Iraqis had supposedly organized a party to celebrate this success several days before the report in Baghdad Observer was published. Considering the number of sources and their authoritativeness. which repeated the claim of the Baghdad Observer on the page E 2 of its Communiqué No. given the fact that the crew of the scoring Mi-24 should have been Russian).

In 1994. nor about the Soviets ever deploying any Mi-24s and AT6 missiles to Iraq and achieving anything similar. This fact was confirmed by a series of tests conducted by the US Army on the Aberdeen Proving Grounds during the 1980s and 1990s under the code-name Passive Nova 1. but have also added quite a few other mistakes. They remember also that pictures of the wreckage of Iranian helicopters were shown to them. however. and perpendicular to his flight pt. On the contrary. The gunner in the front cockpit of the Iraqi helicopter took notice of the approaching F-4. there is a credible doubt about the quality of research these sources have completed about the air war between Iraq and Iran at all. and notified the pilot: he then unleashed all of 132 rockets caliber 57mm towards the Iranian fighter that flew at low level. and as the same sources have not offered any additional details about this engagement. As a matter of fact. 2. however. Two former Iraqi helicopter pilots who flew with the 4th Squadron IrAAC in 1982. instead of AT-6s. as only eleven out of 100 AT-6s would hit and destroy the target – and that while being fired from a fixed tower. sighting the smoke from its engines. for reasons mentioned above. not only that these facts completely contradict Russian sources which claim a hit probability of 7080% for the AT-6. Therefore. In another case. respectively. they never heard about any claim that any of their Mi25s had shot down an Iranian F-4.statistically . But. which. these tests showed that only four out of 100 AT-6s fired against targets moving at speeds of up to 15km/h would score a hit and destroy the target. a very intensive research with the help of several former Iraqi and Iranian pilots brought no confirmation that an engagement of this kind happened in the given area at the given time – and especially not with the result as claimed by Baghdad Observer. that the IrAAC had given up all efforts to mount the AT-4 on its Mi-8 or Mi-24 helicopters. and three other former officers of the Iraqi military remember being told about how Iraqi helicopters had shot down Iranian helicopters time and again during the war. The fact is. when a Mi-25 armed with four Scorpion missiles and four UV-32-57 pods by accident confronted an Iranian F-4 Phantom that was attacking Iraqi ground forces. not from a helicopter diving at high speed and flown by a crew under stress and in hurry! US Army personnel concluded from the tests that the most reliable part of the AT-6 was the warhead (despite its small diameter) and that the weapon was highly efficient – if it managed to score a hit. expertly trained in the use of Soviet-produced weapons systems. would did not happen very often.were well aware that the AT-6 could not be used in that role: the version available at the time – the 9M114 (AT-6A) – was so poorly manufactured that it constantly failed even when tested under ideal conditions. and they also remember many of their comrades being killed when Iraqi helicopters were shot down by Iranian helicopters and fast jets. but .there is also no possibility that the AT-6A could hit a target moving at 350-500 knots while fired from a helicopter which is also moving. Conducted by top US Army personnel. during the Battle of Susangerd. The Iraqi pilot . The closest any IrAAC Mi-25 ever came to doing something of this kind was in January 1981. the claimed hit probability of 70-80% for the AT-6 is probably valid only for the AT-6B and AT-6C versions. the same sources stated that this happened on 27 October 1982. and 3. the Russians have completely rebuilt and upgraded their whole remaining stock of AT-6-missiles. In short. they have had good reasons to do so! Some East European sources seem to have known this. a weapon indeed delivered to the Iraqi Army by the Soviets. there is a claim that the kill was actually scored by the AT-4 “Fagot” ATGM. and using a total of 120 AT-6s clandestinely purchased from different East European sources. which is actually the date on which the initial claim was published by the Baghdad Observer. Obviously. Albeit. The testing against stationary targets ended with only slightly better results. and therefore they claimed that the Mi-24 scored this kill using unguided rockets and machine-guns. and only for rounds fired during the trials in the later 1990s.

none of several dozens of other former Iraqi and Iranian pilots and officers interviewed can remember about hearing any similar claim either: several of them actually ridiculed the idea. after severe setbacks from the previous fighting during 1982. . especially not by IrAAC Mi-25s.never claimed he had shot the Iranian fighter. An AT-2/Scorpion missile as seen on an IrAAC Mi-25 that was captured by US Army. was in a dire need of some good news at the time this claim was published. (US DoD via Authors) All of Iraqis interviewed by the authors consider such claim to either have been a propaganda plot by the Iraqi government – which. The AT-2 remained the sole ATGM used by Iraqi Hinds during the whole war: no AT6s were ever delivered to Iraq. there must have been a smart Iraqi journalist who tried to rewrite the same incident in another way. as well as other official documents mention no losses of any F-4s or F-5s over the front near Eyn-e Khosh in October 1982. As a result. so they say. the IRIAF wartime records. and the Soviets never sent any of their AT-6-equipped Mi24s to that country. Consequently are all claims for an Iraqi Mi-24 to have shot down an Iranian F-4 Phantom using AT-6 missiles false. Or. and that the Soviets also never tested that weapon in Iraq. and no losses of any Iranian fighters to Iraqi fighters ever. Finally. over a year later. nor had any other Iraqi sources claimed anything similar – until the report in Baghdad Observer. in 1991. we can only conclude that a Mi-24 never did shoot down an F-4 Phantom in the Eyn-e Khosh area during October 1982. To the best knowledge of the authors. Both of former IrAAC pilots confirmed – just like US documents released to the authors under several FOIA inquiries – that the AT-6 was never accepted to Iraqi Army service.

with quite a long list of successes to their credit. Shahram Rostami and Col. where they could better concentrate on supporting ground troops and worry less about Iraqi interceptors and helicopters. Fatahe. foremost in order to escort at least one Boeing 707-3J9C-tanker (also equipped with “Roving Eye” US-supplied ELINT-equipment) which was to support the Phantoms participating in the operation. and deployed from Esfahan to TFB. the Iranian Gendarmerie and IRIAA were also to use a small number of Cessna O-2A Bird-Dogs as forward air controllers. In this way. code-named MOHARRAM.Phantom REALLY meets Mi-25: as an IRIAF RF-4E thundered low over the Iraqi forward airfield near Suleimaniyah. respectively. it took this photograph which shows two parked Iraqi Mi-25s. A. The IRIAF was also better prepared for this offensive than it had been for MUSLIM-IBNAQIL. the IRIA concentrated three divisions of the III Corps. (By 1982. in autumn 1982. In addition to the helicopters. For this operation. Bassiri and Capt. Warrant Officer Amir Ala‟i – one of the best Cobra crews the IRIAA ever had. the 81st TFS from Esfahan was to fly constant Tomcat CAPs over the front. and supported by 16 to 18 AH-1J Cobras organized in two regiments of the 1st Attack Helicopter Group. Eight of the deployed Cobras were TOW-capable. helicopter. and artillery attacks. these O-2s were also used by the Gendarmerie for anti-drug smuggling operations). K Oweysee. respectively. Ali “Gravedigger” Shafi. (Authors' Collection) Operation “MOHARRAM” Just few days after the Operation MUSLIM-IBN-AQIL was initiated. and his gunner. At TFB.4. the 41st and 43rd TFS‟s prepared a dozen or so F-5Es and F5Fs. In addition. which flew in some 12 F-4Es. the Phantoms and Tigers were to operate more freely over the front. foremost for coordination of their air.4 near Dezful. reinforced by five brigades of Pasdaran. A. commanded by Maj. . and they were reinforced by the 32nd and 34th TFSs. the Iranians already started preparing their next offensive. Among the crews who were to participate in this operation were Capt. commanded by Maj. and with them also 300 TOWs were forward-deployed.

and several captured Iraqi officers even asked if the IRIAA had more Cobras delivered from the USA. and stopped the advance. Using helicopters to rapidly resupply and reinforce their forward units. run directly into an extensive minefield causing many casualties. cutting the most important Iraqi logistical route in the area. Capt. but in event the IRIAF established local air superiority. claiming seven MiGs. Iranian pilots would bring their helicopters back behind the nearest cover. the IrAF. the IRIAF and the IRIAA had thrown everything they had into the battle. by the time the third phase of the Operation MOHARRAM was initiated. The IRIAA also suffered some losses during early November 1982 in the MOHARRAM TO.755 CBUs. before the Iraqis moved in two brigades from the north. Using this tactic. enabling TFB. then enter a hover. which could be used for an advance towards Ammarah. only keeping their nose over the obstacle (so to be able to guide their weapons). Shafi and WO Ala‟i were reportedly alone responsible for the destruction of 26 Iraqi tanks and other vehicles using TOWs and unguided rockets. the bold drive deep into Iraq. was to be cut off.3 Phantoms to bomb Iraqis with BL. making some gains and capturing 50 oil wells. the actual objective of the operation was limited. Sukhois. and one O-2A. The initial attack by Basij. but moving them up and down between the hills under coordination from O-2As. the Iranian Cobra pilots used the “classic” tactics of US Army Aviators. the industrial towns of Tib. The Iraqis had fiercely denied suffering such losses. First. the IRIAA Cobras destroyed at least 106 Iraqi MBTs and 70 APCs. the Iranians were more successful on the Bayat oilfield. and helicopters as shot down. was stopped at its first phase by Iraqi minefields and defensive fire – in addition to heavy rain.755 failed to detonate). which could have posed a threat if they had breached Iraqi lines and neared the approaches to Baghdad. the IRIAA fliers created the feeling of dozens of them attacking almost simultaneously. earthen depressions. the IrAAC. as once the missile would be fired. In fact. the Iranian forces had reached the strategic Sharahani-Zobeidat road. When using 20mm guns or unguided rockets. on 2 November and during the following days. and then move back behind the cover. the deployed forces were to secure several hills still inside Iran. The situation was barely different when TOWs were used. By the dawn of 2 November.Although the Iranians had amassed sizeable forces for MOHARRAM. and the Iranians trying to suppress Iraqi armor. eventually led by Iranian mechanized forces. Zobeidat. and then take the large Bayat oilfield. and Abu-Qarrab and associated oilfields were to be taken. (Until today. Then the IRIAA Cobras and the Gendarmerie O2As appeared over the battlefield and started rolling the Iraqi tanks back. they immediately started the assault on . do a short “pop up” maneuver to acquire the targets and fire. As it transpired. started on the night of 1 November 1982. Due to this success. The IRIAF Tomcats intercepted numerous Iraqi formations. probably shot down by SAMs. on 6 November. most of Iraqi sources deny the Hunting BL. rock outcroppings) at high speed.316C Alouette (used as forward artillery observer) with 20mm cannon fire.” in which they would repeatedly approach the same area from several different directions. the Iraqis stress that up to 80% of the bomblets dropped from BL. called “Dead Ground. which was constantly inflicting losses on their infantry. By constantly holding three to four AH-1Js over the front. as well as two Gazelle and one SA. In the last phase. with the Iraqis trying to block a further Iranian advance towards the west. to say the least. destroying scores of tanks and other vehicles. all the time flying behind the cover (low hills. including one AH-1J to Iraqi anti-aircraft guns. and eventually the Sharahani-Zobeidat road. Meanwhile. they would usually disappear before the Iraqis could detect their presence. and thus exposing only the part of the rotor and a very small part of the fuselage to the enemy.755 cluster-bomb units were as effective as most Iranian sources claim.

the Iranians had no effective weapons against the T-72. as Iranian F-14s were still patrolling the area.Zobeidat. Raje‟ Suleiman. IRIAF F-14As shot down an Su-22 belonging to a formation which was about to attack Iranian positions in the Moharram TO. On the morning of 7 November 1982. This considerably complicated the matters for Iranian fliers and fighters. so they had to search positions which would enable them to engage from the flank. Several other fighter-bomber formations were subsequently forced to abort their missions after Iranian Tomcats were detected in front of them. driving them directly from Baghdad. IrAF Capt.64 Squadron‟s Mi-25s for attacks with chemical weapons: only the high winds and rain stopped them from mounting such mission. This led to continuous activities in the air for the rest of the month. Mohammad Raje' Soleiman ejected safely and was captured by the Pasdarans shortly later. and at one moment the circumstances appeared to the Iraqis so desperate that they started preparing some of the No. Initially. The town was captured. or to improve them through local counterattacks. and were very tired of constant battles. hampered only by the bad weather. flown by Capt. the IrAF returned over the battlefield. so they settled to stabilise their new positions. Both were apparently ineffective against the front armor of the T-72s. The losses of Iranian anti-tank teams of course. By the 7 November. After the initial shock due to the heavy losses on 2 November. but at high altitude. were appropriately higher. (Authors' Collection) . before hastily being taken away. but held only very briefly. recently delivered from the USSR. who was captured. The first IrAF formation which reached the front on the morning of 7 November lost one of its Su-22s. both sides suffered extensive losses. as the Iraqis were swift to react with a major counteroffensive of their elite Republican Guards units. and another IRIAA AH-1J was shot down by Iraqi ZSU-23-4s indeed while operating against Iraqi T-72s. which deployed their brand-new T-72 tanks. which proved to be a wrong tactic. except TOWarmed Cobras and motorcycle-riding RPG-7 teams.

Thanks to the much better equipment of the Iranian aircraft. Also. followed by two IRIAA Cobras downing a helicopter carrying an Iraqi general. the IRIAF managed to deploy one of its HAWK SAM sites near the front. and by mid-November. instantly shooting down one of four MiG-21s that attempted to bomb and strafe Iranian positions near the Bayat oilfield. that even the memories of former Iranian and Iraqi fliers cannot be wholly relied upon. The following account has been compiled during a series of interviews with several participants. and cut the main communication lines into the area.The weather worsened in the following days. Nevertheless. for Iraqi generals the life depended on two factors. Over time the actual story has been altered. both the IrAF and the IRIAF were flying again. however. then Iraqi sources deny the units that flew this type to have either suffered such losses. including 3. This story is still being perpetuated on the internet even now. and the escorting MiG. that these two claims are for the same aircraft. and could therefore be considered as the most complete and accurate version published so far. downing one Mi-8 with guns and one MiG-21 by AIM-9s. It is possible. corrupted and misused so many times by both sides.” rarely less than 30 or more kilometers in the rear. and b) not taking too little action as to appear incompetent as a military leader – and become a target for that reason too. The Iranians had managed to capture several important oilfields. as well as by using reports from both sides. or being hampered in their operations by strong winds and bad weather. on the front between Eyn-e Khosh and Musiyan. the IrAF was prevented from intervening by the IRIAF interceptors and SAMs. aerial operations were hampered by more bad weather. however. but on 20 November. tours on the front had to be done. In general. which helped their more experienced and superior trained pilots keep a good situational awareness in airspace simultaneously used by larger numbers of enemy fighters. By 20 November 1982. the fighting on the ground bogged down in the mud. Iraqi high-ranking officers would seldom appear very close near the front: instead they preferred to control the battle from the safety of “field headquarters. For the next four days. the Iraqi Army suffered heavy casualties. and the intervention efforts of the IrAAC ended with its helicopters either being shot down by Iranian fighters and Cobras. and additional air battles developed as the fighters and helicopters from both sides frequently run into each other while on air-to-ground missions. while F-5Es had a particularly successful day. which went into action on the morning of 16 November. but also within specific circles of the US military – and highly contentious claim from this period of the war: the one about IRIAF interceptors downing five or six Iraqi fighters during a 17-minute engagement. or flown air-to-ground sorties at the time. both of which had to do with their superiors: a) not taking too much action and make themselves too dangerous for the dictator in Baghdad as to become his target. and the whole . Sometimes. Iraqi Generals Meet Iranian Tomcats During the war with Iran. Exactly one such case provided the source of the next well known – at least in Iran and Iraq. or the “situation b” could develop: this was especially important because several cases were known in which Iraqi field commander deliberately distorted intelligence information to their superiors. Another MiG-21 was claimed shot down shortly after by a Sidewinder fired from an F-4E.500 soldiers killed. were in a critical condition. the Iraqi troops in the MOHARRAM TO. the IRIAF remained highly successful: an F-4E shot down an Iraqi MiG-23BN using Sidewinders. and they had to visit the front every time they wanted to see what was happening on the ground.

sector of the front was in danger of collapsing. Iraqi generals could already hear the first allegations from the dictator in Baghdad. Fearing that losses might be approaching those suffered during the spring Iranian offensives of 1982, Maj. Gen. Maher Abdul Rashid of the Iraqi Army General Staff and commander of the III Army Corps, and Lt. Gen. Abdul Jabbar Mohsen, deputy commander of the IV Corps and Army spokesman, decided to tour the front and meet with their local field commanders.

An IrAAC Mi-8 seen wearing the standard camouflage applied to this type in Iraqi service. Note large Iraqi national flags, used for easier identification after several "blue-on-blue" incidents. (Authors' Collection) On the morning of 21 November, both generals boarded an armed Mi-8 helicopter, piloted by Capt. S. Mousa, which was escorted by two other Mi-8s and one Mi-25 acting as a pathfinder. Overhead, flights of four MiG-21s and four MiG-23s were providing top cover, and these were continuously relieved by other flights as they ran out of fuel during the formation‟s slow progress towards Mandali. At around 10:40hrs, at 12.200m (40,000ft) and only eight kilometers from the Iranian border, two IRIAF F-4Es underway to attack targets in Iraq, were approaching a Boeing 707-3J9C-tanker escorted by two F-14As, led by Capt. M. Khosrodad. The Tomcats were flying a race-track pattern around the tanker, with one of them continuously scanning the airspace over the front by its AWG-9 radar. Around 10:45hrs, just as the first Phantom started receiving fuel from the tanker, the radar onboard Capt. Khosrodad‟s F-14A acquired several Iraqi fighters apparently closing from the west and well within the range of the AIM54 missiles of his Tomcat. Despite the standing order not to fly into the Iraqi airspace or leave the tanker unprotected, Capt. Khosrodad decided to attack: he ordered his wingman, whose aircraft was only armed with Sparrows and Sidewinders, to remain with the Boeing and the two Phantoms; then Capt. Khosrodad headed off west.

Working swiftly, he and his RIO fired two AIM-54As and two AIM-7E-4s in rapid succession, and both were most pleased when they noticed that at least two of their radar contacts disappeared within seconds of each other: apparently, so they thought, they had just spoiled „another Iraqi air raid‟….or so they thought. Meanwhile, although their radar net was supposedly able to track aircraft up to 200km deep inside the Iranian airspace, the Iraqis were completely unaware of the two Iranian Tomcats nearby. The first sign of something going wrong for Capt. Mousa was when the pilot of one of the escorting Mi-8s – which was flying a couple of kilometers ahead - shouted out a warning that no less than three of escorting fighters (or what was left of them) were falling out of the skies in flame to their left and right, and that the helicopter carrying generals should make a hard right turn in order to evade the debris. Seconds later, also one of the MiG-pilots started shouting warnings, saying that they had no clue what had attacked them, but “strongly” suggested the Mi-8 with the generals onboard to leave the area and immediately turn west! Seeing the wreckage of the downed MiGs falling towards him, Capt. Mousa was in a complete agreement with his colleagues, so he turned around, and the trip to the front by Maj. Gen. Rashid and Lt. Gen. Mohsen was over before it really started. Meanwhile, after spending all his medium- and long-range missiles to shoot down one MiG21 and two MiG-23s within a couple of seconds, Khosrodad returned to the tanker and advised several other F-4s in the area about the Iraqi fighters: his AWG-9 apparently never detected Iraqi helicopters which flew slow and low between the hills, and several kilometers behind the escorting fighters. The Phantoms indeed tried to intervene, but before finding the helicopters – about which they did not know any way - they ran into a formation of IrAF Su-22s en route for an attack against Iranian ground troops. A wild dogfight developed, and as pilots from both sides tried to jettison their air-to-ground weapons, one of the Sukhois was shot down, while the rest of the Iraqi formation fled to the west. The battle continued without the Iraqi generals, and on the same day, Capt. Ali “Gravedigger” Shafi also got involved in an air combat. While attacking Iraqi armor, he was confronted with one of IrAAC Mi-25 and SA.342L “hunter/killer” teams. Short on fuel, Shafi and his gunner, WO Ala‟i, only managed to fire two long bursts from their 20mm cannon at the Mi-25 before having to disengage and return to their base without observing the results of their attack. Capt. Shafi and WO Ala‟i, however, were killed only five days later, when their AH-1J was shot down by the Iraqi anti-aircraft guns. By this time, the air-to-ground battle between the Iraqis and Iranians in the area between Eyn-e Khosh and Mandali was over for all purposes. Neither side could be completely satisfied: the Iraqis had suffered considerable losses in soldiers and equipment, and were forced to pull back from a number of important spots along the border. But, they successfully defended Mandali. Sacrificing at least two brigades of Basij, the Iranians breached the Iraqi front, but then their attack lost the momentum and no drive closer towards Baghdad was possible any more in the face of the stiff and bitter Iraqi resistance, even if the Iranians were this time particularly close to achieve a serious breakthrough. The Iraqis had managed to bring forward reinforcements from Baghdad and other parts of the front, and build new defence lines, as a result two highly promising Iranian offensives lost any chance of success, as the forces and material involved were simply insufficient and overstretched for prolonged battles of attrition.

Certainly the higher leadership of both sides were unable to recognize the importance and success of the airpower, even if it had proved itself once again beyond any doubt: therefore, all the successes and sacrifices of the Iranian and Iraqi fliers were again in vain. Having had a permission to deploy stronger armored reserves, which could have exploited the gaps in the Iraqi front, the Iranian Army could – despite the very difficult terrain and poor roads – have scored a decisive success even with the little air support the IRIAF/IRIAA could offer. Its soldiers were in good spirits, relatively well trained, and willing to fight deep into Iraq. Of course, with a fully operational IRIAF the Iranian Army could have done much more. Equally, an IrAF deployed to its advantage, instead of being limited to small-scale operations in response to Iranian offensives, could have tackled the enemy infantry more effectively and crush the Iranian operations in a much shorter time. Whatever the strategic outcome of the two Iranian offensives undertaken in autumn 1982 was, the results of the use of airpower against armor were humiliating to say for least. Not only that the armor was deployed mainly for the support of the slow-moving infantry, instead in bold drives through and behind the enemy lines, but the attack helicopters proved exceptionally effective and both the AH-1J and the SA.342L met expectations of many Western observers, confirming the results of different peace-time testing by the NATO. While the US Army expected an exchange ratio of around 16:1 for the battlefield in the Central Europe, the Iranians – who used the same tactics and helicopters as the US Army and the USMC – reached much higher ratios, of between 40 and 50:1. The lightly-armored French-built SA.342L Gazelle helicopters were typical representatives of the contemporary European ideas about the use of helicopters for anti-tank warfare: their obvious vulnerability proved these concepts as partially wrong. It was obvious that Gazelle lacked the armor protection for operations in a high-threat environment. Nevertheless, their HOT ATGMs, just like US-supplied TOWs used by the Iranians, had no particular problems with destroying tanks of any type, regardless if Soviet-built T-55s and T-62s, or US-built M60A-1s, and British Chieftains. The huge and powerful AT-2-armed Mi-25s obviously lacked the precision needed for effective anti-tank operations, but were highly efficient in suppressing enemy artillery and anti-aircraft defenses, and therefore could be used to support the Gazelles: the East German concept of the “hunter/killer” teams was therefore proved and confirmed in action.

Despite endless rumors about AIM-54s being "sabotaged by the CIA" or "Hughes technicians" during the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the stock of 270 AIM-54s delivered previously remained intact. Sabotaged were only 18 "ready to use" rounds, at the Khatami AB (TFB.8). All of these were subsequently repaired with help of spare parts purchased clandestinely from the USA. The IRIAF's F-14 Tomcat fleet was therefore well suited to continue using the weapon during the whole war against Iraq. This still from a video shows an AIM-54A being loaded under the left shoulder station of an Iranian F-14. (Authors' Collection)

IrAAC Capt.I air-to-air missiles. Geschke‟s Hind by a Sidewinder shot. for example. S. to claim a total of nine confirmed (through examination with US intelligence documents released according to FOIA inquiry) and two or three probable kills.1EQ fighters. In late March 1987. Zandi survived all his differences with Baba‟ie. but also outright refuse to even mention his name. thus becoming the most successful F-14-Tomcat pilot ever. while on a training mission near Taji Army Air Base. when his helicopter was shot down over Iranian positions and he taken prisoner of war. It is possible that he scored between eleven and 12 air-to-air victories. most likely because of his close cooperation with the clerical regime in Tehran. in 2001. in Iraq.1EQ-5s in a total of 15 anti-shipping strikes against the Iranian tankers around the Khark Island. during which he hit the USN frigate USS Stark (FFG-31) with two Exocets. His career as fighter pilot came to an abrupt end after his last anti-shipping strike. as well as eyewitnesses and participants who helped in research that resulted in this feature. Later during the war. his Mi-25 was damaged no less than nine times by Iranian fire. however. Mousa continued to fly Mi-8s until March of 1983. Aduan Hassan Yassin went on to fight the Iranians until 1984. . scoring only two kills – an Iranian M-113 APC and a M-60A-1 MBT. he was grounded and put under observation by the Iraqi secret services. During his numerous combat missions with the Mi-25 in 1983. and damaging another M-60A-1 – foremost due to the weaknesses of the weapon. Siavash Bayani. killing both of its crewmembers. Ahmad Salem was decorated for his success against the Iranian Cobra helicopter and subsequently sent to France where he was trained on the Mirage F.IrAF Capt. causing death of 37 US sailors. Col.IRIAF Maj. he also flew AM. . when he run out of luck. or simply a “war hero”. On 14 September 1983 he also claimed one IRIAA AH-1J as destroyed by a salvo of 57mm unguided rockets.East German Capt. During this time. he fired a total of 22 AT-2 ATGMs.Post Scriptum The following is known or can be said about some of the officers and pilots involved in the fighting between Iraq and Iran in the autumn of 1982. in spite of frequent – and fierce – disagreements with Col. . but often described as “brazen”. Finally. There are. together with another pilot of his unit he defected to Syria in two Mi-25s (both of which were taken over by the Syrians and included in the SyAAF).342L “hunter/killer” teams of the No. He was released from captivity a couple of years after the war was over. continued his career with IRIAF. the warhead of which was not powerful enough to penetrate the armor of heavier Iranian tanks. He retired only a couple of years ago with the rank of Lieutenant General. and subsequently emigrated from Iraq. Jalal Zandi known as an excellent pilot. and certainly the leading IRIAF ace. and his Hind was intercepted by the F-4E flown by IRIAF Lt. who had already shot down one Iraqi Mi-25 in 1980. while escorting a Su-22 strike against the oil installations on Khark. Abbas Baba‟ie. but died in a car accident. destroyed Capt.64 Sqn IrAAC until 16 June 1983.550 Magic Mk. LieutenantColonel Bayani. and numerous air battles with Iraqi Air Force. flown on 15 May 1987. numerous former IRIAF pilots who not only deny that Baba‟ie ever even qualified on F-14s. an officer differently described as the “mastermind of IRIAF‟s capability to keep its F-14-fleet intact”. .IrAAC Capt. . he claimed one IRIAF F-4E as shot down using two R. Ralf Geschke continued to advise Iraqi Mi-25 pilots and led one of the Mi-25 and SA. and felt his life threatened enough by the Iraqi regime to escape the country in 1989.39 Exocet-equipped Mirage F. on 17 July 1984. Despite his and his superiors‟ protests. .

but also .000ft and Mach 2. He later became the deputy commander of the IRIAF. he shot down an Iraqi MiG-25RB that operated at more than 60. especially “The Last of the First” – granted on the strict understanding that. (IIAF-Association via Authors) Sources and Bibliography Although repeatedly asked to this topic we are not ready to reveal any names of (or directly point at) eyewitnesses and participants involved in research related to this article. We are aware that this enables a number of persons to criticize our work (often fiercely). even to offend us personally. All of them agree with this account. should also be showing the then 1st Lt. Abbas Baba'ie (rear row. but we consider the privacy and personal safety of our sources as untouchable. first from the left).F-14A Tomcats. while most of the survivors were meanwhile forced to leave their countries. Shahram Rostami also continued a successful career. never really reached the highest brass in the IRIAF. The lessons they learned in these bloody battles were largely ignored by the public for different reasons. except certain cases.1 over the Persian Gulf. the individuals would not be named. If this is truth. Many other Iranian and Iraqi pilots and officers which participated in these battles would not survive the war. Of written documents released through FOIA inquiry.and a historical document? This photograph taken in July 1977. A photo from luckier days .. . In the hope that these highly valuable memories will be saved this way. and eventually emigrated from Iran. Despite many merits and virtues. the most useful was SPEARTIP 01490. claiming several more air-toair kills as well.IRIAF Maj.mostly . Already in December 1982. the authors of this article would like to thank and express gratitude to all those who provided help and advice. during which he flew not only F-4 Phantom IIs. then Abbas Baba'ie was obviously one of early Iranian pilots qualified on Tomcats. for example. using a single AIM-54A missile fired from a range of more than 70km. This is a measure necessary for several reasons. even if few dispute specific details as given here.

we have reconstructed the approximate flow of spread of the story about an Iraqi Mi-24 using an AT6 to shot down an IRIAF F-4 Phantom in different publications: . Evolving Roles”.68-69 .1988: ”Soviet Helicopters”.252 . Marat Nikolaevich Tishenko. Defense Helicopter World Vol. by Yefim Gordon. in Miami.10 . p. Zaloga & George Balin. retired US Army AH-1-pilot.1986: ”Anti-Tank Helicopters”. confirmed this claim at the 1989 Paris Air Show. p. and in a personal interview to Mr. p. Jane‟s.Without intention to offend anybody. 9/No.1988: “Weapons and Tactics of the Soviet Army”. . Airlife Publishing. publishes (on p.September 1989: ”Russian Round-Up”. specifically: . Air International. Taylor & Kenneth Munson. by John Fricker.1988: ”Advanced Combat Helicopters. Scott “Buddha” Barnes.4) report “Day of the Helicopter Gunship”. by Scott Reynolds. Air International.111 Appendix I History of IRGC Armored Formations The first armored units of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) were equipped almost exclusively with MBTs and APCs captured from Iraq. Helicopter Air Combat”. Barnes.24 .May 1984: the same claim is cited in ”Hind. p. p. FBIS-MEA-82-209.19 . Part 1. 2nd Edition. in February 1992.131 . p. Air International. Jane‟s. p. Overpowering or Overrated”. p. p. p. The report further stated that the Soviets brought a specially prepared Mi-24 Hind with a next generation longer range AT-6 Spiral ATGM. by David C. Isby.442 . but considering the obvious need to inform. stating that an Iraqi Mi-25 Hind shot down an Iranian F-4 Phantom. R.160 vehicles captured during the Operation "Samene-al-Aeme" (breaking siege of .January 1990: ”Recent Soviet Rotary-wing Revelations”.2001: "Mil Mi-24 Hind. by John Everett-Heath. by Yossef Bodansky.October/November 1990: ”Iraq‟s Rotary Assets”.28 October 1982: FBIS cites report from Baghdad Observer in “Communiqué” No. p. by Steven J.36 .131 .February 2001: ”Fighter vs. and with greatly appreciated help of Mr. . by John Fricker. 2nd Edition.June 1989: Mr.885.27 October 1982: “Baghdad Observer” magazine. then chief designer for the Mil Design Bureau.70 . north of the “Eyn Khosh” area. by John W.E2 . Attack Helicopter".October 1992: ”Gallery of Middle East Airpower”. p. Motorbooks International. that was tested in the air-to-air mode.5. Air Force Magazine.

when this was shattered on the eastern bank of Karoun River. enabled the IRGC to establish one mechanized battalion. resulting in the liberation of Bostan and capture of even more Iraqi equipment. including 170 MBTs and APCs.320 vehicles (including 150 MBTs and 170 APCs) captured during the Operation Fath-ulMobin (on the front west of Dezful and near Shush). Most of these vehicles were concentrated into the newlyestablished 30 Armored Division IRGC. the IRGC operated a total of some 500 T-54/55s and various APCs captured from the Iraqi Army. and first had to develop an infrastructure to maintain and develop the bulk of captured MBTs and APCs. BTR-50s and BTR-60s. in March 1982. only the BTR-60s were really operational with the Iranian Army. with some 200 personnel.170 vehicles (including 100 MBTs and 70 APCs) captured during the Operation "Tarigh alQods" (liberation of Bostan). This unit is known to have suffered some 300 KIA during liberation of Khorramshahr. In the event. The situation began changing in September 1981. To facilitate training and operations of the new division. This formation was swiftly trained and ready to participate in the next large-scale operation. when Iranians captured some 160 intact vehicles of the 3rd Iraqi armored Division (including 6AB and 8MB). in November 1981 . training and maintenance facilities were set up in Khuzestan. by April 1982. The IRIA was mainly using Western equipment. Sometimes the local IRIA troops would also try to use captured tanks as static artillery. These were further reinforced by addition of 100 BMP-1 IFVs. Fath ul-Mobin. These vehicles. and extensive support from IRIA's technical services. During the early stages of the war the IrA and the IRIA were actually using similar equipment.105 vehicles captured during the Operation Bait al-Mugaddas (liberation of Khorramshahr). and even more extensive casualties during the first Iranian offensive on Basrah. to later be picked up by salvage companies. taken from IRIA storage. This unit consisted of four battle groups and a single support group. including BMP-1s. The IRGC armored battalion was therefore expanded into the 30 Armored Brigade IRGC. in September 1981 . when some 330 Iraqi armored vehicles were captured. This unit successfully participated in the Offensive Tarigh al-Qods. while other vehicles were in storage. in April 1982. enabling it to become operational within barely a month and start the Operation Beith al-Mugaddas with a total of some 400 MBTs and APCs in service. the Operation Ramadhan.Abadan). in November 1981. operating a total of ten MBTs and 35 APCs. It was mainly for such reasons that the Iraqi MBTs captured during the first year of the war were usually stripped of their heavy machine guns but otherwise left where found. in March 1982 . however. .

the Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF) was developed along the USAF lines. and then continued with purchases of 32 McDonnell Douglas F-4Ds. just like the details about the deployment and operations of both air forces in the long and bloody war of attrition between the two countries. the self-sufficient structure of the IIAF was weak during the 1970s. 165 F-5E/Fs. where huge stocks of spare parts and weapons were piled. In 1960s and 1970s. By 1979. Iran was turned into a huge forward base for local as well as the US forces. seven Boeing E-3A AWACS aircraft and other assets were on order.400 aircraft on various air bases – spread in five countries in the region – as well as on aircraft carriers. within six months. became so huge that even in 1986 the emerging Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) was still using bombs and missiles purchased during the 1970s – even if expired shelf-lives of most items caused operating difficulties. the IIAF honed the skills of its chain of command. Interestingly this number peaked at 2. up to 300 F-16A/Bs. USN.000 fighter and support aircraft. and a number of Boeing 747-2J9C strategic transports.000 . it stationed around 2. and the IIAF was also to build the most comprehensive training installations outside the USA. Iranian reconnaissance assets were also involved in constant monitoring operations along the Soviet borders. and technical personnel to highest possible degrees. its air power doctrine and capabilities. but also worldwide. Consequently. For comparison. such a policy was also influenced by the fact that after learning about Israeli problems in 1973. during the 1970s. as well as a lack of effective anti-shipping systems. but they were recognized and measures were taken to rectify them. and planning to get around 400 more by 1982. There were some problems. 177 F-4Es. and relied on US threat perceptions. purchasing. managed by the costly Peacelog automated inventory system. 1980-1988 The Mother of all Build-Ups During the 1970s. and young Iranian officers started undergoing F-16 flying and AWACS control courses. was tailored for supporting a joint US-Iranian operation against a possible Soviet invasion of Iran from the north. Iran was a firm US ally. and so had to keep the pace. Despite having only 450 combat aircraft. pilots. Even the traditions and markings of the IIAF strongly resembled those of the US Air Force (USAF). Lockheed C-130E/H Hercules transports. creating not only two of the largest and most powerful air arms in the Middle East. negotiations for 75 more F-14As were due to start. the Iranians began to order additional amounts of equipment. During the late 1960s and through 1970s. By constantly taking part in joint exercises with the USAF. The IIAF was trained to function as a member of a team with large and farreaching objectives. A chain of huge air bases and a widespread early warning system were erected against the USSR. tactics. together with USAF/CIA personnel and equipment. in addition to sending its best crews and pilots for training courses to the US and Israel.I Persian Gulf War. when the US deployed its forces to the region after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.790 aircraft (very close to the 3. at least 20 RF-4Es (only 16 of which were delivered “officially”). bases and facilities built in Iran could easily accommodate and support as many as 3. which could enable them to fight an intensive war for many months without any external help. very similar to those used for the Red Flag exercises. and was planned to be developed during the 1980s. Partially. the IIAF took delivery from the USA up to 104 Northrop F-5A/Bs Freedom Fighters. production. both Iran and Iraq invested heavily on their air forces. doctrine. spare parts and weapons. in the US. Everything in the IIAF. RAF and the Turkish and Pakistani air forces. Training began with a fast pace. The IIAF‟s strategic stocks. as well as training policies. and 80 Grumman F-14As. as well as a large fleet of Boeing 7073J9C tankers. Instead. like lack of proper EW systems and gaps in radar coverage of the Iranian airspace. strategies. The circumstances and the results of these investments remain largely unnoticed. in late 1990. fought between 1980 and 1988. consequently.

to the contrary. and even if after several months a large number of makeshift shelters were built. in 1980. when a massive contract was signed with Moscow. manuals and French instructors – brought the IrAF pilots into the world of modern air warfare. operations. Mirages saw extensive use. This was one of the reasons why the IrAF leaned heavily on Indian Air Force (IAF) – instead on the Soviets – for training during the 1970s and a better part of 1980s. including the “air policing” of Kurdish areas in northern Iraq. the IrAF began to increasingly equip itself with Soviet-built aircraft. The infrastructure for such an operation was not available. British. however.1EQ built for the IrAF. and equipped by the British. Although the Iraqi Air Force (IrAF) is the oldest Arab air force (established already in 1924). and Dassault Mirage 5s were all spoiled. For different reasons. however. the IrAF was organized. and French aircraft initially stood exposed to a harsh climate. BAe Hawks. while most airfields were simply overtaxed. if bases in Iran were available to the Gulf alliance. the policies of the country‟s leadership increasingly isolated it from the outside world. the Iraqis were never satisfied with what they had got from the Soviets. 1991.and even more so its weapons. which simply would not make it more capable of defending the huge Iraqi airspace. and it was not before 1977 that Iraq finally ordered its first large numbers of Western combat aircraft and helicopters . as it suffered from being equipped with second-class hardware supplied by the USSR.number) on February 24. Mirage F. the US. and had to be hastily improvised: on most air bases. No such problems would be encountered.” while the fact was that after purchasing over 60 Hawker Hunters during the early 1960s. via Authors) The isolation from the outside was felt also in training. and the British influenced every aspect of the Iraqi air force structure and operations. The type . Under constant observation and heavy pressure by the ruling regimes. To many observers. and tried hard to get more hardware from the West. deals for SEPECAT Jaguars.from France. and capabilities of the IrAF. covering . equipping them with a potent and far reaching attack platform. the IrAF became at least as much a victim of the usual tendency of its officers to mix into the politics. but losses were heavy. during testing in France. Iraq. but also a reasonable high-level interceptor. as seen before delivery. For more than 30 years. could not count on any such support. in 1958. and by the end of the war none of a total of six units equipped with them was left with more than eight airframes. it was “logical” therefore to describe the IrAF as an entity “operating according to the Soviet doctrine. most of the aircraft were not properly protected for the duration of their deployment in the area. After the fall of the monarchy. This changed only to a slight degree in 1979. trained. (Dassault.

(via Tom Cooper) . on March 18. over 90% of the Iraqi airspace was not permanently defended. was conditioned by the Soviets on the presence of a large number of their advisors. delivered in mid1970s. Iraqi Tu-22s flew as part of a huge strike package which hit Iranian tankers at Khark very hard. the most modern combat aircraft of which was MiG-23. they did not have any choice but to form an air defense command along the Soviet lines. The purchase of the latter. but very closely observed the October War of 1973. was equipped with MiG-23s – which were a huge disappointment for the Iraqis – limited-capability Sukhoi Su-7s (mainly used for training) and Su-20/-22 attack planes. Thus. they proved very precise in bombing and were used time and again: in their last combat sortie. in which several IrAF squadrons took part as well. but one was shot down by Iranian interceptors during that operation. Despite the size of their country. Nevertheless. and Tupolev Tu-16s and Tu-22s. namely. The IrAF had also some limited combat experiences from a few wars against Israel. and the units equipped with it had to cease operations several times during the war. The rest of the air force. and a large number of anti-aircraft guns. Tu-22Bs. SA-3 and SA-6 SAM sites. and the long borders with their neighbors. equipped with almost 100 Mikoyan MiG-21s. however. and operated by two squadrons of the IrAF were the most potent bombers in the Iraqi arsenal early during the war. 1988. including the first Mi-25 Hinds and MiG-25 Foxbats. the Iraqis could merely concentrate their SAM sites and point defense interceptors around the vital installations: between such areas. while by 1979 the IIAF was an excellent force on the verge of becoming a power of strategic proportions equipped with first-class weapons and systems. near Basrah – under control for a number of years to come. and were used intensively for striking targets deep inside Iran. while a single bomber wing flew Ilyushin Il-28s. The Iraqis barely learned any important lessons from the war in 1967. the IrAF was still a small tactical asset. which were to keep the Foxbats – stationed at the Shoaibah AB. over two hundred SA-2. The type proved exceptionally complex to maintain and operate. and the continuous low intensity fighting against the Kurdish insurgency.delivery of over 200 combat aircraft and helicopters. The Iraqis understood very well that under given circumstances.

which followed a series of unrests throughout the country. and several times shot down to the last plane.80 series of bombs. and shot down in large numbers. imprisoned or executed. This was certainly one of the most influential reasons for the Iraqis to attack Iran. in southern Baghdad. and plans by the new regime to “cleanse” the air force – suspected of being “royalist” and “disloyal to Islam” – not only caused hundreds of the air force officers to be purged. its fighters were usually detected in time. but also its whole command staff. When the IrAF tried to attack deep into Iran. could preclude the IRIAF to respond in full power. and pilots who lacked proper training – turned into a complete failure.the Iraqi formations were frequently intercepted. namely. . in exchange for two damaged Phantoms. and also forcing most of the IrAF into exile. Iraqis consider this date as the starting point of the war. on the following morning. and during which the IRIAF continued to put large formations of fighter-bombers over Iraq each morning. and crews lost. Constant purges through 1979 and 1980. and also by the need to simultaneously fight an Iraqi-supported Kurdish revolt in the northwest Iran – which was costly in terms of helicopters. F-5E/Fs and F-14s – responded by an aerial onslaught against Iraq. no less than five MiG-21s and MiG-23s were shot down in a single air combat near Baghdad. and using specially reconnoitered ingress corridors. systematically destroying Iraqi oil-production and war-fighting capabilities. the Iraqis initiated a war against Iran with a massive armored onslaught into the southwestern province of Khuzestan. it was clear. Equipped with ECM pods. namely. Only four hours after the first Iraqi attack. even if their operations were hampered by technical problems. no less than 140 Iranian F-4D/E Phantoms. and the clandestine support from the US (which delivered blueprints of the Iranian air defense system to Baghdad). both the IrAF and the IRIAF supported ground forces with a large number of reconnaissance and combat sorties. which not only lost its name. in February 1979. that the IrAF had no chances against an intact and fully operational Iranian air force. in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. and the Mk. The demise of the Shah‟s regime had tremendous consequences for the IIAF. on the afternoon of September 22. Thus a relative “aerial siege” of Iraq was initiated. Although the combat operations during the First Persian Gulf War were “officially” started on the afternoon of September 22. Saudi Arabia. The air offensive – flown by heavily armed aircraft but lacking the needed capabilities. and not even another try. which was to last for almost a week. and a simultaneous two-wave attack by the IrAF against most important IRIAF air bases in western and central Iran. If the IrAF managed to intercept any formation. the reports on the dreadful condition of the Iranian armed forces. aircraft.The Iraqi Invasion The chain of events. was directly initiated by the Islamic revolution in Iran. During most of September. Therefore. Far better equipped and trained Iranians caused extensive losses to the Iraqis. ensured Iraqis that a war against Iran could be successfully initiated and quickly concluded probably with the crushing of the new regime in Tehran itself. the lack of any powerful Iranian response during early skirmishes. 1980. 1980. Especially units equipped with the MiG-23s suffered severely. On September 25. and Kuwait. the Iranians had not much problems in flying almost completely undisturbed deep into Iraq. BL. but finally threatened even the bare existence of the whole service. intensive fighting along the central sector of the Iraqi-Iranian border erupted already on September 4. even if flying along „blind spots“ of the Iranian early warning radar system . and – utilizing IIAF-era contingency plans – on the morning of September 23.755 CBUs. starting in 1978. Despite losses. which finally led to the Iraqi invasion of its eastern neighbor. and until today. for example. four Iranian F-4 Phantoms bombed the Rashid AB.

. The Iraqi invasion. Iranian RF-4Es and RF5Es. (Authors’ collection) After almost a week of intensive attacks against Iraqi targets. Consequently. but the two Iraqi MiG-21s seem to have escaped any serious damage. the Iranians threw the whole power of their air force to stop the Iraqis. flew hundreds of extremely dangerous reconnaissance missions deep into Iraq. who were released from Islamic regime‟s prisons. saved the lives of numerous Iranian unattached officers. as a lack of proper EW systems. the IRIAF had to change its strategy. 1980. as the Iraqi Army was now driving almost 60km deep into southern Iran putting several Iranian cities and important air bases under threat. Together with other skilled personnel. Note the bomb crater on the top of the HAS: the hit cracked the concrete. flown by some of the best Iranian pilots. albeit at a very heavy price. these pilots were to become the most important asset at the hands of the IRIAF for the rest of the war. and bad weather hampered many of the operations.A reconnaissance photograph of the Iraqi al-Hurriyah AB. This task was completed by late October 1980. minutes after the airfield was attacked by Iranian Phantoms. however. and even chaff and flare dispensers. taken on September 25. near Kirkuk. by an IRIAF recon jet. in order to help in the fighting. while the list of the targets in Iraq was almost exhausted. became evident.

and the final expulsion of the Iraqis from Iran.755 CBUs. scoring victories against much more modern types as late as May 1988. as the Iranian battlefield air defenses were not effectively developed and repaired. the Iranian ground forces were reorganized well enough for the IRGC to start its first strategic offensive – the Operation Kheibar – which included a swift crossing of the Howeizeh marshes with the large-scale help of IRIAA helicopters. Nevertheless. By 1984. the Iranians already felt capable of starting a counteroffensive. after a short recovery in spring and summer of 1981. to the contrary. as it was clear now that the war was to last for a conceivable future. Despite increasing problems with the maintenance of its aircraft – foremost caused not by the lack of spare parts. which re-started delivery of the replacement equipment (stopped earlier in protest to the Iraqi invasion of Iran). in September 1982. and was frequently flown far beyond deeming possible. but their first large offensive. On the other side. in the Spring of 1982. and the capture of the Majnoon Islets. with the eventual target of severing the communication lines between Baghdad and the second largest Iraqi city. photographed from a Boeing 707-3J9C tanker. initiated on January 5. through 1983. Therefore. the IRIAF – but also the Iranian Army Aviation (IRIAA) – destroyed huge amounts of Iraqi equipment. Surprisingly vital. ended in failure and caused considerable losses in equipment of the regular forces. . Fast and powerful. and only huge urgent deals with China – with Egyptian and Saudi help – and the USSR. for the next few years the IRIAF and the Army were not to participate intensively in any other offensive operations. which was simply not enough. saved it from annihilation. (Authors’ collection) Iran Strikes Back By January 1981. so during the retaking of Khoramshahr. and also successful in air-to-air combat. the IrAF and the IrAAC had their field days hunting Iranian troop concentrations in the barren terrain of the southern front. this support often proved indispensable. seconds after ending an in-flight refueling operation on the start of another frantic mission into Iraq. the Phantom II was used by Iranians for every possible task. while the IRIAF tried to conserve its remaining strength – by limiting crossborder sorties – and organize first large clandestine shipments of spare parts from the US. As a result. The IrAF. Basrah. the type remained effective throughout the war. but by intensive operations which precluded usual maintenance schedules – the IRIAF supported these operations by at least 100 combat sorties per day on average. except in support of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). was at the end of its strength by late 1982.F-4E Phantom II in colors of the Iranian Air Force and armed with four Hunting BL. the IrAF was foremost preoccupied with reorganizing. the operation Howeizeh.

Most of them.A stunningly close shot of the Iraqi National Assembly (Majless ol-Vattani) in Baghdad. frequently raiding airfields and helicopter bases in western and southern Iran. including few F-4s and F-5s. were destroyed. taken by an IRIAF RF-4E early in the war. but time and again some Iranian aircraft. as Iranian air bases were huge and excellently hardened. (via Authors) . (Authors’ collection) The Iraqi Air Force kept the IRIAF and IRIAA under constant pressure during the whole war. however. were not especially effective.

it internationalized the conflict which could only be to Iraqi advantage. The Tiger IIs flew the highest number of sorties of all IRIAF aircraft during the war. and even CAP. interdiction strike deep into Iraq. in Khuzestan Province.An F-5E from the TFB. which caused suffering losses for hardly any results – and never totally successful. and later by gaining support for such operations from the United States. Even if the Iraqi attacks against the Iranian shipping were very costly – both in terms of expensive equipment required. battlefield interdiction. even against much more modern and powerful aircraft. including close air support. In addition. the Iraqis were to assure not only more help and support for them. Both the F-5E and the F-5Fs were used intensively for all kinds of tasks. (Authors’ collection) The same year saw also an intensification and internationalization of the so-called Tanker War. Namely. Kuwait.4 (Vahdati AB. reconnaissance. it forced Iranians to concentrate a considerable amount of their high value assets – much-needed to support the land offensives – on defending shipping and offshore oil facilities. and Saudi Arabia (as well as Bahrain and Qatar. and immense technical and tactical problems. It now saw both sides attacking Persian Gulf shipping. which permitted Iraqis to use their airspace). Despite some weaknesses. This development was one of the most brilliant Iraqi strategic moves during the war. which was going on at a slow pace already since autumn 1981. but also to cause direct confrontation between Iran and the US – which was one that Iran had no winning chance. they also scored a number of aerial victories. . by ordering their anti-shipping weapons from France. near Dezful) seen in flight at low level over the Karkheh River. Iran.

some 250 hits were scored. Reinforced. in southern Iraq. introduction of improved countermeasures by Iranians. and poor Iraqi targeting procedures – this expensive weapon remained relatively ineffective. Downing of around 45 Iraqi aircraft foremost by HAWK SAMs and Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns . six months before the Falklands War – and with slightly more success than the Argentineans. the Iranians then prepared their most successful offensive of the war. Out of over 400 strikes in which some 600 Exocets were expended. but also flying again deep into Iraq. with the time and for a number of reasons – including the improved construction of modern merchant ships. combat experienced. and better trained than before.The weapon of choice in the Tanker War: Mirage F. The offensive was initiated on the evening of February 9. a year in which the IRIAF was again reinforced by more clandestine deliveries of spare parts and weapons from the US and Israel – a tendency which was to increase in 1986 and 1987. which was hit on February 15. causing a loss of 115 ships (less than 1% of all the ships which were underway through the Iranian side of the northern Persian Gulf between October 1981 and June 1988). including a raid against the H-2 pumping station – over 600km deep inside Iraq. designed and built specially for the IrAF. (Dassault.39 Exocet during the trials in the Gulf of Biscay. and was instantly a huge success. the target of which was the Faw Peninsula. with Iranians not only capturing the whole peninsula and the port of Faw. a highly effective convoy system. by four Phantoms that flew the operation without the help of in-flight refueling. and could never seriously threat the flow of Iranian oil exports.1EQ-5. The IrAF started using the Exocet already in October 1981.was another turning point in the . adding to the carnage on the battlefield. but also badly mauling the Iraqi Army and air force. 1986. the Valfajr-8. in 1982. The IRIAF and the IRIAA conducted intensive operations as well. launching an AM. But. via Authors) The War of Many Wars The Tanker War was also the dominant feature in the air war during 1985.

. The pilot did not manage to eject. ARMs – and chemical weapons. and with the time it developed into the most important Iraqi strike asset. Iranian authorities documented wreckages of several hundreds of Iraqi fighters and helicopters found behind Iranian lines. After the great disappointment with MiG-23BN. the Iranians would integrate – loosely – their SAM sites and interceptors to create true “killing fields. 1986. as the war could at best be described as a catalog of many major campaigns.Iranian air defense strategy. each similar in intensity and size to the 1973 war between Israel and the Arabs. shot down by an Iranian MIM-23 HAWK SAM near the city of Faw. chaff.” to which dozens of Iraqi planes would be lost (which in turn caused reports in the West. a strategy that had begun to transform into an effective counter to the increasing Iraqi air activity towards the end of the war. incorporating a massive use of modern ECM pods. as not only new or repaired weapons. about the IRIAF using F-14s as “mini-AWACS”). on February 16. For the rest of 1986. and until the Spring of 1988. but also new and more innovative tactical methods were brought to bear. The carnage on IraqiIranian battlefields was massive. the Su-20/-22 became the next Iraqi hope. the IRIAF‟s efficiency in air defense constantly increased. For example. The losses were heavy and less than 50% of all the 160 examples delivered between 1974 and 1986 survived the war. This is a Su-22M. The IrAF reacted by increasing the sophistication of its equipment. (Authors’ collection).

Iraqi dictator finally decreased the political influence on every-day operations. Their activities were instrumental for Iranian capability to track the international shipping but also avoid confrontations with the USN. This tendency went so far that in February and March 1988.Iranian P-3Fs. also remained operational. and oil installations deep into the Persian Gulf. in several occasions when the USN did supply targeting information to the Iraqi air force. and reported them to Iraqis. USN ships actively tracked any movements of Iranian shipping and defenses. and would not be permitted to lead an outright onslaught against Iraq. to the contrary. By late 1987. The main Iraqi target now was the destruction of Iranian war fighting capability. through the whole 1987. and even the US – was to succeed in this task. This was now to change. regardless of immense losses it suffered in exchange. (via Authors) By that time. the IrAF could count on direct US support for the conduct of its long-range operations against Iranian infrastructural targets. and continuously introduced new methods for countering Iranian weapons and tactics. as the IrAF moved on a comprehensive campaign against the Iranian economic infrastructure. as after pleads from the Iraqi military structure. and the IrAF – much reinforced by more modern weapons and equipment delivered from France. while the French considerably improved the training of the flying crews and technical personnel. USSR. They were usually stationed at Bandar Abbas – with their main maintenance base at Shiraz – and were used extensively for patrolling the Persian Gulf. and until the end of the war. but did not warn their aircraft of Iranian . operated by the IRIAF but in very close coordination with the Iranian Navy (IRIN). The results of such change were increasingly felt by the Iranians from late 1986. In addition. it became clear to the IRIAF that it could not win the war. the Soviets – due to their own financial problems – started delivering more advanced aircraft and weapons to Iraq. The IrAF. as it lacked enough equipment and personnel to sustain a war of attrition that developed. despite its sophisticated equipment. lacked truly modern equipment and experienced pilots. and left the fighting of the war to his combatants.

was now rapidly running out of economic strength and will to fight. such tactics were no more necessary. The type not only scored dozens of kills. as well as from defending important economic assets. the Iraqis would each time suffer considerable losses. causing immense loss of lives. resulting in immense losses. in which the Iraqis destroyed two supertankers. including two Tupolev Tu22Bs. Never before in the history of modern air warfare could any interceptor claim such effectiveness. which liberated the Faw Peninsula from Iranian occupation. Therefore. Those which failed to recognize the threat. but also . Iran. as now the USN was to directly confront the Iranians – a move important also because it forced the IRIAF to re-deploy considerable assets from fighting Iraq. the American Operation Praying Mantis. flown on March 18. almost 60% of engagements between Iranian F-14s and Iraqi aircraft ended without even a bullet being fired – but with Iraqis retreating at high speed. and one Mikoyan MiG-25RB. Iranian fleet of F-14As remained fully operational and played the most prominent role in the air defense of strategically important installations during all eight years of the air war between Iraq and Iran. not only badly mauled the Iranian Navy. 1988. This could also be seen by the clerical leadership. however. undertaken on April 18 1988 simultaneously with the Iraqi offensive. the IrAF never again flew any large-scale raids into the Persian Gulf. (Author's collection) After this catastrophe. in February and December 1987. A good example for such events was the massive IrAF strike against Khark island.interceptors‟ presence. but was even more influential due to its sheer firepower: the Iraqis so feared the F-14 and its AIM-54A missiles that their pilots were instructed to avoid engagements with Tomcats at any price. The simultaneous end of the clandestine US support for Iran coincided with the increasing pressure by the IrAF against the Iranian economy. but also themselves losing five aircraft to Iranian F-14 Tomcats. who had sent the IRGC to attack heavily defended Iraqi positions around Basrah. or decided to continue. usually suffered extremely heavy losses as Iranian Tomcats scored repeatedly using all available weapons. In that sense. Deemed "written off" by all Western sources. as a face-saving opportunity. to the Strait of Hormuz area.

made it clear to the leadership in Tehran that the conflict had to be ended sooner rather than later. The downing of the Iran Air Airbus A300, on July 3, 1988, heavy losses of the IRIAA during the fighting on the central front, and the downing of two F-14As by Iraqi Mirage F.1EQ-6s, on July 19, were in that sense only some of the last acts in a war, which was indeed lost and won – if the fact that the Iraqi regime survived a war determined to be ended with its demise, can be considered as a victory – by air power, or lack of the same.

USN A-6E from VA-95 “Green Lizards” dropping CBUs on Iranian warships and speedboats during the Operation Praying Mantis, on April 18, 1988. Praying Mantis almost broke the back of the Iranian Navy, decreased its capability to escort convoys of oil tankers between the Khark Island and the Hormuz, and almost crushed the superiority it had enjoyed in the war against Iraq so far. Nevertheless, for the Iraqis, this operation came too late, as by that time they had given up trying to stop the Iranian oil exports via Khark. (USN photo) Unrecognized Lessons The experiences from the use of airpower during the Iran-Iraq War are of immense importance, yet completely ignored. It was the first war in which both sides used a large number of medium-range air-to-air missiles (MRAAMs). Even more so, it was the first war in which long-range air-to-air missiles (LRAAMs) – precisely, the AIM-54A Phoenix – were used, with huge success – to engage tactical fighters. It was also the first war, in which an air force – the Iraqi – started to fly in small formations at medium levels and deploy standoff weapons in huge numbers in order to evade ground-based air defenses, instead of penetrating at very low levels. The Iran-Iraq War was also the first war in which both fighting sides attacked each other‟s nuclear reactors, and in which the surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs) were introduced by both sides as weapons of terror. It was an air war in which both sides made extensive use of all possible means of the electronic warfare; by 1988, the use of ECM – or the lack thereof – was decisive factor and a matter of life and death of many fliers on both sides. The First Persian Gulf War was also the first conflict in

which armed UAVs were deployed – by Iran – to attack land targets. And, finally, for the first time in anger, very-high-flying aircraft were shot down at their maximum operating altitude using LRAAMs. Despite all, the air war between Iraq and Iran was so far one of the least known, worst researched, and most ignored and misunderstood air wars ever. The most likely reason for this fact is that the war was used as a testing ground for a huge number of diverse weapons systems, many of which debuted nowhere near as expected or advertised by their manufacturers, as well as the fact that both the West and the former Soviet Union completely underestimated the capabilities of the two involved sides to wage a high-tech war, instead preferring to concentrate on some of the best known and most successful propaganda-campaigns of the 20th Century.

I Persian Gulf War: Iraqi Invasion of Iran, September 1980 Iraq Iraqi Army (IrA)

1400hrs, 22 September 1980: the T-62s of the 6th AD crossing the Iranian border. With the air strikes of the Iraqi air force, and the drive of the Iraqi ground troops, the war started. It was to end only eight years later, after terrible losses and immense destruction upon both, Iraq and Iran. (all photos Tom Cooper collection) In August 1980 the Iraqi Military had 212.000 troops, 2.000 tanks, 1.000 artillery pieces, 370 combat aircraft, and 230 helicopters. The Order of Battle of the Iraqi Army was as follows: I Army Corps (sector between Rawanduz and Marivan) - 7th Infantry Division (HQ Soleimaniyah) - 11th Infantry Division (HQ Soleimaniyah; including 113IB, parts of which were detached to III Army Corps) II Army Corps (sector between Qassre-Shirin, Ilam, and Mehran, armor deployed between Mehran and Dezful) - 6th Armored Division (HQ Baqubah) - 9th Armored Division (HQ Samavah; 35AB, 43AB, 14MB) - 10th Armored Division (HQ Baghdad, 17AB, 42AB, 24MB) - 2nd Infantry Division (HQ Kirkuk) - 4th Infantry Division (HQ Mawsil) - 6th Infantry Division (HQ Baqubah) - 8th Infantry Division (HQ Arbil) III Army Corps (HQ al-Qurnah, sector between Dezful and Abadan)

15MB. 34AB) .113 Infantry Brigade (detachments) There were also two independent armored brigades.10th Armored Division (HQ Baghdad. probably attached to the 10th Independent Armored Brigade. Standard Iraqi armored division (AD) of the time had two armored (equipped with 300 T-62 MBTs) and one mechanized brigade (with BMP-1 ICVs). 10AB) . as well as support elements. based at al-Rashid Barracks. held in reserve) . 1MB. one mechanized brigade (equipped with Czech OT-64s APCs or BTR-50s). 27MB. All Iraqi ADs and MDs had also an organic air defense regiment. the Iraqi SA-6s always remained under the Army control).1st Mechanized Division (HQ Divaniyeh. Their first confirmed appearance occurred only in 1982. and ZSU-23-4s. At later stages of the war the SA-13s replaced SA-9s in most of the mechanized formations. Within only few days after the start of the war. ..especially the AGM-65 Maverick-armed F-4Es: the crew of this BMP-1 is evacuating their vehicle in hurry because of two Phantoms that appeared over the horizon. another to 3rd Armored Division). in September 1980 the IrA operated some 100 T-72 tanks. 20MB) . 26AB. 12AB. the 10th and the 12th.10th Independent AB . and one artillery brigade. A standard Iraqi mechanized division (MD) had one armored brigade (equipped with 200 T-54/55s). According to Western sources. there is no firm confirmation yet that the Iraqi Army indeed operated T72s at this stage of the war. 8MB) .31st Independent Special Forces Brigade (minus two battalions: one was attached to 5th Mechanized Division. in Baghdad. and support elements.3rd Armored Division (HQ Tikrit. However.33rd Independent Special Forces Brigade . SA-9s.5th Mechanized Division (HQ Basrah. consisting of at least one SA-6 SAM-site (contrary to many wrong reports. Some Iraqi sources state that the first shot of the war was in fact fired by their T-72s. the Iraqi troops already learned to fear the attacks of the Iranian air force . . dislocations of which are as of yet unclear. 6AB.12th Armored Division (HQ Dahuoq. a single artillery brigade (with selfpropelled artillery).

The IrAAC did not control all the Iraqi helicopter assets: a VIP-Transport unit.39 Exocet anti-ship missiles. Theoretically. while a squadron of some 14 (out of 16 originally delivered) SA.342s and Mi-8s. had usually pairs of Mi-25s based at Basrah International. While well-armed. and Training Squadron” operated the handful of remaining Wessex HU. With some 40 examples in service.342 Gazelle was the main type of attack helicopter with the Iraqi Army Aviation early during the war.105 helicopters. beside the Mi-8s and SA. which. Transport. at the times of the larger Iranian offensives and after more Mi-25s were delivered to Iraq. the 4th SSOC established permanent detachments at each of these bases. Mawsil. alKut. and losses were heavy. Ruthbah.342L Gazelles. Also.342Ls. . Transport. Nassiriyah. The 4th ATTSOC/4th SSOC. Training. SA.52 helicopters. The exception from this rule was the “4th Assault.316 Alouette IIIs on order. some of which were compatible with AM. for example. each of which was equipped with a different types of helicopters. so that every squadron had a number of Mi-8s. the Mi-25s of the 4th SSOC were armed with chemical weapons. and Tallil. some of which were also armed with tanks for spraying chemicals. flying SA. but different flights from different squadrons were deployed at many different sites throughout the country. and SE. but effectively it was put directly under the control of regime already at these times. at which the Hinds equipped with chemical weapons stood constant alerts. and the unit would usually have at least a pair of Mi-25s armed with chemical bombs based at Samara. near the Presidential palace in Baghdad. Jalibah. also operated all the 17 Mi-25s available to the Iraqis at the time. and Special Operations Squadron” (4th ATTSOC). the IrAAC was under IrA control. and/or Falluja.321G/H Super Frelons. The main base of the IrAAC was al-Taji. the SA.Mk. Later. the same unit was to get Bo. was assigned to the Iraqi Navy. Very early after its establishment in 1980. Each of the squadrons had several flights. the “3rd Assault. Baiji.Iraqi Army Air Corps (IrAAC) The IrAAC at the time operated two “Composite Combat Transport Wings” (the 1st and the 2nd) with a total of eight squadrons of helicopters. Kirkuk. the type proved too vulnerable to any kind of anti-aircraft fire. was responsible for transportation of important political and military figures. Also later during the war. as equipment of the “4th Squadron‟s Special Operations Unit” (4th SSOC).

). at Qayyarah West (moved to Tahmmouz AB after the start of the war) . at al-Hurriyah AB (Kirkuk) Mosul Fighter-Bomber Wing . near Habbaniyah) . 1980-1988” was published by Schiffer Military Publishing. Su-22M & Su-22M-3R.No. 17 FS.1EQ (not yet delivered) .1EQ (not yet delivered) Bomber Wing . four were lost in combat (including one to IRIAF F-14As and two by IRIAA AH-1J Cobras). at Tahmmouz AB (the 7th and 8th Squadrons were later . 11 FS (Det. 63 FS. MiG-21MF.No. at Tahmmouz AB ("al-Taqaddum". Mirage F. 79 FS. Su-22M.No. out of six examples delivered to Iraq. by the end of 1980.8th Sqn.No. 5 FBS.No. Su-20.No. 44 FBS. 1 FBS. Atglen. 92 FS. in December 2002): IrAF/Support Command (Deployment as from north towards south. at al-Hurriyah AB (Kirkuk) . PA. the Iraqis were slow to introduce these to service. Iraqi Air Force (IrAF) (Note: The following Order of Battle for the Iraqi Air Force and the Iraqi Army Air Corps were upgraded with additional information. and from west towards east) Kirkuk Fighter-Bomber Wing . Besides.No.As the Soviets were slow to deliver more Mi-25s. Mirage F. at al-Hurriyah AB (Kirkuk) . MiG-21MF. not operational) . at Firnas AB (Mosul) Qayyarah West Wing (in formation. Tu-16/Tu-16K-11-16.No. MiG-23MLA. at al-Hurriyah AB (Kirkuk) .7th Sqn. Tu-22B/U. which were not available at the time the book “Iran-Iraq War in the Air.

MiG-21RF. while all the MiG-23MLAs were moved to Qayyarah West AB. Original intention was to test these aircraft against Iranians. 84 FRS. at least 12 MiG-21MFs and at least eight MiG-23MLAs. Tahmmouz AB . Although Moscow was time and again stressing its neutral stance regarding this war. their condition at the moment of Iraqi invasion remains unclear: according to one source they were not operational any more but used as decoys. Tahmmouz AB (in formation.No. not operational) . delivered from France). 84 Sqn (actually detachment).No.No.Detachment ?.No. Jet Provost T. This consisted of 24 MiG-25R/RB/RBShs. MiG-25RB. MiG-23MF. as well as all the AAA over caliber 57mm. not operational) Flying Leaders School . in north-western Iraq. MiG-21bis/MF. at Rashid AB (Baghdad) H-3/al-Wallid Wing .No. and the MiG-23MLA-unit consisted of Soviet but also Iraqi pilots. at Ali Ibn Abu-Talib AB ("Tallil") (in formation. ?? FBS. It must be added that a sizeable contingent of Soviet air force was operational with the IrAF at the time of invasion.No. MiG-23MS. and eventually the Soviets were forced to evacuate all MiG-25s to H-3/al-Wallid AB. For example. MiG-21bis. Hunter F.Mk.No. which was effectively put under Soviet control. at Rashid AB (Baghdad) .No. did not care very much about Soviet or Iraqi plans. 70 FRS.No. at al-Wihda/Shoibiyah AB The IrAF/ADC also operated almost 120 SA-2 and SA-3 sites (soon to be reinforced by at least four batteries of Roland-2 SAMs. while the MiG-21MFs were eventually all given to the IrAF after the war started. Su-22M. A handful of Il-28s were at Tahmmouz AB as well. Tahmouz AB (in formation. 39 FS "Defenders of Baghdad". at al-Wallid AB . 77 FBS. however. Additional strikes were flown on the following two days. at Ali Ibn Abu-Talib AB Shoibiyah Fighter-Bomber Wing . MiG-23MS. at al-Wallid AB al-Kut Fighter-Bomber Wing .No. but four F-4Es from TFB. ?? FS. Su-7BMK. 9 FS. between August 1980 and April 1981 four MiG-25s were put under Iraqi control.No. Rolands were to be deployed as single firing units. 73 FS.No. its . MiG-23BN. according to others they were deployed in combat. MiG-25PDS. MiG-21MF. at al-Wihda/Shoibiyah AB .52 at Rashid AB (Baghdad) al-Rashid Fighter Wing . MiG-21PFM. 11 FS. 23 FBS. 96 FS. MiG-23BN. ?? Sqn (actually detachment).Detachment ?.3 raided as-Shoibiyah heavily already in their first strike in response to the Iraqi invasion. The Iranians. . on the late afternoon of 22 September. all based at as-Shoibiyah AB. 109 FBS. at Rashid AB (Baghdad) . in western Iraq.No. at Abu Ubaida al-Jarrah AB ("al-Kut" or "al-Jarrah" AB) . near Basrah.No. before gradually putting them under Iraqi command. at Abu Ubaida al-Jarrah AB ("al-Kut" or "al-Jarrah" AB) Nasseriyah Fighter-Bomber Wing . While SA-2s and SA-3s were operated as complex sites.combined into the 10th Squadron).59A/B at Rashid AB (Baghdad) . not operational) .Mk.

PC-7 .31st Sqn/B Flight. A. and quite a few of which were cached and destroyed on the ground during early Iranian air strikes.202A Bravo . A. were used for military purposes. During the early days of the war there was a considerable chaos within the chain of command. Mi-2. two additional examples were lost while fighting Iranian counteroffensives in 1981). “Iraq Airways”. at al-Rashid AB IrAF/Transport Command Transport Brigade . Jet Provost T. An-2.7th Flying School. at NAS Umm-ol-Qassr . the units of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army were in very poor condition.212ASW. Il-76MD. IrAF/Training Command Air Force Academy.No. SA. which led to a situation in which most of larger units were scattered into small battle-groups.5th Flying School.6th Flying School. miscellaneous airfields Most of the transport aircraft – except all the An-12Bs.321GV Super Frelon. In September 1980 the IRIA had following units garrisoned along the Iraqi border: .contingent remained in Iraq until April 1981: it was actually evacuated only after the MiG23MLA-unit suffered heavy losses in air combats with Iranians (including four MiG-23MLAs to a single IRIAF F-14A. and several MiG-25s were destroyed and/or damaged on the ground by Iranian Phantoms in the "H-3 Blitz". L-29 .4th Flying School. that fought in cooperation with local militias and without a coherent overall command. Tikrit Basic Training .52. as all the generals of the former Imperial Iranian Army were removed from their posts after the revolution in 1979. (in formation.202A Bravo . The same company also operated numerous An-24TVs.32nd Sqn/A Flight. however. Most were down to only 50% of their strength (some even less) and under command of lowerranking officers. al-Rashid AB . SA.2nd Flying School. helicopters never delivered) Iran Islamic Republic of Iran Army (IRIA) In general. An-12B.1st Flying School. Mi-4.No.31st Sqn/A Flight. on 4 April 1981. ?? NS. but including all Il-76MDs – were operated in the colors of the Iraqi national airline.3rd Flying School. L-29 Weapons Training . at Baghdad/Saddam International . Iraqi Navy (IrN) Naval Aviation . AB. most of which. on 29 October 1980. ?? NS.342 Gazelle Primary Training (partially conducted from al-Rashid AB) . not operational.

with a battalion deployed in Sardasht. . . based in Shiraz. and covering the Soviet and Afghan borders.55th Independent Artillery Group. and 3rd in Sar-ePol-e-Zahab. with HQ in Tehran.. established as combination of the 2nd Guards Brigade and the 1st Infantry division in Tehran. 2nd in Zanjan. and a reconnaissance regiment (equipped with Scorpion LTs and M-113s). . . garrisoned in Khorasan. including 1st in Ghazvin. and covering the Oromiyeh. including 1st in Kermanshah. . .33rd Independent Artillery Group.16th Armored Division.37th Armored Brigade. covering the borders to Afghanistan and Pakistan.92nd Armored "Khuzestan" Division. deployment area unknown.23rd Special Forces Brigade. deployed in Khuzestan.81st Armored "Kermanshah" Division.22nd Independent Artillery Group. .21st Infantry Division.28th Infantry Division. Mahabad.88th Armored Brigade. based in Ghazvin. Piransahr and Salmas areas. deployment area unknown. . with one AB (equipped with M-60A-1s MBTs).84th Infantry Brigade. based in Zahedan (equipped with Chieftain MBTs). with total of four mechanized formations (including brigades of the former 1st Guards Division and Independent Guards Brigade. connecting the positions of the 81st and 92nd ADs. . with HQ in Khoramabad. and 3rd west of Ahwaz. Bn). deployed in the areas of Sanandaj. and 141 Infantry Battalion) . with three ABs equipped with M-60A-1 MBTs and M-113 APCs.11th Independent Artillery Group. consisting of one AB (equipped with M-47s) and two MBs (equipped with BTR-50s).30th Infantry Brigade. with three ABs equipped with Chieftain MBTs and M-113 APCs. based in Shiraz . but deployed in field and covering the Ilam area. deployed in Khuzestan. Saquez and Marivan. as well as remaining eastern Iran.64th Infantry Division. garrisoned in Orumiyeh. . and 3rd in Hamedan. deployment area unknown. two MBs (equipped with M-113s). . . .44th Independent Artillery Group. deployed along the Iraqi border in 13 separate detachments. including 1st west of Khorramshahr and south of Ahwaz. . based in Tehran. 2nd in Islam-Abad-Gharb.77th Infantry Division. 2nd west of Dezful. and a company each in Sanandaj and Dezful. with three ABs equipped with Chieftain MBTs and M-113 APCs (including 283rd Arm Cav. . with HQ in Gorgan. .55th Airborne Brigade.

Bell 209/AH-1J . main base Masjed-Suleyman . C-130H . Bell 214A * TFB.? Company.206 .2.?? TRS.? Company. in Kermanshah . Bell 209/AH-1J Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) * TFB. F-5E/F . O-2A . main base Shahid Ashrafi Esfahani.Detachment.Base Flight. RF-4E and RF-5A (only nominally: all aircraft were deployed with different units of 21st.? Company.205 and AB. C-130E/H .22nd TFS. F-4E & RF-4E (detachment at TFB. CH-47C Kerman Army Aviation Group. Fokker F.Tanker Squadron. Bell 214C .?? TS.Islamic Republic of Iran Army Aviation (IRIAA) Kermanshah/Bakhtaran Army Aviation Group. (E)C-130E .?? TRS. Beech F33 * TFB. F-5E/F . Mehrabad IAP (Tehran) 11th TFW .27M ?? Training Wing .?? TTS.1.Base Flight.23rd TFS. Tabriz IAP (Tabriz) 21st TFW . RF-5A (assigned to any of the three TFS') .3. main base Shahid Vatanpour (named so in 1981). Bell 214A & HH-43 .12th TTS.?? TS.? Company. T-33A .? Company. 31st and 61st TFWs) ?? TTW .?? COIN Sqn. Boeing 707-3J9C and Boeing 747-2J9F . near Esfahan.? Company. C-130E/H . Shahid Nojeh AB (former Shahorkhi AB. AB.12th TFS. AB. and Shahid Ashtari/4th Army Aviation Support Base . Bell 214C .206 .4 in 1981) . near Hamedan) 31st TFW .11th TTS. F-4E & RF-4E 1st ERW .Detachment. F-5E/F .11th OCU "Instructors".21st TFS.? Company.? Company. Bell 214C . Bell 209/AH-1J Esfahan Army Aviation Group.? Company.

all F-14s to 73rd TFS' detachment at Mehrabad in 1981) . instead. Kermanshah (by 1980 used by IRIAF only as emergency airfield.81st TFS.308th Detachment (72nd TFS). Esfahan) 81st TFW . F-14A (replaced by F-4Ds from 32nd TFW.71st TFS.61st TTW.72nd TTS.5 became one of main IRIAA bases) . F-4D (sent to 71st TFS in December 1980) .Base Flight. F-5E/F . F-4D (sent to 72nd TFS in December 1980) . Fokker F..Base Flight.41st TFS "Lions".72nd TFS "Flying Lions".73rd TFS.306th TFS.Detachment from 21st TFW. F-4E & RF-4E (from December 1980. C-130H .61st TFS.Base Flight. detachment at TFB.306th Detachment (71st TFS). Vahdati AB (Dezful) 41st TFW . F-4D (periodically from October 1980) . F-14A . Bell 214A * TFB. with F-4Es from 91st and 101st TFWs.82nd TFS. F-4E & RF-4E . F-4E & RF-4E . Khatami AB (later Shahid Baba'ie AB.7.VP-??.71st TTS.33rd TFS.34th TFS.31st TFS. with F-4Es from 71st TFS.9 in 1988) . F-4E & RF-4E .308th TFS.Base Flight. Bell 214A 32nd TFW . C-130E/H . TFB.62nd TFS. Hor AB (Shiraz) 71st TFW .4 from early 1981) .4.Base Flight. C-130E/H .27M . F-14A 71st TTW . P-3C * TFB.6. Bell 214A . F-14A . F-4E & RF-4E . F-4E (from December 1980.5.73rd TTS. Bell 214A * TFB. F-5E/F . Bushehr IAP (Bushehr) 61st TFW . Bell 214A * TFB.no units permanently deployed * TFB. detachment at TFB. F-5E/F .42nd TFS "Devils".8.32nd TFS. F-4D (periodically from October 1980) . F-4E (replaced for F-4Ds from 32nd TFW) . F-5E (temporarily deployed in October/November 1980) .43rd TFS "Tigers".

F-4E * TFB. Bell 214A * TFB.1 infantry battalion from 21st ID . 106mm recoilless guns. the IRIA had following units at hand: 92nd Armored Division was covering 400km of front (which was attacked by five Iraqi divisions and something like five brigades). manning the main fortifications north of Khoramshahr and 27 other fortifications developed along the border to Iraq (usually built some three kilometers from the border). This unit was at 50% of its nominal manpower. which was the main target of the Iraqi invasion. C-130E/H * TFB.12 Masjed Soleyman (used by IRIAF as dispersal airfield or for basing of an F-5Edetachment from 41st TFW.HM-?.Base Flight.300 troops in total. F-5E/F (in formation) .37th Armored Group. was to see larger deployment of IRIAF units only from 1981) 51st TFW (in formation) . this unit was equipped with 80 M-4 Sherman and M-24 Chaffee tanks. F-5E/F (in formation) * TFB. crews sent to TFB. AB.212ASW Iranian Deployment in Khuzestan For the defence of Khuzestan. F-4E ..11 Omidiyeh AB (Aghajari) (construction incomplete and not operational at the start of the war.151 Fortification Battalion. it should have counted some 1. Bandar Abbas AB (Bandar Abbas) 91st TFW .9.101st TFS.HC-?. but was badly understrength. as well as for larger detachment of IRIAA helicopters) .91st TFS "Sharks".10.92nd TFS. emplaced in a number of static fortifications (each "fort" had two tank-emplacements).52nd TFS. MH-53 .3. but reinforced by following elements: . composed of parts of the 37th Armored Brigade deployed to support the 2nd AB/92nd AD west of Dezful.51st TFS. .101st TTS.HS-?.3 Marine Battalions Islamic Republic of Iran Naval Aviation (IRINA) * NAS Chahbahar . reformed in the 1990s with remaining F-4Ds) . F-4E (disbanded in 1980.1 infantry battalion and 1 armored company from 77th ID . Chah Bahar AB (Chah Bahar) 101st TFW . . Bell 206 .no units permanently deployed Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) . anti-aircraft artillery and anti-tang guided missiles.

1 battalion of IRIN Marines (deployed at Khoramshahr Naval Base). .. . II Army Corps . capturing Panjwin after two days of fierce fighting against Iranian border troops. and reached the foothills of the Zagros Mountains.1st and the 11th IDs mainly operated against the Kurds .which made excessive use of AGM-71A TOW ATGMs – and the IRIAF the Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II . with the task of capturing Orumiyeh and Sandandaj. Basij. and the local Pasdaran. Once the Iraq invaded Iran.the task of two armored divisions belonging to this corps was to capture Dezful and sever the road connections between northern and southwestern Iran. threatened Ilam. it was swiftly stopped by counterattacks mounted by the Iranian Army Aviation (IRIAA) and the Air Force (IRIAF). The IRIAA deployed a large number of Bell AH-1J Cobra attack helicopters .1 armored battalion from 88th AD . However. Iraqi Invasion The Iraqi operations between 22 and 30 September 1980 developed as follows: I Army Corps . . gendarmerie. but renamed back to Kermanshah after the war with Iraq). on 22 September. then advanced towards the provincial capital Kermanshah (renamed Bakhtaran after the revolution in Iran. thus cutting off the road network connecting northern Iran with Dezful and the rest of Khuzestan.10th AD was to drive deep into Iran together with the 9th AD. Iranian Army Chieftain seen moving towards the front near Abadan: a single company of these tanks remained inside the city after it was put under a siege by the Iraqis.4th ID started actually the first attack into Iran. capturing the city after much fighting in which the place was completely destroyed.7th MD advanced towards Qassre-Shirin. the 4th ID started a drive into Iranian Kurdestan.2nd ID captured Mehran. and Mostafazin units (which were joined under the unitary “Revolutionary Guards Command” as per 1 January 1981) even before the invasion was officially started.

1st MD was tasked with an offensive from al-Amarah towards Ein-e-Khoosh and Fakeh. . In a series of air strikes during the first five days of the war. destroying over 200 of its MBTs and APCs. which while trying to buy time for the heavier Iranian Army units to be mobilized. some 75km behind the border. In the process of the advance. The drive of this unit. Topography of the area favored invaders and the use of tanks and other armored vehicles. driving over 40kms into Iran within the first week. The division successfully accomplished the deepest Iraqi penetration of the war: it's elements were the first to reach the Karakeh River. In a drive similar to that of the 10th AD. napalm. and directly threatened the Vahdati AB (“TFB. on its northern flank. armed with Mk.4” in Iranian military parlance). and secure additional oil resources. towards via Dehloran and Musian to Malavi. on the seventh day of the war. it captured the strategically important early warning radar station some 15km southwest of Dezful. was also stopped by the stubborn resistance of the IRIAA and the IRIAF.9th AD managed a much deeper penetration. . in late September 1980.6th AD was to do the same. which was put under heavy artillery attacks.fighters. effectively neutralized the 9th AD as a combat-capable unit. as well as 68mm rocket launchers. the unit reached northern suburbs of Ahwaz by the end of the first week of the war. in turn causing IRIA units to pull back in good order behind Pol-Naderi bridge on Karakeh River. in turn isolating Ahwaz from the north. Andimeshk and Dezful. then pass north of Susangerd and capture Ahwaz. isolating Dezful from the north in the process. . .82s. however. III Army Corps Task of the units belonging to this corps was the actual target of the whole invasion: the capture of the Iranian oil-rich province of Khuzestan. enlarge the Iraqi reach into the Persian Gulf. . with aim of reaching and capturing Andimeshk and Dezful. almost 50% of the vehicles belonging to the 10th AD were destroyed.10th AD was to push along a route parallel to the 1st MD. this unit became stuck only few kilometers from the border and was not able to advance until the 10th AD penetrated deep into Iran. and cluster bombs. but along a southern route: it was to penetrate Iran near Bostan. in order to secure the waterway of Shatt-al-Arab for Iraq. Parts of the 1st MD advancing towards Dezful.

Battle of Karakeh River The battle of Karakeh River erupted when elements of the 1st MD. on their advance towards Andimeshk and Dezful. Battle of Karoun River The battle of Karoun River erupted on 11 October 1980. . then turning south and isolating Khoramshahr. and managed a penetration of only some 15-20 kilometers. Nevertheless. it was barely able to cut the road connecting Khoramshahr with Ahwaz in the northeast.5th MD attacked directly towards and to the north of Abadan: it's original objective was advance on and the capture of Ahwaz. and did not participate in combat. From that point the Iraqis could advance towards east and south. .3rd AD was to build the third prong of this attack. The unit achieved only a minimal penetration and was not able to do more than support the 3rd AD in its advance. when elements of the 5st MD and 6th AD established a small bridgehead on the eastern side. some 15km northeast of Khoramshahr. in March 1982: weeks later. established a bridgehead near Shoush. these two units achieved an encirclement of Khoramshahr. It's 12th "Abu-al-Wallid" Armored Brigade was held back as Corps reserve. with the target of driving some 40km deep into Iran. As a result. and eventually encircle Dezful. It was stopped by exceptionally heavy Iranian air attacks while advancing north of Khoramshahr.T-62s of the 6th Iraqi AD seen on the Karakeh Plain. near Darkhowein. this unit was almost annihilated by Iranian attacks which turned the course of the war against Iraq. . causing a surprise on the Iranian side and threatening to block local Iranian supply routes.

This plan was very bold. resulting in a small dent in Iraqi lines: while the infantry of the 21st Division advanced for few kilometers. However.4) and the strategically important Dehloran radar site were held by following units (as seen from the north towards the south. calling for a swift advance of few small Iranian Army units (equivalent of one division) against no less but two reinforced Iraqi divisions. This was the only significant operation of this war in which the IrAF Hunters are known to have participated. the operation at the Naderi Bridge had a potential to cause severe losses to the 10th Iraqi AD . The task of this operation was to breach the Iraqi frontlines near Sorkheh Naderi.3AD (35 + 43 AB.33 Special Forces Bde (in particular the 8th and 9th Bn) . stretching from Beyat. achieved only minimal gains. This was to be based on reinforcements deployed from Tehran into the Dezful and Andimeshk area. but apparently did not participate in this operation. the frontlines defending Dezful with the Vahdati (TFB. it was also the last opportunity at which this type saw combat.hit the M-60 MBTs and M-113 APCs of the 291st Battalion as these were marshaling for their advance in a valley north-east of Andimeshk. which also caused heavy damage and resulted in the Iranian unit being left without fuel and ammunition. The 2nd Brigade of the 92nd Armored Division was also deployed in the Shoush area. According to Iraqi sources interviewed recently. Even more severe was the blow the Iraqi fighters caused by a strike against the supply column of the Iranian battalion. foremost on elements from the 21st Division. the Hunters of the IrAF Flying Leaders School . Battle of Khorramshahr Iraqi Army Units Involved (Sept/Oct. the First Iranian Counter-offensive Already in early October 1980 the High Command IRIA prepared its first counter-offensive. Eventually. Without surprise.1980) . on the Iraqi border. the southern prong would then turn towards south and attack Iraqi rear installations in the Bostan area. supported by the 291st Armored Battalion/77th Division.if the initial attack could breach its left flank. the Iranian offensive had to be cancelled before it was properly started. due south-east of Andimeshk. In the case of success. launched on 15 October 1980.On the Iranian side. this offensive. 14th MB) . the pre-emptive Iraqi air strikes made it impossible for the Iranians to launch their armored strike. and launch a two-pronged advance: the northern via Dashe-eAbas towards Ein-e-Khoosh. and southern via Chenaneh towards Fakkeh. It is interesting to note that this was another occasion during this war when the air power delivered at least one of decisive blows: even if the Iranian planning was overenthusiastic.31 Special Forces Bde (in particular the 2nd and 3rd Bn) . destroying a number of tanks and APCs. via Nahr-Anbar and Shoush to Fakkeh): 283rd Arm Cav Bn/92nd AD 2nd AB/92nd AD 37th AB (Combat Group) 138th Inf Bn/21st ID 141st Inf Bn/21st ID (held as reserve at Pol-Naderi bridge) Failed Experience: Battle of Naderi Bridge.flown by some of the most experienced Iraqi pilots .

and move reinforcements to Khuzestan: by the time Khorramshahr fell.3rd Republican Guards Special Forces Bn (detached from Republican Guard Brigade) The first Iraqi operation to enter Khorramshahr was launched by the main body of the 3rd AD.4th Commando Bn (detached from 2ID) .1st Bn (detached from 49IB) . This was stopped with heavy losses for Iraqis. Ahwaz and Susangerd.. far beyond what Iraqi war plans envisaged. this battle enabled the Iranians to stabilize front-lines at Dezful. and 77th ID. This was stopped and blocked at Pol-No and Nahr Arayez. as reported in several different sources. The next attempt had been launched by the 8th Battalion of the 33rd Special Forces Brigade. Conclusions Overall Iraqi plan for invasion of Iran was originally indeed based on similar British plans for an intervention from the 1950s. The battle of Khorramshahr lasted for 34 days. and could not proceed with attack. 21th ID. In turn. resulting in Khramshahr frequently being nicknamed "Iranian Stalingrad". causing a shock on the Iraqi side.al-Hassan Tank Bn (detached from 26AB/5MD and attached to 33rd SF Bde) .1st Bn (detached from 23IB) . but also the 16th AD.3 Mech Bn (detached from 15AB/5MD . T-62 of the 3rd AD passing down the streets of Khoramshahr: only a handful of buildings in the city were not destroyed during the fighting in October and November 1980.Jeish-Al-Shabi Forces (two battalions of paramilitary) .the main body of which was attacking towards Ahwaz on flank of 3AD) . followed by armor support. in every of which the planning was updated by Iraqis in accordance to changes on .1st Bn/429IB . the Iraqi Army units deployed to capture this province were no longer facing just the Iranian 92nd AD. After almost 30 years.2nd and 3rd Bns (detached from 2IB/2ID) . and saw an immense investment of Iraqi forces. The IrA commanders reacted by deploying additional commandos.

and fought accordingly . when the Islamic Revolution developed. and this was actually still in organization in 1979. Iranian Chieftain MBT seen early during the war.especially not with Iraqi troops so deep within their territory. and artillery. The missing link which in the end turned the whole Iraqi operation into a failure was the airpower aspect: the IrAF could never match the Iranian flying services. and then negotiating on the basis of "new situation". the eventual idea for invasion in 1980 was to drive the Iranian artillery units away from the Iraqi border. Consequently.even if their Army was almost exclusively equipped with Soviet MBTs. and then Baghdad intended to negotiate with Tehran. a completely new plan was developed. Accordingly. The Iranians had only one Armored Division stationed in Khuzestan on the start of the war. the two of its armored brigades did their best to help stop the Iraqi advance. the Iranians were even less ready. This would be completely in accordance with standard Arab war strategy of delivering a heavy "first blow". The most important Iraqi units fared surprisingly well: "tank-raids" deep over the open terrain between the Iranian cities several times surprised the Iranian High Command. then the Iranians were not ready to negotiate .the Iranian side.foremost Basrah. The Iraqi military was well-equipped but actually not completely ready for the war when it was ordered for an invasion of Iran: nevertheless. Also.for firming itself in power. This task was to be completed within a time-frame of between three and seven days. the Iranian clergy was interested in extending the war and exploiting it for own purposes . According to former high-ranking Iraqi officers. APCs. foremost the IRIAF . Although many observers tend to describe the Iraqi operations as "Soviet-style". the unit was not ready for fighting when the Iraqi invasion came. This idea led nowhere. Nevertheless. and there was no intention for holding any Iranian territory for any longer periods of time. causing shock and chaos between scattered Iranian units that were badly outnumbered and overstretched in an attempt to defend too large parts of the frontlines. the penetration the Iraqi High Command was looking for was not to be deeper but 40km. the Iraqis were far more influenced by the British. so these could not shell Iraqi cities .

which caused shortfalls felt even by the IRIAF . but also causing tremendous losses to the Iraqi Army on the ground. was in vain. and Jordan. In response. Quite a few helicopters (as well as IRIAF aircraft) went into combat still wearing the title of Imperial Armed forces. Syria. Within only 24 hours. This hope . It lacked the firepower. the IRIAF hit all the major pumping stations along the oil-pipelines to Turkey. The Iraqi oil industry was not to recover from this blow for several years. and then also neutralized the two oil terminals south of al-Faw (al-Omayeh and al-Bakr). The IRIAF campaign against Iraqi POL depots and oil industry was three-fold: the Iranians effectively interdicted those oil depots that were supplying fuels and lubricants to the Iraqi military. It was mainly due to the immense efforts of their pilots that the Iranians managed to stop the Iraqi onslaught. they blocked the Iraqi ports of al-Faw and Basrah. but. Subsequently.and it would take less time if there was not a period of bad weather through the early October 1980 . the IRIAF turned into a war-fighting machinery. effectively . The Iraqi Air Force gave its best to put the IRIAF under pressure.summer of 1980. damaging the whole Iraqi oil industry to such a degree that Iraq had to cancel all oil exports. it turned its attention against targets of propagandistic character.as well as evacuating injured . Consequently.the IRIAF effectively stopped the Iraqi invasion by completely destroying its supply. aircraft capability. but only few of its support operations were effective. the IRIAF mounted a strategic POL-campaign.along the front.and the IRIAA. and training. The sole success the Iraqi fliers achieved that far in the war was the disruption of the fuel supply in Iran. Right from the start of the war.fuelled foremost by reports from Iranian officers who defected to Iraq during 1979 and . they hoped that the condition of the Iranian Air Force and the Army Aviation would be at least as poor as that of the rest of the Iranian military. The IrAF also suffered considerable losses.in one moment depleting its strategic reserves of kerosene to a level sufficient for only a few days. Within only three weeks .especially . The Iraqi regime knew this. transport helicopters of the Iranian Army Aviation and Air Force were very active in moving reinforcements and supplies . There was also a hope that the IrAF could suppress the IRIAF by the first strike against most important Iranian airfields. striking not only all over Iraq. and most of the depots near the front.

the Iranians caused immense casualties to the inexperienced Iraqi Army. Only a considerable chaos within the regime in Tehran and the leadership in field. and Azerbaijanis . In fact. then the highly patriotic Iranians rallied around regardless which leadership in Tehran to defend their country. the Iraqi invasion enabled the shaky regime in Tehran to establish itself in power. Although in the state of chaos the Iranian Army and other ground forces (including different formations of the "Revolutionary Guards".joined the battle for the defence of Iran. Eventually. dropped by IRIAF F-4Ds: although four aircraft each armed with two LGBs were sent into this attack. Contrary to Iraqi expectations. The KRB3MR-bridge. Consequently. even Arabs living in Khuzestan . Actually. Gendarmerie and Police) proved able to improvise stubborn and bitter resistance. foremost caused by the Islamic Revolution of 1979. the Iraqi offensive had to fail: the Iranian regime could not be crushed from within by a foreign intervention.but so also Iranian Kurds. . But. seen here after being hit and destroyed by GBU-10 LGBs.stopping the oil flow. and thus resulted in exactly the opposite situation than expected. prevented Iranians from deploying the full power of their military against Iraq already at an early stage in the war. even in 1980 most Iranians expected this war not to last for longer than few weeks: that this did not happen was one of the most severe blows for many of them. at the time of the revolution they were not yet aware of this fact. which came as a complete surprise for the Iraqis. Armenians. already the first bomb hit home and the Iraqi advance north of Ahwaz was stopped.

Their invasion of Iran therefore died in the face of stubborn Iranian resistance . By the time Khoramshahr fell. a single squadron of IRIAF F-14s established air superiority over the battlefield in Khuzestan. To besiege encircled Iranian cities in Khuzestan the Iraqis needed additional resources. would not have been enough to stop the Iraqis .2) .Patriotism alone. that the Iraqi Army's offensive capability was effectively neutralized. managed to find the Iraqi break-through and destroy any vehicle their pilots could find.because the IRIAF and the IRIAA.where Iranian air power could not play a dominant role or be effective .4) and Hamedan (TFB. their strategic reserves were drained down to a point where they were not able of re-starting any offensive operations for years to come. however.contrary to what is usually reported about this war . The Iranian air operations were frequently so effective.without the Iranian air power. The air power was thus . and even less so to prevent IRIAF F-4s and F-5s.3) . . however. The Iranian flying services effectively won this "Battle of Persia" even at a price of ultimate sacrifice of many precious crews and aircraft.situated only few kilometers from the Iraqi border. in mid-October 1980. The reasons for the success of Iranian air operations are manifold. The bold Iraqi offensive over the Karoun River. The IRIAF hit these heavily and repeatedly. For this reason the Iraqis were eventually able of capturing only one large Iranian city: Khoramshahr . flour and room . the advancing Iraqi mechanized columns were put under vicious air strikes that destroyed men and equipment. and in turn enabling the units from Vahdati AB (TFB. The IRIAF and the IRIAA.reinforced by elements from Tabriz (TFB. Although Iraqi sources deny this stubbornly until today. in late October. Elsewhere. that there are several examples in which a division of four AH-1J Cobras was sufficient to stop advance of a whole Iraqi armored brigade for hours. artillery pieces and supplies. were highly effective in destroying so many Iraqi vehicles. The Iraqis could not continue their advance despite a decision for their armored and mechanized units to drive deep between the Iranian cities. Such cases proved decisive. and so cut these off the rear instead of becoming entangled in urban warfare. namely. for example. despite all the problems with targeting intelligence.instrumental for the eventual outcome.to first neutralize newlyestablished Iraqi air defence system in the area (consisting of several SA-6-sites). The City of Khoramshahr was eventually captured by the Iraqis after exceptionally bitter fighting for every house. had to be moved along exposed supply communications. These. by downing over a dozen Iraqi fighters within only two days.and then the rainy season of November 1980. and then destroy the Iraqi supply-net. The IrAF was out of condition to counter F-14s.but during which the Iraqis suffered such heavy losses that they never attempted anything similar with any other Iranian city again. as well as IRIAA AH-1Js from hitting Iraqi ground forces heavily. namely. was spoiled despite the moment of surprise and chaos it caused in local Iranian forces .

The early development of GCC air forces was instead primarily driven by a number of socio-economic and political factors. • Early warning remains a vital force multiplier . Effective threat assessment.defensive forces must be able to fight from a „cold start‟ in the case of warning failure. „Wars of necessity‟ involving conventional military homeland defence receded in incidence. Long-considered one of the least likely candidates for reform in its military procurement and force planning policies. platform procurement. as opposed to conventional warfighting capabilities. complementing their low populations and high government revenues. • Cold-War style overland invasion by armoured forces remains a serious threat in the Gulf. and technological developments often figure disproportionately in assessments of the capabilities of modern air forces. Despite this. Saudi Arabia. Qatar. • Homeland defence and the maintenance of navigable sea-lanes remains the primary focus of GCC armed forces. the end of the Cold War did not radically alter the threat spectrum and air force mission profiles facing GCC states. the so-called „Halt Phase‟. is vital to the development of air power procurement and employment options. air-to-air capabilities are firmly second-place to air-to-ground capabilities. and the UAE – present a revealing case study of how small and medium-sized regional states are adapting to changes in the procurement and operational environments. the level of financial commitment. development of effective air forces requires increasing ingenuity at the dawn of the 21st century. and as air opposition is low in many interventions. the associated „tanker war‟. and constraints on the skilled manpower base and available technologies. Like many small and medium sized regional states outside Europe. the Gulf War. the activities of GCC air forces now provide key pointers to future trends. as states remain focused on the regional military balance. The importance of maintaining effective air defences both over cities and maritime arteries was harshly driven home to the combatant and non-combatant Gulf States alike during the Iran-Iraq war. Kuwait. GCC militaries have hosted and closely interacted with western air forces for over a decade. Oman.Future Development of GCC Air Forces Orders of battle. Chechnya. focusing on both the national threat and specific air warfare threat environment. Building and maintaining an air arm requires careful consideration of the threat profile facing a state. Post-Cold War readjustment stressed expeditionary warfare – „out-of-area‟ deployments and voluntary involvement in „wars of choice‟. Despite landmark air operations in the Balkans. • Expeditionary warfare is not a major factor. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states – Bahrain. the Gulf was the crucible of air warfare in the 1990s. Interventionist countries no longer face a single monolithic threat from either NATO or the eastern bloc and thus require strategic airlift capabilities and ship-borne carrier aviation to meet the geographically dispersed threats of tomorrow. Air-to-air and surface-to-air capabilities remain of great importance in the Gulf States. and Afghanistan. Following two decades of conflict in the Gulf. The strategic context of the Gulf States has not changed as radically nor in the same ways as that of western powers. and the militarised containment of Iraq that followed. With growing downward pressures on defence spending and increasing focus on counter-terrorism. In the case of the GCC states. to building and maintaining capabilities. Air and air defence-led deterrent postures were eminently suitable for the GCC states. lack of sufficient strategic depth demands that rapid results are achieved at the early stage of any invasion. the „western way of war‟ calls for minimal exposure of friendly troops and non-combatants to risk. however. . • No Gulf State can assume that it will begin a conflict with air superiority and few will manage to attain air supremacy without western assistance. threat assessment has not always been an integral part of GCC force planning. As vital interests are not at stake in typical western interventions. despite improving relations between GCC states and their regional neighbours. Large transfers of modern aircraft cemented western security guarantees and acted as symbols of national pride and growing modernity. The result has been a quiet shift from building fleets and inventories. threat assessment has become an increasingly important driver in the development of GCC air and air defence forces.

Though is difficult to imagine military scenarios where western security guarantees will not prove to be the decisive factor. The first. goods. the Bahrain Amiri Air Force (BAAF) is postured to detect and delay incoming attackers. and interstate clashes will accompany the nation-state building process. This is despite construction of new shelters and dispersal hardstands at Sheikh Isa. Though GCC states and their air forces face many common threats. incrementally changing balance of power in the Gulf involves long-term battles of perception concerning the identification of regional leaders. and increasingly need to display credible military forces to reduce the leverage and high profile of western security guarantors. there is ample evidence that once issues become politicised. and increase the political credibility and potential for independent policy of the regional alliance. strong pressures are depressing spending on high-intensity armed forces. military capability represents a key bargaining chip. Bahrain represents a key tripwire in the early warning chain being developed by the GCC. In designing their air arms. As serious as potential external threats are. expanding the spectrum of potential threat agents beyond the state‟s geographic neighbours. on the one hand. the GCC are conscious that peace and stability are a product of deterrent dynamics in the region. in April 1986. but economic and socio-political well being provides the other legs that allow the structure to remain standing. oil dependence. Air forces have historically been the primary combatants in such clashes. In a major conflict with Iran or Iraq. the varied geography and differential sizes of GCC states has led each state to identify the unique roles and missions of its own air arm. Gulf leaders are growing increasingly aware of urgent non-military threats to regime stability and national security. This reduces the likelihood of major armed conflict. Yet while the offensive capabilities ranged against the Gulf States are increasing. or people-smuggling criminal organizations)..The GCC states have found themselves vulnerable to a broadening range of military and paramilitary threats. The sanctuary of range is fast disappearing for Gulf States. As democratic civil society develops in the Gulf. This was amply demonstrated when Iraq fired Scud missiles at Bahrain in 1991.and the Zubara enclave on the Qatari mainland. history dictates that nationalistic tensions. Prolonged forward defence is unlikely. revolving around issues such as the contribution of forces during the resolution of crises and the relative willingness of certain states to back their words with actions. an airbase developed specifically to . Though issue resolution through arbitration and negotiation has enjoyed some success in recent years. and the possibility of regime change in Iraq. foreign debt. the Iranian-occupied Tunb islands and Abu Musa). The second scenario concerns Bahrain‟s important role in US regional contingency planning. and between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. the cessation of various border disputes between GCC states. whilst on the other. while in June 1991 the Bahraini Air Force penetrated Qatari airspace to warn against further actions. and likeliest. the GCC states have committed to a common defence policy. but does not necessarily reduce the political utility of well-balanced deterrent armed forces in the region. Iranian. concerns the resumption of armed clashes on Bahrain‟s shared maritime border with Qatar – including Hawar Island. and Israeli strategic missile forces continue to grow. Economic stagnation. and the Fasht al Dibel and Jarada shoals . as have the weapons of mass destruction capabilities of these states.g. the GCC states thus face a dilemma. Thus. • Sub-state actors and covert destabilization campaigns remain important proxy weapons in interstate warfare. The primary role of the small but effective Bahrain Amiri Air Force (BAAF) is patrolling of the country‟s extended coastline and offshore assets. The fluid. • The threat radii of Iraqi. however. Military deterrence is one vital pillar of national security. which may make the country a target for its northern Gulf neighbours. it can be argued that hostile intentions are likely to decline due to drivers such as the rise of moderates in Iran since 1997. The emirate has identified two primary threat scenarios. posturing. Other states such as the are developing long-range strike capabilities that extend beyond the 150km range of the Missile Technology Control Regime by marrying stand-off heavy air-launched cruise missiles to long-range strike aircraft. and profligate spending have left most GCC members incapable of maintaining defence expenditure and subsidized welfare simultaneously. particularly between Iran and Iraq. as Bahrain lacks the strategic depth or size for effective dispersal. Bahrain Bahrain‟s position at one of the most volatile points in the region makes it impossible for Manama to neglect its external defences. In such cases. particularly between Iran and the GCC states. Qatari helicopters fired on Bahraini positions on Fasht al Dibel. however. Other sub-state actors may be largely transnational and apolitical but nonetheless represent a serious national security threat (such as narcotics. they quickly become resistant to non-violent resolution (e.

with the main fighter base – Thumrait – positioned equidistant between the two threats. highlighting the need for low-level air-defence and anti-shipping capabilities. leading the KAF to stress dense low-altitude air defences. The key capability required to undertake this type of action is armour-killing firepower. a rehabilitated Iraq could again overshadow the Kuwaiti Air Force. and Iran. Though Kuwait mulled the development of an additional airbase in the south as late ago as November 1994. which the Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) helped repel. Oman maintains an ability to operate from strategic depth against either opponent. and the Anglo-Omani Saif Sareea (Swift Sword) exercises both focused on thinly veiled scenarios dealing with the Iranian threat. involving the renewal of persistent Iraqi claims to suzerainty over Kuwaiti territory – ranging in seriousness from the islands of Bubyan and Warbah. In both this scenario. The RAFO‟s dual role is to provide air-to-ground support to surface forces over its own territory and coastal waters. Thumrait.which have alternately dominated Kuwaiti defence thinking since the 1970s. less likely threat scenario revolves around a conflict in which Iran and Kuwait are brought to blows either due to bilateral maritime disputes or due to US presence in the country. Oman must defend over 2. until US forces can deploy. Omani and Iranian naval forces previously faced off in shows of force in 1980. we consider the war against Iraq to have never ended‟. the two key threat scenarios identified by Oman involve Yemen and Iran. Kuwait Kuwait does not have any border disputes with other GCC nations. and continues to televise threats against Kuwait. The Kuwaiti government remains the most belligerent GCC state vis-à-vis Iraq. Though Oman‟s northern territories are only 60-100km distant from major Iranian naval bases. The most likely threat scenario remains a major conflict with Iraq. however. air superiority would have to be contested within enemy airspace and at extended ranges. Instead the threat is confined to the northern Gulf States – Iraq and Iran . focusing on Bahrain. and missile launch baskets. The role and mission of the Kuwaiti Air Force (KAF) in a future Iraq scenario would include an early attempt to blunt or delay an Iraqi ground incursion during the crucial „Halt Phase‟. airfields. A second. Though Qatar‟s maverick foreign policy has reduced most tensions with the northern Gulf states. This weakness led Kuwait and the US to develop the more southerly Ahmed Al Jaber as the main operating base.reduce the vulnerability of the BAAF. The first involves the . Saudi Arabia. A second scenario envisages a breakdown in Oman‟s successful defence diplomacy and confidence-building programme with Iran. hardening at Khasab and Seeb indicates a forward defence posture. the BAAF would fall back on nearby Saudi airfields used by the BAAF for training. Qatar Though there are no explicit threats to Qatar‟s national security. the status of the deal is uncertain and the KAF would more probably fall back to Saudi main operating bases at Riyadh and Jubail. Oman After over twenty years of peace in Oman‟s Dhofar province and lacking any serious disputes with its GCC neighbours. the emirate is conscious of past conflicts and future potential for trouble. A second potential conflict scenario involves a clash on Qatar‟s land border with Saudi Arabia. through the Rumaila oilfield. and Muscat remains wary of future military adventurism along the 308km border. The core mission of the armed forces is to hold key points. The most likely threat scenario is a reactivation of the aforementioned territorial disputes with Bahrain. and will not disappear even if the Baathist regime in Baghdad is replaced. The positioning of Omani airfields reflects dual concerns about Yemeni and Iranian intentions. Thereafter. The northern islands facing the Straits of Hormuz are faced with the prospect of rapid Iranian heliborne or amphibious assaults. even though this facility is still only around 100km from the Iraqi border.900km of mainland coastline plus numerous islands. and Seeb (plus the planned Masana airbase) well beyond the range of Yemeni strike aircraft. leading to a deliberate or inadvertent clash on the Straits of Hormuz or Gulf of Oman. Whilst the no-fly and no-drive zones currently provide an unprecedented buffer of range and warning time to the Kuwaiti military. and Salalah beyond the current comfortable range of Iranian theatre ballistic missiles. Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed stated in early September that „while Saddam Hussein continues to keep Kuwaiti prisoners of war. two issues could lead to conflict with Iran. placing a high premium on maritime surveillance and transport capabilities. The first scenario foresees an incident similar to the 1987 Yemeni incursion into Oman. where Qatari land and air forces periodically practice holding actions in disputed wadis. which was previously based at the northerly Muharraq field. Potential causes of conflict with Iraq are long-standing. with Masirah. and that of Iranian air attacks. Kuwait recognises that tactical ballistic missiles and air-launched stand-off weaponry make it unlikely that the first wave of incoming attacks can be intercepted. Under sustained attack. including the Mutla Pass and thereafter the road junctions at Al Jahra. Kuwait‟s ability to undertake this mission would be greatly complicated against a rehabilitated Iraq. Kuwait‟s vulnerability to heliborne assault from Iraq was proven on 2 August 1990.

presenting a bevy of targets. suggesting a final conflict scenario concerning a preemptive Israeli strike on Saudi facilities. In October 2001. Failures to develop non-oil income and boost job creation represent major threats to economic security and social stability. plus a 222km border with Kuwait – which Iraq reached within twenty-four hours of invading Kuwait in 1990. Saudi‟s vital targets are mainly within easy striking range of potential foes. The heart of Saudi political and economic life is concentrated along and inland from this coastline. Khafji. creating strong impetus for the development of maritime patrol capabilities. perhaps with little strategic warning. and Lesser Tunb. Almost 1. it is Riyadh‟s perception. desalination and power plants. The core role of these services is to deter attacks by denial and punishment. In peacetime as well as during war. amphibious assault vessels.458km border with lawless Yemen. indicating its growing confidence and regional profile. Saudi Arabia is faced by a number of threat scenarios involving its peer competitors in the Gulf – Iran and Iraq. the UAE announced its intention to spend $50 million on de-mining operations in Lebanon – Operation Emirates Solidarity. Uniquely for a GCC state. Air forces must also be capable of acting as a force multiplier to increase the combat power of Saudi Arabia‟s land and naval forces. and navalised helicopters presents the UAE with a new tool to either pressure Iran into co-administering or withdrawing from the islands. and even in peacetime. Candidates include Ar‟ar. border disputes could turn „hot‟ with Yemen or Qatar. These threats must be balanced against a range of non-military threats to national security and the stability of the House of Saud that gained prominence throughout the last decade. The core military mission is to be capable of fighting from a cold start. Saudi airbase facilities boast great depth.000km of coastline faces Iran. This diverse range of threats and strategic key points moulds the roles and missions of the Royal Saudi Air Force and Royal Saudi Air Defence Force. The ongoing development of UAE naval power projection forces. including important offshore assets. indicating the need for a cordon of forward air and naval defences. Whether this is possible. Saudi aircraft and ballistic missiles must be capable of penetrating to the heartland of an attacking state and delivering heavy and accurate long-range strikes against high-value targets. military airpower must support the distribution of logistics and personnel across wide areas. peacekeeping duties in Kosovo. including the use of Al Udeid airbase. The role and mission of the UAE Air Force and Air Defence (UAEAFAD) appears to be developing from defensive and deterrent to include offensive and intervention roles. The most likely military conflict scenario facing the UAE involves the Iranian-held islands of Abu Musa. . and anti-shipping strikes) or punishment (long-range strikes against high-value targets in Saudi Arabia and Iran). including oil and gas installations. Greater Tunb. acting as an entry point for smugglers. Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia‟s expansive size means that it faces a diverse range of threats on its borders and beyond. the UAE has little strategic depth. Rafha. It is possible that the UAE will continue to deploy troops to emergencies involving Muslim communities. close air support. In 1999. Facing Iran. Saudi‟s air and air defence forces must be able to generate tactical warning of incoming aircraft and missile strikes and intercept them (perhaps within visual range) before they penetrate to the Kingdom‟s key economic targets or return to their home bases. Long-range strike and airlift forces are under development for these missions. Saudi Arabia must police a porous 1.N. and polluters. providing fallbacks against each potential foe – as the US intended. and to be capable of deploying to any threatened area in the country. or to retake and defend them. Though currently dormant. port. the UAE deployed AH-64A attack helicopters to U. Conversely. Saudi Arabia‟s stature. along which the main economic and population centres of the federation are arraigned. and instead views military threats as originating primarily from its 1. either by denial (air defence. attracts Israel‟s attention. and its possession of ageing Chinese CSS-2 intermediate range ballistic missiles. and urban areas. The second involves Qatar‟s growing role in US contingency planning. shipping. where major air bases are positioned less than ten minutes flying time from Saudi airspace. Saudi Arabia shares a 488km border with Iraq. the UAE has committed its armed forces to military intervention and support missions outside the Gulf. Saudi analysts remain concerned that Iraq could muster the strength to lunge over the border and take a Saudi border town „hostage‟. which hold the key to Qatar‟s economic future and represent a strategic prize. UAE The UAE has no major disputes concerning its land borders. or even Jubail or Hafr al Batin. The role and mission of the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) is to deter low-level incursions into Qatari territory and offshore holdings.massive North Pars gas field shared by Iran and Qatar. illegal immigrants. Geography dominates Saudi Arabia‟s military aerospace posture. The Gulf coast also presents numerous non-military security concerns.488km Gulf coast. If deterrence fails.

498.1996-00 Bahrain.2..569.....34....23.......1991-95. the cessation of major hostilities..342...3.. Bahrain and Oman are small markets and will rely heavily on the US to assist with procurement..8.......1. Average Annual Defence Expenditure in $ millions Five-year plan.... Qatar has completed most of its air and air defence procurement for the foreseeable future.....20.............7 percent since 1985..549....522.4 percent during the same period..........280 Saudi Arabia.904 Oman...999...1... Major Kuwaiti procurement projects frozen during the 1996-2000 fiveyear plan will be undertaken in the 2001-2005 five-year plan instead...................S.832..........6......4..334 Yemen..... defence spending in the GCC states only decreased by 21... the UAE.371...4.......703.. Saudi may defer major procurements until the 2006-2010 period..........683.. In contrast.........442. Saudi Arabia.30.. Following heavy spending commitments made in the early 1990s.. with the Omani government indicating that the 2001-2005 period will see Oman‟s major rearmament drive.....711 GCC total.........154...580....... and economic retrenchment in Iraq.......171.2....17.S..........817. The disparity in the growth and contraction of GCC and non-GCC states has been caused by the combination of sanctions. Though global defence expenditure has declined by 33...1...Defence and aerospace spending in the GCC states The pattern and significance of post-Cold War global defence spending has increased the significance of the Gulf as a source of arms sales.. Iran and Yemen. 1987-2002) The outlook for future defence spending varies from state to state...114 Qatar.869..052 Iran......1..22......... .......... and Iran drastically scaled back spending during its 1991-95 five-year plan. and Kuwait remain the key markets...... Following very high per capita spending in the late 1990s..........I......054....2.....1.1......... including expenditure of over $2 billion per year...... Kuwait and the UAE each have around $4 billion worth of uncommitted funding remaining..... Military Balance (London: I............842..... Of the $12 billion and $15 billion supplemental funds set aside for their respective rearmament programmes... Iraq largely dropped off the spending map.351 Kuwait..101.................560 Iraq...3.1986-1990..439 (Source: International Institute for Strategic Studies.553 UAE.... the withdrawal of foreign credits.....246.3..... Oman has initiated a sustained increase in spending....

and Kuwait. and communications technologies. Saudi Arabia. At the other end of the technology transfer scale. breakout occurs (i. military aircraft engines. (Photo: USAF) Procurement practices in the GCC Five key trends emerge from analysis of the air and air defence procurement practices of the six GCC states: US vendors are increasing their market shares: As well as dominating traditional markets such as Bahrain. The US continues to open markets and maintain market share by transferring large amounts of surplus military equipment (Excess Defence Articles or EDA) to GCC states.. and may extend aid to other states under the mantle of „the war against terror‟. Saudi F-5E/F). capturing future sales in the profitable fields of aerospace parts and technologies. GCC states may represent partners in collaborative design: The $2 billion UAE investment in collaborative development of key US technologies (such as the integrated avionics and Agile Beam Radar on the F-16 Block 60) indicates a change in the status of GCC states willing to commit large sums to procurement (for the moment limited to Saudi Arabia). GCC states ordering the Raytheon AMRAAM jumped from zero to four in two years). . in March 2003. It is often considered preferable to break major procurement commitments and delay in-service dates than order cheaper equipment with deleted sub-capabilities. with longer operational lifespan. and mothball large numbers of aircraft.e. Kuwaiti A-4KU. but looks likely to diminish. No-restrictions technology transfer was a key European and Eastern Bloc market differentiator in the past. New-build models. despite the risks posed by capability shortfalls and reduced inventories. Once one GCC state is cleared to receive a system. during operation "Iraqi Freedom". avionics.Row of USAF F-16CGs as seen parked on an Iraqi airfield hit by sand-storm. Buyers are prepared to delay major purchases. Upgrading current equipment is increasingly acceptable as an alternative to new procurement. the US is rapidly relaxing restrictive export controls to win business in the GCC states. push back out of services dates. The Bush administration has strongly increased Foreign Military Financing aid to Bahrain and Oman. Buyers are more cautious: Gulf States have slowed the rate of fleet replacement and aerospace spending in general. are preferred to second-hand equipment despite the price difference. New purchases may rely on part-exchange or resale of retired types (Kuwaiti and Qatari Mirage F-1. the US has made key inroads into the UAE and Oman markets.

in Oman (loading of a GBU-31 on an USAF B-1 bomber. but have been largely pushed underground. Bribery. Regardless if at Kuwaiti airfields (see the USAF F-15E above). through the use of commissions payments and local fixers (commission agents) continue at reduced levels. Offset agreements are now approaching 100-115% of the original value of the sale. Buyers are more assertive: Even buyers with comparatively little financial clout are growing intolerant towards overpriced and downgraded equipment. As the US influence is increasing.have reduced commissions. Closer ties with the US – which considers commissions payments as illegal bribes . guaranteeing that deence companies reinvest a portion of the value of the sale back into investments in the purchasing GCC state. or at Masirah AB. as have local initiatives. Above and bellow: in the last 15 years. providing extensive basing facilities . (Photos: USAF) . Tendering and selection processes are becoming more effective and more rigorous. the US servicemen can feel safe so far.in return for security guarantees. most of GCC states proved good US allies and supporters. paid in western currency). who have both instituted strong oversight into arms deals. led by the UAE and Kuwait. In exchange. bellow). the GCC states have experienced a period of immense economic development. and may include features such as pre-offset (invested before a sale has even been agreed) or cash offsets (a simple discount.Buyers are more professional: GCC procurement practices have improved greatly during the late 1990s. which mirrored also in the development of their armed forces. Buyers are also ensuring that competitive offset agreements are out in place. the times when other arms suppliers were delivering large amounts of arms are past: some of the GCC states are now selling even their advanced aircraft of European origin and replacing them by "Made in America" types.

Rejecting the inferior J-79 engines offered with some US models. where Bahrain remains poor. involving US EDA transfers.Three case studies of GCC procurement policy Bahrain Partly as a result of the strong US military aid it receives. acting as a replacement aircraft carrier when US naval vessels could not be spared. This has not been in the field of offset development. Kuwait‟s Deputy Minister of Defence. As well as providing low or no-cost equipment. Bahrain has proved to be a steadfast naval base and a useful host of US aerospace expeditionary forces. Where major purchases have been necessary. Bahrain also insisted that the advanced Raytheon AMRAAM missile be incorporated into the Peace Crown II deal. Bahrain has taken the long-term view and opted for the most advanced technologies on offer. Bahrain is likely to distribute most of its arms purchases amongst US vendors and surplus US government equipment. Kuwait has done – Bahrain has displayed canny procurement practices throughout the past decade. Bahrain applied total life cycle costing perspectives to the deal and stuck to its demand for more sophisticated models. extracting the best terms available from each vendor. where other Arab allies of the US might have failed. becoming the first nation in the Gulf to receive the missile and starting the technology break-out that has seen three other GCC countries receive the type in short order. Since then. such as the F-5E/F modernisation. the Bahrain Amiri Air Force meticulously weighed the technical merits of General Electric and Pratt and Whitney engines. A case in point is the Peace Crown I and II purchases of Block 40 F-16C/Ds. Kuwait Though Sheikh Jaber al Mubarak al Hamad al Sabah. Bahrain‟s relationship with the US has been very close since 1971. and has accessed sensitive technologies such as the Raytheon FIM-92 Stinger and AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. increasingly. have been procured at little cost. Bahrain enjoys a high degree of trust in the US Congress. Key upgrades. Though the US offered former US Air Force and embargoed Pakistani F-16A/B Block 10/15 aircraft (with mid-life upgrades). stated in 2002 that arms purchases were always constructed according to the merits of the weapons rather than the . but in the fields of cost-saving and technology transfer. Though lacking the financial clout to dictate requirements for cutting-edge US technology – as the UAE and. when US security guarantees and basing agreements quickly replaced similar arrangements with the British. as well as downgraded US F-16N models. Peace Crown II included the purchase of ten new-build F-16 Block 50/52 and the upgrade of Bahrain‟s 12 Block 40 models to Block 50/52 standard.

The deal was carried out as a government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) rather than commercial transaction. Seen are KAF F/A-18C fighters. Since 1992.surplus US equipment. Kuwait. the Kuwait Air Force is now very compatible with the US military. however.twelve years in the making – is a testament to Kuwait‟s determination to acquire top-quality versions of equipment. Kuwait held out. Though Kuwait is likely to continue to receive a high proportion of new and used US equipment. it will be through the choice of industries for offset investment. The US has also supplied vast amounts of low or no cost Excess Defence Articles (EDA) . armed with AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missiles (Photo: USMC) UAE . The AH-64D deal . to ensure it received a highly advanced version of the Apache. is no longer willing to jump through US Congressional hoops in this manner.9 billion deal that saw substantially downgraded Boeing F/A-18C/D delivered to Kuwait with tight restrictions on their employment. risking a major capability shortfall in the meantime. and has instead purchased a deadly and highly survivable day/night tank-killer. which could total „hundreds of millions of dollars‟ according to government spokesmen. Kuwait habitually diversified the source of arms to retain influence across the permanent members of the U. If Kuwaiti intermediaries profit at all. indicating that oversight will be present at the US end at least.. the Paladin howitzer deal showed that legislators could move to block deals if they involve non-competitively priced downgraded or surplus US equipment. but also extensive US support. $897 million from the U.K. Kuwait now displays more savvy procurement polices. like many Gulf States. Kuwait has ordered $7. Kuwait has historically accepted such deals – including the $1. and parliamentarians are bound to comb the clauses of a deal with so much room for kickbacks and commissions. with vastly reduced totals from Russia and China. The high unit cost of the deal may well raise eyebrows in the National Assembly‟s attentive Public Accounts Committee (or Audit Bureau). The Ministry of Finance and Countertrade‟s Offset Department looks set to monitor the agreement closely. This is a major turnaround when it is recalled that Kuwait was initially only allowed to purchase downgraded F/A-18C/D and ordnance on the proviso that it relinquished other older US aircraft it had on a one to one basis for the new aircraft. Security Council. $572 million from France. After more than ten years of almost continuous confrontations with Iraq.N.25 billion worth of defence equipment from the US.demands of „supplier politics‟. and has begun to use its leverage as a high spender in a buyer‟s market.

ships. allowing the UAE Air Force and Air Defences (UAEAFAD) to keep track of Israeli aircraft.5 percent fee levied by the US Department of Defence on Foreign Military Sales (FMS) deals. bringing UAE spending patterns into line with western air forces. This more balanced approach to defence spending should remedy many current weaknesses in UAEAFAD capabilities.A.F. it has been ongoing in a number of low profile projects for twenty years. The Khalifa Directive of December 1986 stated that no commissions agents or mediators were to be utilised in the sale of lethal equipment. maintaining competition between French and US vendors and accessing top-grade technologies rather than the downgraded export versions that Saudi Arabia accepted during the 1980s and 1990s. as both Saudi Arabia and Iran does. The UAE Offsets Group strictly requires that offsets worth at least 60 percent of the value of deals be fulfilled within seven years (ten at the maximum). highly forward-looking relationship with GECMarconi-Dynamics (now Alenia Marconi Systems) in the 1980s to design and build the Al Hakim series of powered stand-off precision-guided munitions. As well as high levels of spending on procurement and research and design. The UAE was reported to be mulling a major investment into the Russian air defence industry in 2002-03 as part of a mooted $4 billion purchase of Antei-Antey surface-to-air missiles and air defence sensors. . with whom the federation enjoys a very close and frank relationship. Deals are judged strictly on their technical and offset merits. The UAE embarked into a secret.E has also signalled its interest in becoming involved in the field of advanced next generation jet trainers and light combat aircraft. The 1995-2005 rearmament drive has been undertaken in a buyer‟s market and the UAE has shown itself to be a tough negotiator. If USAF or export sales are made. Where equipment did not meet specifications. Though such involvement became highly advanced in the late 1990s. or land formations. Though the scale of this deal is in doubt. This represents a new kind of relationship between the US and any Arab nation. and can effectively play off these vendors against each other. To save the 2.2 billion in FY2001) and Iran ($4. and with strong focus on profitability not simply investment.The UAE – for reasons of interoperability and effective relationship as much as any other – predominantly buys French and US armaments. the UAE has displayed strong determination in its dealings with western vendors. the UAE has also focused an increasing proportion of its defence expenditure on training and expansion of personnel and maintenance. The U. a growing trend that reveals features of the UAE‟s increasingly assertive and sophisticated procurement policy. The UAE successfully forced Lockheed Martin and the US government to stump up a $2 billion performance bond to guarantee F-16 deliveries and extracted a no-questions-asked $160 million advance cash offset to seal the deal. the UAE made a major and unprecedented investment in the US defence electronics industry. becoming the core partner in systems that will provide the backbone of the USA. Though outspent in raw value terms by both Saudi Arabia ($24. the UAE was allowed to make a direct commercial purchase of the aircraft. A professional tendering system operates through the UAE armed forces General Headquarters. The Pantsir deal was an early example of UAE direct investment in foreign defence industries. setting new standards of professionalism in GCC procurement practices. over a decade before such weapons altered expectations in the 1991 Gulf War. the UAE procurement drive has been both well timed and well executed. the UAE will receive royalties. The F-16 deal included a $2. More recently. of tomorrow. The UAE effectively started from scratch and does not have to service large fleets of aircraft. though this ban has slowly extended to most military equipment. allowed Russian debts to the federation to be liquidated in return for 50 Pantsir S-1 air defence units.6 billion). the UAE received the object codes required to update their aircraft mission computers with new types of threat without US assistance. with milestones at three and five years. particularly Dassault. however. the UAE has. in the past. Finally. on top of the standard 60 percent offset arrangement. The UAE‟s involvement in collaborative development projects makes it unique amongst GCC states.5 billion advance payment to assist in the development of a new internal avionics suite and $500 million towards the development of the Northrop Grumman APG-68 Agile Beam Radar. redesigned to UAE specifications that boosted interoperability with western equipment and therefore export prospects.

the GCC states are increasingly remedying their weaknesses in the fields of manpower management. Kuwait and the UAE have best capitalised on US and French assistance to increase the number of local groundcrew.UAEAFAD Mirage 2000s are equipped with advanced sensors and weaponry. . and US remains an indispensable part of air defence training. there are signs that the Gulf‟s largest aerospace spenders – Saudi Arabia and the UAE – are changing their practices. operating or on order in all GCC states. these states have begun to build significant joint venture. Furthermore. as is the UAE‟s Gulf Aircraft Maintenance Company. The Ali Salam Aircraft Company and Advanced Electronics Company are two Saudi Arabia examples of successful offset-driven joint ventures. Maintenance and operations support are finally receiving the recognition they deserve in GCC air forces. Significant efforts are being made to increase the number of indigenous groundcrew. locally based aerospace industry support facilities. and more frequent regional exercises are a sign that GCC states are individually determined to improve standards. and in particular drawing more support services in-country to reduce costs and disruption to fleet readiness. The GCC states collaborate effectively to facilitate training in the region. Kuwait and the UAE continue to utilise US training opportunities to generate a steady flow of pilots. Though training in the U. (Photo: Dassault Aerospace) A holistic focus on manpower and maintenance The more holistic focus on the human resources and technical support dimensions of air force design is also developing in the other GCC states. ranges.K. Though expensive foreign contractor support packages and overseas overhaul facilities remain the preferred options for GCC states.5:1 pilot to aircraft ratio. Dassault is due to set up a depot-level maintenance facility in the UAE. The danger of maintaining insufficient spares has been recognised since the Saudi air force ground to a halt in 2001. The BAe Hawk trainer series is the regional standard. and even training aircraft. dovetailing with increased maintenance capabilities of GCC states to improve readiness. Fleet rationalisation and retirement is assisting pilot to aircraft ratios. though only Bahrain has exceeded the comfortable minimum 1. including al-Hakim series of stand-off PGMs. Saudi Arabia remains woefully undermanned in groundcrew. Contrary to their traditional focus on airframe purchases. utilising Saudi airfields. with the integration of „train-as-you-fight‟ features such as distributed mission-training systems that use linked simulators to allow units to train together at lower costs. Bahrain. Increasing numbers of western exercises provide additional training opportunities. and indigenous maintenance capabilities. increasing numbers of modern new-build aircraft and weapons will decrease the maintenance burden. both Kuwait and the UAE have established air defence schools. In future. The sophistication of training is increasing. GCC pilots are flying around 130 hours per year or more. GCC aircrews are slowly increasing in number. training.

S. will not welcome the effective shuffling of its aid to fund European sales. and maritime patrol or airborne early warning aircraft. light fighter aircraft. from the outset. Perry-class frigate. with the average across the alliance being four. and the E-2C Hawkeye.S. including over 120 transport helicopters over 20 years old (average age 27) and 59 transport aircraft over 20 years old (average age 27). Sabha. however.S. or more modern C-130H. which are moving towards appropriate sizes for the tasks they undertake. whilst another would be IAR-330 Pumas reconditioned by Eurocopter Romania. In the majority of cases. Though the F-5E/F has allowed strong interoperability with Saudi Arabia. C-130B at no or low cost. Up to four more Block 50/52 may be purchased under the original approved limits of the Peace Crown agreements. there are still large numbers of ageing airframes in use in the Gulf. . As recently as 2000. weakness. sales of advanced versions of the type until the late 1980s and instead purchased the F-5E/F as a stopgap measure. Some GCC forces still field up to eight types of transport helicopter. The BAAF may also pursue no or low cost U.Future Projects More pragmatic threat and capability-driven procurement has led to rapid improvement in the quality of fleet management in GCC air and air defence forces. in the other cases. while the provision of training aircraft is a notable area of U.S. the BAAF will welcome the chance to standardise on the F-16 Block 50/52. leading to downsizing through the mothballing aircraft types. Bahrain may be offered ex-U. benefiting from miniaturised avionics and other advanced features. Despite this. As mentioned. Bahrain may purchase a Kaman SH-2G naval helicopter for its ex-U. Pilatus PC-9 turboprop primary trainers. All 22 Bahraini F-16s now operate at this standard following the application of Falcon Up and Pratt and Whitney Engine Up structural and engine overhauls. Bahrain may turn to BAe to build a package of training support. whilst.S. At the same time. Though Bahrain could still opt for ex-USAF inventory early block F16s. In the case of transport aircraft the lack of capability has been a conscious choice. that are creating regional standards such as the F-16 and the C-130 families. GCC air and air defence forces are only slowly homogenising and standardising their number of aircraft types.S.S. The Bahrain Amiri Air Force (BAAF) The BAAF has notable gaps in its inventory – dedicated training aircraft. The BAAF has. Funding remains a problem. increasing standardisation is slowly developing. particularly in transport helicopter and aircraft inventories. and Bahrain may go as far as ordering another eight models to form a third squadron to replace the F-5E/F unit. U. not expecting to be operating the types simultaneously. one or more maritime patrol or airborne early warning aircraft may be purchased. it is likely to purchase inventory or new-build Block 50/52 aircraft. fixed wing transport aircraft. indicating a strong market for replacements and upgrades. Bahrain has no turboprop trainers. tight funding has constrained procurement. a basic requirement for a modern air force. Bahrain originally intended for the F-16 to be its sole combat jet. is one example.S.the GCC preference for smaller. as the U. Recent procurement indicate a bias towards multi-role models that display the „design elasticity‟ to grow with their user‟s requirements . where roughly twenty medium transport helicopters have been in service for 20-25 years. performs a useful training role and has been upgraded to perform effectively in the optimised anti-surface role. and Hawk 100 lead-in flight trainers (for the F-16). this has meant rationalisation. Bahraini officers stated that the country had no requirement for a transport element. options to meet army demands to modernise its helicopter fleet. however. but could not secure U. this has involved expansions of fleets and the addition of new capabilities. Nor is it clear whether Bahrain will establish a small fixed-wing transport fleet. largely driven by increasing U. Across many fleets. and would benefit from retiring hard-to-maintain F-5F twin-seaters and removing the advanced training burden from Bahrain‟s four F-16D twin-seaters. Polyglot fleets are still the norm. surplus Sikorsky Blackhawks are one option. In the case of Saudi Arabia. been a believer in multi-role aircraft – through economic necessity as much as any operational reason – and the employment of optimised F-5E/F was not the preferred option of the organisation. sales. Compact geography and cost issues made case-by-case chartering (using Gulf-based Tiger Air) a more viable option.

Purchased as a stop-gap measure until rights for acquisition of F-16s could be secured. and the emirate is likely to insist that advanced features be incorporated into the package. upgraded all its major fleets of European helicopters.S.S. and Kuwait has previously successfully sold 23 A-4KU Skyhawks to the Brazillian Navy in 1998. lobbying and market advantages. Kuwait‟s experience of ordering a major $2 billion package of U. rather than the 35 originally conceived by U. (Photo: ACIG. New fighter purchases will create a requirement for dedicated jet trainers to meet the need for pilots. including the Raytheon AMRAAM and advanced air-to-ground munitions.S.org archives) Kuwait Air Force (KAF) The KAF order of battle presents an orderly picture that many GCC states. which have been upgraded and maintained by Dassault since they were retired from operational service. The most likely option remains a supplemental buy of Boeing F/A-18 aircraft. either modern C/D versions (up to $40 million per unit) or the advanced multi-role F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (between $50-80 million per unit). particularly if they offered substantially better technology transfer and offset programmes. meanwhile. This will necessitate a near-term purchase to supplement the F/A-18C/D force and provide it with a package of modern weapons systems. buy would need to overcome the negative cost issues associated with introducing a new type. The deal is likely to involve as little as 10-20 airframes (most likely one squadron of 1012). French defence maintenance company COFRAS carried out full airframe and engine rebuilds on the SA-432K Gazelle fleet.and support projects. Though modern by the KAF‟s standards. while Kuwait‟s ageing helicopters requires ongoing modernisation. This kind of deal was used to sweeten the UAE purchase of Mirage 2000-9 in 1998. and an EADS/Thales partnership will upgrade the SA-330/332 Puma and Super Puma fleets for $43 million. Either the $6070 million Dassault Rafale or the $35-60 million Mirage 2000 family could be chosen. the future of which remains unclear due to uncertainities regarding a number of training. Kuwait has. vendors. aircraft and weapons should stand it in good stead. including in-flight refuelling capability. Fighter. Cost could also be reduced if Dassault managed to facilitate buy-back of Kuwait‟s 13 Mirage F-1BK/CK aircraft.S. training. reflecting on their heterogeneous inventories. Kuwait may support new fighter deals with new purchases of BAe Hawk 100 trainers. the package of F/A-18C/D ordered by Kuwait in 1985 did not build in the longevity (or the quantity) required to keep Kuwaiti air forces competitive in the second decade of the 21st century. would consider idyllic. however. Maintaining the current level of homogeneity will reduce absorption and maintenance costs. as well as overcoming strong U. French alternatives to a U. the Northrop F-5Es still present one of two main assest of the Bahrain Amiri Air Force. there will always be more to do. For the most threatened frontline GCC state. Kuwait will also supplement its transport aircraft fleet with four Lockheed Martin C-130J aircraft ordered in . and transport fleets require upgrade and enlargement. Kuwait may link the sale to an upgrade package to bring the entire fleet up to the same standard.

and the RAFO will benefit from increased interoperability with U.3 upgrade programme completed between 1997-2001 was smoothly executed in partnership with the U. but the deal was frozen due to budget constraints.S.K. or the GKN Westland EH-101. and the UAE Following increasing mothballing of its ageing helicopter fleet.2 billion deal. the frontrunner remains an order of 15-18 BAe Hawk 100. Investing almost $400 million in one deal (plus a further $600 million in munitions and support services) was an unprecedented step for the RAFO. Oman appears to have already committed up to $600 million in the April 2001 order for up to 20 Agusta Westland Super Lynx naval attack helicopters (likely to cost $32 million per unit).S. utility helicopters. and AB-214 – will be retired. The state of the art Super Lynxes will strongly boost Omani antisubmarine and anti-surface vessel attack capabilities and two are likely to be mounted on the Royal Navy of Oman‟s two 83m corvettes. Kuwait could purchase up to four more aircraft. Oman will be operating 12 F-16C/D Block 50/52 multi-role aircraft and may order four more of the type to replace some of the capability lost when the Jaguar fleet retires. Oman took a long-term view when it ordered new build Block 50/52 models rather than refurbished ex-U. Qatar is more likely to homogenise and supplement its fixed wing and helicopter transport fleets. Through a mixture of well-timed upgrades of the capable Jaguar fleet and hard-nosed commitment to invest heavily in the F-16 Block 50/52. particularly considering the non-contiguous and expansive nature of Oman‟s geography. moving to a two type fleet (with the BAe Hawk). as experience has shown that the type can require up to $6 million worth of refurbishment per airframe (a factor that dissuaded the UAE from purchasing reconditioned Alpha Jets). Air Force Block 10/15 models as some industry analysts predicted. The 20 upgraded Jaguars will remain in service until around 2008 and could serve for even longer. Jordan. Oman also has an urgent need to upgrade or modernise its fixed-wing transport aircraft fleet. At least three types – the AB-205. Oman will end the current decade with modern and capable fast jet forces. involving a complicated swap that took Qatar‟s existing Mirage F-1 EDA fleet to Spain. and 30 new airframes ordered. as well as a lower maintenance burden.December 1999 for $200 million. Ten further helicopters may be purchased using funding of $250 million. Through new purchases and upgrades. In the near-term. AB-212. Up to three of Kuwait‟s fleet may be converted or delivered as KC-130J tanker variants. If funding can be released. Oman is likely to invest heavily in homogenising its rotary forces in the current five-year plan. forces as well as F16 users like Bahrain. but is likely to represent a saving when viewed in terms of total life-cycle costing. The product was a highly sophisticated day/night ground attack aircraft capable of carrying a wide range of precision-guided munitions. and the emirate is likely to replace its six ageing Alpha Jets with another combat-capable trainer that could support ground forces in time of war. however. reducing the number of turboprop trainers. Deliveries of aircraft and associated weaponry were completed between 1997-99. which were selected in 1996 as part of a broader $825 million deal. Oman is likely to emerge from the current five-year plan with a smaller but more modern and maintainable fleet with improved capabilities. ***imag4e:center*** Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) The RAFO needs to implement a long overdue fleet rationalisation programme. and transport aircraft in operation. Qatar has an urgent requirement for at least two fixed wing medium military transport aircraft. the Sikorsky S-70L Blackhawk. Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) The small QEAF inventory includes a number of ageing aircraft types and is in need of homogenisation. The aircraft swap netted Qatar $130 million. Contenders include the Eurocopter AS-532 Cougar. which was subtracted from the $1.‟s RAF and Hunting Aviation. The $1. At least three C-130J aircraft are likely to be ordered in the 2001-2005 period to reduce strain on the existing fleet of 3 C-130H and 8 Shorts Skyvan. Qatar . The purchase of 12 Dassault Mirage 2000-5 combat aircraft (including nine EDA multi-role and three DDA trainer versions) provided the QEAF with a core multi-role air combat capability. The $65 million Jaguar 97/GR. Twelve fixed wing combat aircraft is insufficient.2 billion deal propelled Qatar to become the world‟s highest per capita defence spender of the late 1990s. Qatar is unlikely to upgrade these jets. via an upgrade programme at Dassault facilities in France. The F-16 was designed to grow with the requirements of the air forces using it. even for a state of Qatar‟s size. By that time.

. Acquisition of 12 Dassault Mirage 2000-5 multi-role fighters propolled the small Qatar Emiri Air Force into the front-line between Gulf air forces when it comes to combat capability: these aircraft are not only modern. The extreme ranges from which Saudi aircraft must fly to reach the heartlands of Iran or Iraq. Yemeni. Saudi Arabia continues to operate 75 transport and utility helicopters that are between 22-35 years old. Reducing the maintenance burden of operational fleets is a further core concern. (Photo: ACIG. however. Saudi Arabia has already given some indications as to its procurement strategy. Minister of Defence and Aviation Prince Sultan noted in June 2001 that the F-5E/F were „still good and useful‟ but would be replaced if Saudi had the opportunity. AB-206.org archives) Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) Saudi Arabia is an excellent illustration of the complex range of choices facing the Southern Gulf states as they are forced to rationalise their aircraft fleets. the Kingdom must rationalise its fleet management. Saudi Arabia may have taken steps to replace its ageing AB-212. Saudi Arabia has prudently built its transport and trainer fleets around single types and has provided funding to keep up numbers of new aircraft of these types. The RSAF is likely to replace and augment its C130 fleet with up to 70 new build C-130J aircraft in the near-term. In Feb 2001. In the meantime. The F-5E/F. in 1991. forcing consideration of the retention of optimised air superiority aircraft. The threat profile facing Saudi complicates the process. upgraded Westland Commandos will continue to serve in the transport and naval attack role. The following table categorises the key systems in the RSAF fleet in fleet management terms. and eventually reconstituted post-Baathist Iraqi air-to-air capabilities are going to increase significantly in the mid-term. Another ten KC-130H tankers may also be added. indicating the need for ongoing fleet replacements and upgrades. often attached to the Royal Flight or the Saudi Armed Forces medical Service. but also flown by pilots with considerable combat experiences from the war with Iraq. or indeed trouble spots on the Saudi borders. and Bell 205 helicopters in the near future. Saudi Arabia announced the purchase of 16 new transport aircraft from Finmechannica SpA subsidiary Agusta and Bell Helicopters for $150m. leaving Saudi Arabia with a capability shortfall – close air support – that would not be easy to reconstitute in time of war. means that long-range remains a key consideration in force planning. It does not include the many small inventories of aircraft that exist within the RSAF and other services. Nonetheless. The RSAF faces the probability that Iranian. have now fallen into a training role. or well-equipped. In the field of combat aircraft. with the S-70L Blackhawk identified as a likely contender. though not completely mothballed as some reports suggest.also requires up to 10 medium transport helicopters that can be armed for close air support missions.

dedicated subsonic attack aircraft may have passed. dipping into the market in the latter part of the decade when many older Saudi F-15 reach the end of their lifespans. and the 250-300km Matra B. A more distant future procurement decision – which will need to be taken in the 2005-2010 timeframe – concerns whether an optimised air superiority fighter is needed to replace the F-15C/D fleet. Saudi is unlikely to order close air support versions of the BAe Hawks. Congressional blessing for structural strengthening upgrades to extend the lifespan of the type. These aircraft are believed to be in saleable condition having received regular $50 million Northrop Grumman maintenance inputs every two years until they reduced operations in 1997. until sufficient pilots can be trained. the aircraft is so prolific across the Middle East that Saudi will find a large market for operational F-5 airframes and spare parts carcasses. the higher initial costs of absorbing a new type may cancel out prospective savings.S. and therefore greater payloads at increased ranges. The air-to-ground versions of the F-15S and the Tornado fleet will adequately provide the long-range strike and reconnaissance requirements of the RSAF. Thus. Boeing are keen to keep the F-15 production lines open and is believed to be offering new build F-15s at discount rates. which can take advantage of increasing miniaturisation of electronics and weaponry to carry advanced electronic warfare suites. Dassault Rafale. Dynamics Storm Shadow missile. The Tornado IDS fleet is receiving upgrades through 2006. as the day of the small. increasingly few countries are willing to invest in technology that Northrop Grumman itself no longer produces. with the RSAF focused on consolidating its manpower and training (plus maintenance) in the near-term. Riyadh attempted to sell F-5 to Brazil – another user who have maintained and upgraded the capability of their fleet – but asked too high a price in a marketplace where the cost of advanced inventory aircraft (such as earlier Block 10/15 Lockheed Martin F-16) is rapidly dropping. whilst an F-5 sale could go ahead with Saudi. Twenty-seven mission planning systems for the RF-5E were purchased from U. Minister of Defence and Aviation Prince Sultan is believed to be strongly behind a near-term F-16 purchase. Though the maintenance-heavy F-5 is unlikely to be bought by countries not presently using the type.4 million Northrop Grumman deal in 1997.Nine reconnaissance version RF-5E aircraft are likely to be kept in operation. Furthermore.S. Speculation instead focuses on two other capability areas that will require procurement decisions within the next 2-8 years. and options include not replacing the F-5E/F at all or replacing the type with a smaller number of expensive F-15S. Tornado IDS and F-15S could carry out this role. though both countries are reported to be haggling with Lockheed Martin over F-16 buys. bringing with them the advantage of improved standardisation in the polyglot RSAF Though a longer-term perspective suggests that the maintenance costs of large and complex aircraft like the Tornado and F-15 make near-term replacement with a new medium or light multi-role aircraft more palatable. This will greatly . arguing against an expansion of platform numbers. in addition to converted Tornado ADV. Saudi Arabia does make a new purchase. firm Sanders Corporation in 1995. conformal fuel tanks. currently operating 39 and 15 F-5 respectively. on the other hand. they may not offer significantly better performance than new generation light fighters such as the F-16. precipitated by the retirement of the F-5E/F fleet. both in terms of capability and the spiralling costs of such aircraft relative to high-performance and low cost surplus F-16s. having been upgraded and installed with Global Positioning System navigation in a $7. Eurofighter Typhoon. Indications suggest the Tornado ADV aircraft may be converted for the strike and reconnaissance role. while Crown Prince Abdullah opposes near-term fleet replacement. If. Saab Gripen JAS-39X. or Dassault Mirage 2000. with a small number of the 35 F-5B/F trainers continuing to fly and up to 53 F-5E ground attack aircraft in storage. aimed at pushing back the type‟s out-of-service data to 2020. Morocco and Tunisia represent the next best options. is the requirement for an inexpensive and highly survivable aircraft capable of carrying out the ground attack role. The GR. The rest of the F-5 community appear to have been phased out of operation. Whilst medium multi-role aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter. a number of systems would meet RSAF requirements. Saudi Arabia may skip a generation of aircraft procurement. and Boeing‟s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet meet the preferences of Saudi aircrew for larger or multi-engined aircraft. the retirement of the F-5E/F represents a boon for operational readiness.A. According to Saudi fast jet pilots.e. The first. Alenia Marconi Systems Brimstone anti-armour weapons.4 MLU-1 upgrade with make Saudi Tornadoes capable of employing Paveway III GPSguided munitions. in-flight refuelling probes. and Saudi has U. This obviates the need to maintain separate types for long-range strike and short-range close air support. It is quite possible that.

with reports suggesting that 30 Mangusta A-129 or Westland Lynx may be purchased. at relatively long ranges (700km) much faster and therefore with less exposure that helicopters could. The UAE may also invest in refuelling aircraft in order to boost the endurance or range of its Mirage 2000-9 and F-16 aircraft. United Arab Emirates Air Force and Air Defence (UAEAFAD) Though the UAE has spent $9. where over half of the fleet are more than twenty years old. The UAE has been linked to a possible purchase of three Boeing 767 tanker/transport aircraft (Italy purchased four similar aircraft for $700 million).depend on how the air-to-air capabilities of regional rivals increase. If Israel receives significant numbers of the Lockheed Martin F-22. . In 1997 it was announced that a further 12 advanced jet trainers may be required. involving $125 million reconditioning of 25 engines and installation of glass cockpits at Eurocopter Romania. In January 2000. imposing a highly damaging financial burden on Saudi defence spending. and China. The UAE is also looking beyond the current generation of trainers into the field of advanced next generation jet trainers and light combat aircraft.S. Though the northern Gulf States present the more explicit threat to Saudi Arabia. between 2001-04. In the mid-term.5 billion on the F-16 – there are still a number of significant peripheral capabilities that the UAE must develop during this decade. either by upgrading its C-130H fleet or by buying new or inventory CN-235 or C-130. standardising on existing types. Standardisation is also required across the transport helicopter fleet. At around $40 million each. defence establishment has identified the UAE as a possible export customer for the Boeing MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. The UAE is likely to improve its transport aircraft fleet. Upgrades for UAE Super Pumas were purchased in November 2001. Attempts to supply 30 German Alpha Jets to the UAE in October 1999 were frustrated by the very high refurbishment costs required – though each jet would have reportedly only cost $1 million.150km with significant ordnance loads. 61 trainers. The development of a next generation trainer could represent a significant technology and expertise transfer to the UAE that would assist in its indigenous maintenance and support industry. a hopeful U. which is planned to move into advanced development in 2007-10. The UAE previously expressed interest in the Karakoram K-8. Saudis may follow suit. and Dubai is also known to be interested in replacing its aged Hawk Mk. Pakistan. Alternatively. and allow F-16 escorted UAE Mirages to move within striking range of Tehran (using stand-off airlaunched cruise missiles).S. placing a heavy burden on existing trainer aircraft. This would allow UAE F-16 to strike out to ranges of 1. a willingness to enter into collaborative development. signalling UAE interest in influencing and sponsoring the collaborative development of the DASA AT-2000 (or MAKO) project. the UAE could purchase ex-U. while other reports suggest 40 Agusta AB-412HP Griffins and 10 further IAR 330L Pumas. however. The Vikings would also be able to act as maritime patrol aircraft and carry out anti-submarine and anti-shipping attacks. Further Westland AS-532 Cougar sales may also be on the cards. the Kingdom has a habit of mirroring Israeli procurement practices in the air superiority sphere. Navy Viking S-3 aircraft and employ them as small airborne tankers.$3. the UAE will think carefully about investing in this unproven and trouble stricken project. The latter feature stems from the threat profile facing the UAE – Iran‟s growing military prowess. each required up to $6 million of reconditioning. including troops. the UAE signed two Memorandum of Understanding with DASA. which would provide a combination of helicopter and transport aircraft capabilities that the UAE might find attractive. Ongoing speculation surrounds potential purchases of trainer aircraft by the UAE The UAEAFAD needs pilots quickly.9 billion on advanced combat aircraft . The purchase of new jet trainer looks likely to involve the procurement of up to 12 further Hawks and the upgrade of the remainder of the fleet to a common standard. The aircraft is able to deliver medium loads. a trainer jointly developed by Egypt. and a preference for top-grade equipment are the hallmarks of UAE aerospace procurement policy.4 billion on the Mirage 2000-9 series and $6. Strong budgetary support. Speculation concerning large helicopter fleet purchases identifies a wide range of potential purchases.

is a "custom" variant. These are to become the main means of close air support for the UAE armed forces in the next 20 years.9 were spent on acquisition of advanced combat aircraft. developed to UAE specifications. but is heavily involved in sponsoring development of new aircraft: the F-16F depicted here.The biggest "spender" when it comes to the defence in the last ten years was definitely the UAE.org archives) . (Photo: ACIG. For the future the UAEAFAD is not satisfied only with purchasing available equipment. (Photo: Lockheed-Martin) One of the most recent acquisitions by UAEAFAD is a batch of AH-64 Apache helicopters. No less but $9.

eventually causing a logistical nightmare.Mk.ruled by the al-Sabbath family. armoured cars. organized as a brigade group with 50 Indian-built Vijayanta medium tanks. the existence of which was threatened ever since it was created as a selfruled area. with a population of some 1. In the years afterwards. Emir Abdullah al-Sabbath immediately appealed to the British. The situation changed in the 1980s. the Kuwait‟s armed forces consisted of an army of about 4. the British were initially foremost interested in developing the Kuwait Air Force (KAF). The government of Kuwait attempted to show the Arab world that this wealth was not to be considered a threat. Kuwaitis mainly profited from immense oil wealth. in late 1968 a contract was signed with BAC for the purchase of 12 Strikemaster Mk. In the early 1920s Kuwait was given the status of an independent sheikdom – Dawlat alKuwait (State of Kuwait) .became foremost known as an oil-rich nation at a strategically important position. The lack of experience among Kuwaiti pilots proved to be a handicap in the use of sophisticated Lightnings and so several additional deals had to be concluded. they were not to become fully operational for years.6 million . all of which were to support the purchase of Lightnings. This ended by the British and the USA almost forcing Kuwait – and Saudi Arabia – to buy BAC Lightning F. Driven by their own experiences in the area.000 square kilometres. that should give the Kuwaitis better initial training.57s were delivered. several former British MoD officers were contracted to organize a company which would organize and supervise the training of Saudi and Kuwaiti pilots and ground personnel: this company.53 interceptors. Jordan and Syria during the 1967 War with Israel.205 helicopters). that governs it until today. and the sale of Lightnings was to ascertain the funding for this project.Mk. Iraq and Iran.55 trainers. they were slowly but methodically organized and trained by the British. Its foreign affairs were handled by the British until 1961. organized into one fighter-bomber squadron (equipped with Hunters and Lightnings). in 1969 a total of eleven Hawker Hunter F. however. and four Westland Whirlwind helicopters – all of which were flown by British pilots. This was originally equipped with six Jet Provost T. the KAF counted 900 men. as well as subsequent landings of British troops in Kuwait City have prevented any further Iraqi moves. Eventually. a battery of 25pdr howitzers. particularly after disastrous defeat of Egypt. The rapid deployment of combat aircraft of the RAF and one aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy. By 1970. Large proportions of oil revenues went to the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and Kuwait has been a principal source of funds for the Arab League. One week after the formal termination of this arrangement (through a treaty that recognized Kuwait‟s full independence) Iraq unilaterally announced that Kuwait was to be considered Iraqi territory.51s. and already by 1970 there were complaints that the UK never earned even a Pound Sterling from the whole sale of the Lightnings. For example. who remained influential well into the 1970s.500 men. 12 Lightning F. Armed Forces Kuwaiti armed forces were created in reaction to Iraqi threat from 1961. and a support squadron (with six BAC Strikemasters. 1990 Existing in the shadow of powerful states of Saudi Arabia. two Lockheed C-130 Hercules transports. was paid by the British government.a country of mere 14. when the government introduced a number of modernization projects.Mk. all of which remained very limited in nature and were based on procurement of cheap hardware from a multitude of sources. After an initial cadre of native pilots was trained.53s were purchased. however. pending the Kuwaiti search for more advanced aircraft. . At the time.83s. together with two T. Kuwait . Also. two Whirlwind and six Agusta-Bell AB.Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait. The northern part of the Persian Gulf was under nominal control of the Ottoman Empire until the end of the World War I. and Vigilant antitank guided missiles. even if these have not been exactly what either customer needed: the British were interested in purchasing 50 General Dynamics F-111 fighter-bombers from the USA.Mk. who had promised military aid in the case of emergency. Initially. as all the profit was spent for secondary projects needed to make the type operational in the two Gulf air forces.

The Lightnings were acquired by the KAF in a controversial deal. During the 1980s the whole fleet was upgraded to the F.1CK "714". the first batch.1CK and two (two-seat) Mirage F. in March 1974.1BKs. and serialled 771 and 772. some help from the British instructors was always needed. an order for 30 McDonnell Douglas A-4KU Skyhawks and MIM-23 HAWK SAMs was issued to Pentagon."415" was one of the two retired KAF Lightnings that survived not only the years of service with the KAF in the 1970s. (KAF) Kuwait‟s relations with Iraq remained tense and in March 1973 Baghdad tried to force Kuwait to concede area opposite to the then newly built naval base at Omm ol-Qasr. and on 20 January 1975 McDonnell Douglas was authorized to launch production of . and it seems the Kuwaitis never managed to make them fully operational alone: although using them well into the 1980s. The accompanying two-seaters were designated Mirage F. (Artwork by Tom Cooper) Meanwhile. in early 1974. All were very potent interceptors for their time. KAF Mirage F. replaced by Matra R.550 Magic missiles.1EQs of the neighbouring Iraq. The main equipment of new interceptors were AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles of US-production.550 Magic Mk.1BK. Mirage F. as well as 24 SA. which added the Super 530F capability. As first.342L/K Gazelle in France. the Kuwaitis ordered 18 Dassault Mirage F. and the examples surviving the Iraqi invasion in 1990 were once again upgraded. serialed 701 thru 718.Is in the early 1980s.1CKs were equipped with the “basic” Cyrano-IV radar. Brief border skirmishes demonstrated the need for a well equipped Kuwaiti Air Force and the Emir immediately launched a comprehensive reequipment programme. this time with Super 530D capability. equipped with Matra R. without any more sophisticated additions later introduced on F. in January/February 1991. was delivered between 1977 and 1979. some of which have had the ability to fire HOT anti-tank missiles.530 and R.1CK-2 standard. As delivered to Kuwait. but also the Iraqi invasion and then the whole II Persian Gulf War.

From 1987. Kuwait intended to sell them to a third party. Germany. with Kuwaitis selecting Russian BMP-2s infantry-fighting vehicles and Yugoslav M-84 MBTs. they served with two squadrons. wile the Land Forces were little more but a “speed-bumper” for any potential invaders. The first of newly-ordered vehicles were about to arrive in the autumn of 1990. (artwork by Tom Cooper) Once all the Mirages and Skyhawks were delivered. 344 AGM-65G Mavericks and 40 AGM-84D Harpoon anti-ship missiles. and eight F/A18Ds two seaters. to act as basic and advanced trainers. the first out of 12 Hawks arrived. Despite its official "pro-pan-Arab" stance. Kuwait placed its order for Skyhawks in late 1974. Their original serials should have been in the range 500-530. it was expected that the help from abroad would arrive. Originally. equipped with Exocet anti-ship missiles.1BK-2s. France. with a larger cockpit hood and a squared-off fin-tip. the type was held in service and both squadrons moved to the newly-built Ahmad al-Jabar AB. as well as relatively sizeable foreign liaison teams to be . and similar to the A-4M Skyhawk II standard as delivered to the USMC at the time. The two-seat TA-4KUs were powered by the same engine. After some negotiations with the USA. and this cooperation resulted in an order for 32 McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet single-seaters. in 1983. the Kuwaiti Land Forces were still generally equipped and trained by the British. the USA were to deliver 120 AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. Afterwards. and initially saw not much use: in fact. had the same payload capability and have also kept all the other elements of the A-4KUs. powered by the powerful P&W J-52-P-408 engine. As of 1989.64s from the UK. Two years later.these aircraft for Kuwait.Mk. however. and instead ordered 12 Hawk T. in the same year. the air force was considered the only serious mean of defence for the small country. however. in the same year Kuwait also turned down an Egyptian offer for purchasing Alpha Jets assembled in Egypt under license. including the dorsal avionics hump behind the cockpit. the KAF issued an order for 13 additional Mirage F. and Yugoslavia. The aircraft were all newly-built and delivered via the UK in 1977 and 1978. By the time. or equipment needed for delivery of nuclear weapons. the Kuwaiti A-4KUs should have been painted in the camouflage pattern shown here. Together with selection of a number of other systems from the USA. UK. Most of the new aircraft and helicopters for KAF were delivered between 1976 and 1978. designed to hold an eventual aggression for few days. Intended to provide a measure of strike capability against the permanent threat from Iraq. the KAF was best equipped of all military branches – and this for several reasons: the ruling alSabah family always counted on help and support from one of superpowers and therefore only a small and relatively poorly trained army (this was also a precaution against a possible disloyalty of its armed forces). which should have been a mix of sand and Dark Olive Green. ordering a total of 30 A-4KUs and six TA-4KUs (the first of which flew on 14 December 1976). the small size of the Kuwaiti armed forces created a logistical nightmare and required a considerable number of foreign instructors. but a modest modernisation program was launched in 1988. together with orders for six AS.332F Super Puma helicopters. when production of first Hornets for Kuwait was about to be finalized.52s in the UK.1CK-2s and four Mirage F. Kuwait was increasingly associated with the USA for its defence needs. All A-4KUs were to be newly-built. by 1984 their utilisation was so low. by which time the crews for them were trained in Kuwait by French and Pakistani instructors. but without any classified electronic equipment or provision for AGM-45 Shrike and AGM-62 Walleye missiles.Mk. Together with Hornets. while the KAF issued an order for 12 Shorts Tucano T.

the Kuwaitis never took such behaviour or Iraqi threats seriously enough. thus effectively cutting off the Iraqi entrance into the Persian Gulf. Needless to say. . and at least once on Kuwaiti air bases after experiencing problems during their in-flight-refuelling operations deep over the Persian Gulf. the oil refinery at Umm Aayash was hit in another raid by Iranian Phantoms.e. and every now and then the crews of the Iraqi helicopters operating over the Bubiyan Island when asked about flying inside the Kuwaiti airspace would explain to foreign reporters that this was "their" (i.all executed by the F-4E Phantoms of the TFB.and if the Iraqi fighters were not armed any more.stationed in Kuwait. Kuwait and the I Persian Gulf War As a monarchy with a large minority of Shi'a sect. which was focusing on logistical support. by three Phantoms. in retaliation for alleged Kuwaiti involvement in the Iraqi military effort.saw repeated use of the AGM-65A Maverick air-to-ground missiles. which . which captured the Faw Peninsula. In the following months and years Tehran repeatedly warned that it would "take appropriate action" against any regional state that backed Baghdad actively.e. the Iranian pilots would first thunder low over the Kuwaiti posts. Iraqi) airspace. while the Kuwaiti air defences were not active at all. stationed in Bushehr . understood the importance of Kuwaiti support (mainly financial) for the Iraqi war effort. but also in the face of Iraq.never changed its stance towards Kuwait: Baghdad still considered the small country as a part of Iraq. These were supported by a small team of the United States Liaison Office Kuwait (USLOK).or any civilians . Besides. In at least two cases. Iran launched air raids on Kuwaiti border posts on 12 and 16 November 1980. The situation of Kuwait was clear now. within the small Kuwait Land Forces. obviously not carrying about their fuel consumption. and the country had to pay a price. but also to land and refuel in the case of emergency . if it persisted in sit policy of allowing Iraq to use its airspace. Iraqi fighters landed in Dhahran (Saudi Arabia). In autumn 1981. but both the Kuwaitis and the Iranians knew very well who flew this attack and why.6. airfields and highways. turn towards west . In response. and then rocket and strafe buildings. in September 1980. which early after the Iraqi invasion. Both the Iraqis and the Kuwaitis later claimed to have shot down one of the attackers each.foremost Kuwait and Saudi Arabia which permitted them the use of airspace along the western coast of the Persian Gulf for attacks against Iran.away. The third such attack was flown in April 1981. the Iraqis signed a contract with several other Gulf states . on 1 October 1981. and almost cutting off the southernmost Iraqi communications with Kuwait. so to scare the officers working there . this contract saved lives of dozens of Iraqi pilots. In 1986. and were taken by surprise. ports. all IrAF pilots operating in the area have had Bubiyan marked as Iraqi soil on their tactical charts. the Kuwaitis were not to change their politics despite such direct Iranian warnings. Believing all the differences could be solved by other – foremost monetary – means.instead towards north (i. Though Tehran denied responsibility. the Kuwaitis counted that such help and support for the Iraqi war effort secured them not only against Iran. the Kuwaitis increased their support for Iraq. back towards Iraq) and try to disappear flying at max speed and lowest possible level. Kuwait was particularly susceptible to threats from Iran. However. This contract not only permitted armed Iraqi fighters to fly inside the foreign airspace while underway to attack Iranian oil installations. Theoretically. Nevertheless.despite the long and bloody war against Iran . but in fact not a single bullet was fired against the Iranians: the Iraqi air defences were foremost concentrated in the area between al-Faw and Basrah. to show that it meant business. periodically. The attacks . and the Iraqi attack against Kuwait surprised quite a few observers and involved parties. and the Iranian interceptor-pilots which were hunting them over the Gulf soon enough noticed a particularly strange behaviour of the Iraqi pilots once they would be caught by the Iranian Phantoms and Tomcats: the Iraqis would jettison their ammunition. however. especially in the wake of the Iranian offensives in 1986 and 1987. it was not only so that the Saudi-based US AWACS tracked the attacking planes from their base in Bushehr. consisting of three mechanized brigades (including 24th and 35th). Indeed. they granted another interest-free loan of $2 billion to Iraq. Usually. and "that one day it would be turn on "them" (the Kuwaitis) as well".

Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) responded that they would lower their oil output. “complete parasites” and “nepotists”. and Qatar. Gulf revenues were depressed as a result of an oil glut on the spot market in the late 1980s. Kuwait. attacks on the USA and Israel. US intelligence learned about Iraq building permanent missile launching sites in the west of the country.KAF Mirage F. Kuwait. Described in the Arab world (but also outside) as “degenerates”. already on 2 April. and proved excellent during the short war. and the fourth was Kuwaiti overproduction of oil. in late May 1990. and used by Iraq. secular state. Kuwaitis were incredibly rich and have had huge investments abroad: access to this wealth could resolve Iraq‟s financial problems. and some of the highest standards of living and literacy rates in the Arab world. facing Israel. Iraqis have had at least five reasons for their behaviour towards the smaller neighbour: Iraq could not repay about $80 billion that had been borrowed to finance the war with Iran. by comparison to feudal Kuwait. and equating them with an act of war against Iraq. and Israel. the Kuwaiti royals ran their country as their private enterprise.2s in KAF depots. while blaming Kuwaiti and Saudi greed for oil. the Iraqi President Saddam Hussayin demanded US warships to leave the Persian Gulf: this demand passed almost unobserved in the West. the Iraqi President furthermore called for the liberation of Jerusalem. In February 1990. if it tries to do anything against Iraq. held in Baghdad.” During the Arab Leage Summit. which was introduced in service only in the late 1980s. The Mirage F. Even more so. arguably. when the regime in Baghdad issued a number of statements towards Western powers. the Iraqis were swift to take Mirage F. there was a considerable alarm within the USAF when a report became known that the Iraqis have captured 50 R. this war was in Kuwaiti and Saudi interests. and demanded $27 billion from Kuwait. the KAF was swift to equip its Mirages with the Matra R.1CKs and F. with most advanced status of women in the region and extensive religious freedoms. Before the Iraqi invasion. An additional justification for an Iraqi military action was the fact that the Emir of Kuwait and the whole royal family were immensely unpopular – outright hated – among Arabs and Moslems. Most of Iraqi threats were targeting Kuwait. its Arab neighbours. we will make the fire eat up half of Israel.1CK-2 "722" seen sometimes in the 1980s.2. and it was soon obvious that some kind of an armed conflict had to occur.550 Mk. Without surprise. Saddam Hussayin announced that Iraq was in possession of binary chemical weapons and that. forcing Iraq to threaten with the use of force as retribution for Kuwaiti overproduction and underpricing. (KAF) The Kuwait Business Tensions between Iraq and Kuwait began to increase already in 1989. which was all too busy with the developments in the Europe and dissolution of the USSR: subsequent Iraqi actions did not. but – in essence – all the corresponding Iraqi demands were in vain: Arab countries continued producing more oil than assigned to them by the . thus providing economic and emotional justification for an Iraqi attack.1 was one of the most widespread interceptors in the air forces of the Persian Gulf of the time. Kuwait decided to not forgive Iraq‟s $65 billion debt. Namely. Without surprise. by March 1990. “By God.550 Mk. which lay in disputed border territory. Almost like in reaction to this finding. The third reason was alleged Kuwaiti oil drilling in the Rumaylah oilfield. Iraq was a modern. While.1BKs they found in Kuwait and integrate them into their air force. high rates of economic growth. owners of a harem and slaves.

on the evening of 1 August 1990. by pumping bellow the border from Iraqi soil. Besides. Therefore. In the following days. that this is forcing Iraq to retrieve. "updated" on the basis of the lessons from the last 18 months of the war against Iran. as well as more advanced chemical weapons. With more readiness for negotiations. demanding the return of the Rumailah oilfield and $2. they planned to deploy command units into Kuwait City. the Arab League Secretary General. and demanding arbitration by the Arab League. In response. in order to be able to replace it legally by a body that would support the Iraqi cause. which was interested in obtaining better control over additional oil resources – as well as the USA. Tariq Aziz. One of crucial moments occurred on 25 July. while another two would execute an enveloping manoeuvre and cut off communications between Kuwait City and the Saudi border. four Iraqi Republican Guards divisions would drive deep into Kuwait: two were to occupy the capital. The few public statements issued after 24 July 1994. and would not change this decision even after the last round of negotiations between Iraq and Kuwait failed. held in June 1990. and the Administration of the US President Bush launched a “policy review” of Iraq after evidence was offered that Baghdad was accelerating efforts to build nuclear. With a whole Iraqi Republican Guards 1st Hammurabi Armoured Division – a total of some 10. Glaspie. and despite Iraqis meanwhile concentrating 100. the US Administration maintained a public silence. when during a meeting between Saddam and the US Ambassador in Iraq. in Kuwait City. as well as in spite of warnings from own intelligence services and the Saudis about an Iraqi attack being imminent. The result was that the Iraqi economy experienced increasing problems while attempting to recover from the long war with Iran. Without surprise. The Iraqis attempted to made the least use of force possible: instead of starting their invasion by powerful air strikes and artillery bombardments their military could mount. Simultaneously.with one exception: no chemical warheads were to be used. Thus. What followed. The Kuwaiti cabined rejected all these claims. highprofile military demonstrations. to send a letter to Chedli Klibin. Iraqi and Kuwaiti Planning The Iraqi plan for the operation against Kuwait was actually based on the combination of old British plans from the 1950s. but most of the countries failed to observe the OPEC quota agreement. as well as that he wants better relations with Washington. the development was playing in hands of the regime in Baghdad. in fact stressed time and again that the USA have no defence treaties or special defence or security commitments with Kuwait. interested in obtaining the Saudi permission to base their troops in that kingdom already since the times of the World War II. resulted in no agreement. all OPEC members agreed to cut production and increase prices. causing the Iraqi Foreign Minister. With hindsight. By mid-July 1990. after the first counter-air strike . instead of issuing a clear warning to Iraq to stay out of Kuwait. This surplus oil was keeping the oil price low and indeed causing damage to the Iraqi economy. The first round of talks between Iraq and Kuwait.4 billion compensation.000 troops with 350 T-72 tanks .OPEC. Kuwait placed its armed forces on alert. accusing Kuwait of stealing oil from the Rumailah oilfield and adopting a policy of harming Iraq and conspiring with the UAE to glut the world oil market. Glaspie stated that the USA had “no opinion” on disputes between Arab nations. Aziz openly attacked Kuwait for “direct aggression” and “refusal to honour oil production reductions”. due to the Emir of Kuwait failing to consent to faceto-face peace talks. thus lowering the price. “stolen funds and recover territories”. and six US Navy warship in the Persian Gulf were moved into the northern Persian Gulf. the situation was reaching the boiling point. but neither Kuwait nor Iraq were ready to give up. the US government publicly sent the USS Independence carrier battle group away from the Persian Gulf. instead accusing Iraq of violating Kuwaiti territory. the Iraqi President stated that he will not use force against Kuwait.000 troops and over 1. an armed conflict could have been averted already at the time.massed on the Kuwaiti border and a second division being in the process of getting there. and backing this with serious. The following month. with the task of capturing the royal family. However. while Washington declared that the US commitment to protect Kuwait remains in force. The Iraqis misunderstood this quiet stance as a sign that the Americans would not oppose an invasion of Kuwait. preferring Arab League mediation. with various new elements . even if the use of chemical weapons was a standard part of Iraqi tactical doctrine already since the late 1987. and through the summer the concentration of Iraqi ground forces along the mutual border continued increasing. while Saddam Hussayin then threatened military action against the neighbour. it should be mentioned that Iraqi accusations of Kuwait were reasonable: Kuwait was stealing Iraqi oil and selling it at low prices. was extremely unusual: while at previous times Kuwait was often described as “vital for national security of the United States”. the Iraqi leadership understood the importance of capturing the Kuwaiti government.000 tanks on the border to Kuwait. Aziz specified.

330H Puma and SA. some 50km due south.1BK at Ali al-Salem Sabah AB No. as well as a squadron of Bell 412STs. 45km south-west of Basrah. these were to play an important role – through heliborne deployment. By 1990. . they were to attack from north-west.The Iraqis also deployed RGFC and Army commando units in equivalent of a full division for this operation. The IrAF has had at least two squadrons of Sukhoi Su-22 and one of Mirage F. connecting Basrah and Kuwait City. equipped with a total of some 350 T-72 MBTs and 100 BMP-2 APCs) and 6th Nebuchadnezzar Motorized Infantry Division (with 19th and 22nd Motorized Infantry Brigades.33 Sqn: SA.12 Sqn: 12 Hawk T. the KAF was already a well-developed air force. In addition. thus cutting off all land connections between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. charge towards south and then east. with the task of capturing the royal family. peacetime conditions. While tensions were increasing already since months. the Iraqis planned to deploy commando units into Kuwait City. based in the west of the country. the Westinghouse Company was contracted to operate a radar observation balloon. which was positioned south of the Iraqi border: it was its crew this aerostat radar . and 15th Mechanized Infantry Brigade. they were ordered to stand down. As of 1 August 1990.1EQ fighter-bombers at asShoibiyah AB (former RAF Shaybah). across the Wadi al-Batin. and thus relatively far away from Kuwait. there were no serious plans for defence at all. . equipped with powerful stand-off communications. both the KAF and the Land Forces were operating under routine. and two squadrons of MiG-23BN deployed at Ali Ibn Abu Talib AB (better known in the West as “Tallil”). For this operation. the Emir of Kuwait issued no orders or prepared plans for defence of the country and only usual patrols were assigned to border areas. and 14th Mechanized Brigade.330F Super Puma at Ali al-Salem Sabah AB The Kuwaiti Land Forces consisted on three brigades. several units of Mi-8 and Mi-17 transport helicopters. small detachments were deployed along the border. pending the hottest times of the year.61 Sqn: 12 Mirage F. when most of people in Kuwait attempt not to work. also equipped with Chieftains. were deployed north of Kuwait. As already mentioned. including the 15th Mechanized Brigade. In support of these units. with most of their officers and a better part of enlisted ranks at leave. equipped with T-72 MBTs and BMP-2 APCs) and 3rd Tawalkalna al-Allah Mechanized Infantry Division (with two mechanized and one armoured brigade) were deployed north-west of Kuwait. where a squadron of Sukhoi Su-25K fighter-bombers had been deployed as well. the Iraqis deployed four divisions of their Republican Guards Command (RFGC): . 35th “Fatah” Mechanized Brigade.and radar-jammers. outside Kuwait City to the south. like the rest of the country.25 Sqn: 15 A-4KU/TA-4KU at Ahmed al-Jaber AB No.against the Kuwaiti airfields by Iraqi long-range artillery and fighter-bombers of the Iraqi Air Force (IrAF). it had only two main air bases: Ali al-Salem Sabah AB.2nd al-Medinah al-Munawera Armoured Division (with 2nd and 10th Armoured Brigades. even if these could clearly see the Iraqi troops deployed within their sight. planned to be used as the first line of defence of the country.BK-2 Ali al-Salem Sabah AB No. equipped with Chieftains. the level of alertness within the Kuwaiti armed forces was low. Although based south-west of Basrah. to provide close air support and reconnaissance as necessary. The task of helicopter units was foremost to transport and support Iraqi commandos into Kuwait City. the Iraqi Army Aviation Corps (IrAAC) was to deploy a squadron of Mil Mi-25 (ASCC-Code “Hind”) helicopter gunships. south of an-Nasseriyah. and subsequently to support the advance of ground troops. based in southern Kuwait City. it was to make use of a Boeing 727 passenger aircraft. It was only for one week in mid-July 1990 that the Land Forces and the KAF were put on any kind of alert: subsequently. with a significant number of tanks and other vehicles stored.9 Sqn: 14 A-4KU/TA-4KU at Ahmed al-Jaber AB No. In addition.Mk. DC-9-32CF at Ali al-Salem Sabah AB No. and one armoured brigade). All of these were in their bases. On the Kuwaiti side.64 at Ahmed al-Jaber AB No. In essence. Air and artillery strikes would be undertaken only in so far to keep the KAF on the ground.342K Gazelle at Ali al-Salem Sabah AB No. along the Highway 6.41 Sqn: L-100-30.18 Sqn: 13 Mirage F.1st Hammurabi Armoured Division (with 8th and 17th Armoured Brigade. Its strength lied in five squadrons of combat aircraft and helicopters and crews considered proficient on their aircraft.62 Sqn: SA. Main task of the IrAF was to establish air superiority through limited counter-air strikes against two main air bases.1CK/F.1CK-2/F. KAF units were deployed as follows: No. Correspondingly. they were to strike directly on Kuwaiti capital. and the 6th Mechanized Brigade. and Ahmad al-Jaber AB. based in the north.

that reported the first movement of Iraqi units directly towards the border, at 23:00hrs, on 1 August 1990.

Plan of Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, on 2 August 1990, showing main directions of attack. (Map by Tom Cooper, based on Encarta 2003 software)

2 August 1990: Iraqi Invasion The Iraqi attack had been launched at 01:00hrs of 2 August 1990, with the T-72s and mechanized infantry of the al-Medinah al-Munawera Division rolling over the border south of Safwan and along the Highway 6 towards Kuwait City. There was no opposition: although informed, the royal family and Kuwaiti officials did nothing to warn their armed forces, instead being busy with preparations for a hasty departure. The Iraqis swiftly bypassed the base of the 6th Kuwaiti Mechanized Brigade, and rushed towards south, reaching the outskirts of Kuwait City already by 05:00hrs, few minutes before the dawn. Simultaneously, the al-Medinah al-Munawera Armoured Division entered the Rumaylah oilfields and raced towards the south, bypassing the base of the Kuwaiti 35th Mechanized Brigade in the process.

It was only around 05:00hrs that the first Kuwaiti Land Forces unit – roughly a battalion of Chieftain tanks from the 35th Mechanized Brigade, led by Col. Salem al-Srour – has moved out of its base and towards Jahra, with intention of mounting delaying action. At dawn, both sides brought their air forces into action, and it was around this time – shortly after 05:00hrs – that the Kuwaiti air defence units were activated. Shortly before the first wave of IrAF fighter-bombers arrived, two KAF A-4KUs were scrambled from the Ahmed al-Jaber AB. They attacked the front column of the al-Medinah al-Munawera Armoured Division, making two strafing passes each, causing little (if any) damage before escaping undamaged. Due to chaos and break down of its chain of command – but at least as much due to the fact that none of its Pakistani, Indian and Bengali officers and NCOs that managed the armament and technical support of the KAF units was available – the KAF was not yet able of mounting additional sorties before larger formations of Iraqi fighter-bombers and helicopters reached Kuwait City. This meant that none of KAF was caught literally with its “trousers down”. Nevertheless, there was an active MIM-23B I-HAWK site at Bubiyan island, controlled by a US contractor, who ordered it into firing action after detecting the first formations of Iraqi aircraft and helicopters approaching. Despite the Kuwaitis subsequently claiming their “SAM-sites” to have shot down up to 14 Iraqi aircraft and helicopters, only two HAWK-kills can be confirmed: a Su-22 and MiG23BN were shot down while approaching over the northern Persian Gulf at dawn. These two planes belonged to formations that took off from Wahda AB (better known as as-Shoibiyah), and were underway to attack Kuwait IAP, along the route as-Shoibiyah - al-Faw - Kuwait IAP. The Su-22 belonged to the No.109 Squadron, and the MiG-23BN to the No.49 Squadron IrAF, and both fighters were flown by young 1st Lieutenants. Both planes were shot down around 05:00hrs, and the Iraqis found no trace of them subsequently. In reaction to activity of the Kuwaiti MIM-23B I-HAWK site at Bubyan, one of Su-22s from the No.109 Squadron IrAF (based at as-Shoibiyah AB), fired a single Kh-25MP anti-radar missile, forcing the site to shut down its radar. Although the IrAF has had Kh-25s since several years, it never used them against Iran, and this was the first combat firing of this weapon ever. The results of this strike remain unknown. Later in the day, around 09:00hrs, when Iraqi special units arrived on Bubyan Island to capture the I-HAWK site, they found out that it was set on "automatic" mode of operation. The US contractor had fleed, leaving startled Kuwaitis to give up: they have just raised their hands on the sight of the first Iraqi.

IrAF MiG-23BNs are known to have participated in the first series of strikes against Kuwait, on the morning of 2 August 1990. (artwork by Tom Cooper)

On the contrary, some 50 IrAAC Mi-8/17 and Bell 412ST commandos-carrying helicopters, escorted by Mi25s and Bo.105s reached Kuwait City almost unopposed: at the time they arrived no KAF aircraft were airborne. The Iraqis did lose several helicopters when these have hit high tension wires: this caused significant losses and some chaos, at least in so far that Iraqi commandos were prevented from capturing Emir‟s Palace and also failed to intercept the members of the royal family. Contemporary rumours within the US military personnel in Kuwait were that the operation to seize the Emir of Kuwait had failed because Iraqi planners failed to coordinate the one-hour time difference between Kuwait City and Baghdad, resulting in an uncoordinated attack by Iraqi special forces, the Republican Guards forces, and the navy – the ships of which were used not only to carry commandos to assault the city, but also attacked government buildings

and Emirs Dasman and Bayan palaces with artillery fire. From conventional standpoint, the Iraqi counter-air strike was only marginally successful, but it should be mentioned that the IrAF was interested in capturing as many KAF aircraft in intact condition as possible. Nevertheless, air strikes, and shelling of Ali al-Salim Sabah AB did cause some damage: the Mirage F.1CK serialled “712” (wrongly reported as “516” in several Western publications) was hit and reduced to little more but remnants of the rear fuselage, fin, and the starboard wing, while another – unknown – Mirage was damaged as well, and rendered inoperational. Ahmed al-Jaber AB, as well as Kuwait International Airfield have been hit by IrAF fighters as well, and at the later the British Airways Boeing 747 “G-AWND” was destroyed on the ground. Fighting the ensuing chaos, the KAF scrambled to bring as many aircraft into the air as possible – not to fight the Iraqis, but to evacuate them to Saudi Arabia. Despite Kuwaiti claims that their interceptors were scrambled and engaged Iraqi helicopters at low level over Kuwait City, downing up to 15 of these in the process, no eyewitness reports exists for such an engagement. On the contrary: it is obvious that KAF Mirage F.1s fled to Saudi Arabia, unarmed and without any fight. In fact, the IrAF monitored their activity with the help of ESM-equipment on its Boeing 727 that patrolled inside the Iraqi airspace, at medium level. This recorded a number of Mirages and Skyhawks taking off from KAF air bases and disappearing towards south. Only one KAF Mirage attempted to lock-on his radar at the IrAF Boeing for a short period of time, after launching from Ali al-Salem AB: the lock on was broken when the Kuwaiti banked sharply towards the south and disappeared. Iraqi MiG-29s and Mirage F.1EQs were airborne inside the Kuwaiti airspace, and their pilots reported sightings of KAF Skyhawks at least once, but there were no air-to-air combats.

The Invasion of Kuwait, in August 1990, was already the second war to see the participation of the IrAF MiG-29s. The type was by the time in service with two units, one of which was forward deployed at Tallil AB, south of an-Nasseriyah, and used for interception and escort duties. However, just like previously against Iran, 1987-1988, the type failed to score even in the face of vivid activities of the Kuwait Air Force, especially on the early morning of 2 August 1990. Subsequently, IrAF MiG-29s were several times noticed by KAF pilots while these were pounding Iraqi units on the ground, but Iraqi MiGs never got involved in any air combat. The MiG-29 shown hear was seen wearing the serial "29040", and belonged to the third batch, delivered to Iraq only in the spring of 1990. Iraq had over 130 MiG-29s on order by the time, but barely more than 30 examples were eventually supplied. (artwork by Tom Cooper)

The al-Medinah al-Munawera Armoured Division entered Kuwait City by 05:30hrs, its T-72s and BMP-2s racing down the main streets, only to become bogged down in a series of traffic jams. The failure of this unit to drive through the Kuwaiti capitol, and the slow pace at which the Hammurabi Armoured Division followed, permitted the bulk of the Kuwaiti 15th Brigade, located south of Kuwait City, to escape to Saudi Arabia with most of its assets, and also permitted the KAF units at Ahmed al-Jaber AB to prepare additional aircraft for evacuation. At Bayan Palace, the Emiri Guard – supported by several Saladin armoured cars – fought delaying action, but was soon overwhelmed. Between 09:00 and 10:00hrs in the morning, an IrAAC Bell 412ST helicopter was lost over the Persian Gulf, off Kuwait City, under unclear circumstances. Few hours later, a Mi-25 and a Bo.105 failed to return from mission over Kuwait. IrAF SAR helicopters found no survivors. Except for two fighter-bombers shot down early in the morning, these are the only Iraqi losses to at least to some degree confirm Kuwaiti claims, then all three helicopters are suspected by the Iraqis to have been shot down in air-to-air combats. However, the Iraqis never identified the aircraft that attacked these helicopters: they speculated that some of KAF Mirages that landed in Saudi Arabia then returned to attack dozens of IrAAC helicopters that operated at low level between Basrah and Kuwait City. Kuwaiti claim as many as 23 kills against Iraqi helicopters, including 13 scored by Mirage F.1CK and three by A-4KU pilots. However, they neither specify the type of helicopters

Therefore. all the time evacuating additional aircraft towards the south. with what remained of Land Forces being preoccupied by attempts to escape to Saudi Arabia. the Iraqis finally put the Kuwaiti TV out of operation. while six Hawks were evacuated from Ahmed al-Jaber AB to Bahrain: one of them. Those that could have then retreated into Saudi Arabia.432C Super Pumas were used for transporting ammunition to isolated pockets of Kuwaiti Land Forces still resisting the Iraqi onslaught. the Kuwaiti special forces offered some resistance as well. serialled “142”. The assault on the last complex was launched at 13:00hrs with artillery support. Elsewhere. By the noon. At Doha. the Iraqis were in full control of Kuwait City and Kuwait International Airport. Three Gazelle helicopters deployed to attack Iraqi armour were reportedly shot down after taking off from Ali al-Salem Sabah AB. The Emiri Guard fought back already the whole morning. as the few Skyhawks that remained there are known to have operated from the highway nearby in the following two days. None came. The IrAF speculated that some of KAF Mirages that landed in Saudi Arabia have returned back to attack dozens of IrAAC helicopters flying at low level over the Gulf. and the history of IrAAC helicopter losses remain to be more closely examined. or that one of Royal Saudi Air Force F-15s might became involved. otherwise the Iraqi advance would make such operations impossible. The KAF did attempt to put up some fight.342 Gazelles were armed with HOTs and also saw some action during the short war. there was no decision yet as about what to do about it. but was now silenced within just an hour. KAF SA. On the ground. a number of surviving Kuwaiti officers had made calls to various members of USLOK. One of them. the second day saw only limited action. while the single battalion of Chieftains from the 35th Mechanized Brigade did cause some delays in advance of Iraqi units in the west. Its surviving elements then retreated into the neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia: the Iraqi units that pursued them into this area were later wrongly perceived to have been deployed as a spearhead of a possible invasion of Saudi Arabia. This also points at the fact that some units of the Kuwait Land Forces did concentrate in the area and offered resistance. this unit was soon encircled and then run out of ammunition. mainly because the Kuwaiti military resistance had almost come to a standstill. But. desperately asking for help. the KAF claims for this war. serialled “545” was destroyed in an explosion while landing at Ali al-Salim AB. (KAF) 3rd and 4th of August With most of Kuwait swiftly overrun by the Iraqi military.shot down or provide any other kind of reference that would enable a closer cross-examination. however: while the US Administration condemned the Iraqi invasion. During the night. while two others – 541 and 544 – were lost on the same airfield under unknown circumstances. What happened subsequently is not known in great detail. while several KAF SA. scattered Kuwaiti units were still fighting delaying actions along chocke points in the south. until being overrun or running out of ammunition. . was damaged during the landing there. except such key locations like the Bamyan Palace. The later air base was subsequently obviously disabled – either through artillery shelling or additional IrAF air strikes.

six Hawk T. Overall. probably sometimes in the mid-1980s. the aircraft then departing for Saudi Arabia. and during the IIPGW.64s. while TA-4KUs became 881 thru 886. left without ammunition and fuel. near Dhahran. At least one A-4KU was lost in a flying accident sometimes in the early 1980s. Iraqi armament specialists verified that the manufacturing dates of the Kuwaiti Magic were earlier than the first batch of these missiles supplied to IrAF.and Saudi military personnel. where they formed a joint wing with French Mirage 2000s and Mirage F. at least trying to offer some kind of resistance. all the KAF A-4s wore the standard USN BuAerNos. There they have found up to 14 intact Mirage F. Furthermore. and TA-4KUs being 160210 thru 160215. and either 180 or 240 Matra R. At around this time many of Kuwaiti Skyhawks have also got the ALR-45 antenna retrofited to their avionics hump. the Kuwaiti Skyhawks proved their worth. at least two Skyhawks overshoot. having a lower number of working modes even when compared to oldest. Since the procurrement of A-4s for Kuwait ws accomplished via US Navy channels. near Hufuf. the Iraqis found none. The last few Kuwaiti Chieftain tanks of the 35th Mechanized Brigade have fought until the afternoon of 4 August. while four were confirmed as lost by Kuwaitis. that the Cyrano IV radars of Kuwaiti Mirages were older and less capable than those mounted on aircraft delivered to Iraq. early- . and a single Lockheed L-100-30 transport (a civilian version of the C-130 Hercules).1CK/CK-2s and three F.II air-to-air missiles. Then.550 Magic Mk.1BKs to have been captured by Iraqis.1CRs. (artwork by Tom Cooper) Bean-Counting After the war. at least five Skyhawks. Another A-4 crashed during a take-off at night. in Saudi Arabia. Sometimes during the 1980s the KAF Skyhawks were apparently repainted in a new camouflage pattern. better fitting to the baren Kuwaiti landscape over which they usually operated. The remaining Skyhawks at Ahmad al-Jaber AB flew several air strikes in the morning. After being repainted in a new camouflage pattern. subsequently departing for Saudi Arabia.II missiles in Kuwait. the KAF Mirage-fleet was out of business. to inspect the captured equipment and armament. they were then forced to pull back into Saudi Arabia as well. in 1991. the survivors were concentrated at al-Ahsa AB. ending in soft sand. while Iraqis report that the number was between 12 and 14). but otherwise the attrition was very low . in August 1990. back in 1980. A-4KUs being 160180 thru 160209. A US commercial enterprise was immediately contracted to maintain and service survivors evacuated to Saudi Arabia. Although some US intelligence documents – like SPEARTIP 014-90 (released to author in response to FOIA inquiry) – mention that the Iraqis captured even Magic Mk. During their final operations from the highway near Ahmad al-Jaber AB. albeit under unknown circumstances. the IrAF pilots and technicians concluded. and some were in action over Kuwait the same afternoon. The last A-4-sortie from highway near Ahmad al-Jaber AB is said to have been flown on the early morning of 4 August 1990.1CKs (reports differ. where a total of 24 A-4KUs and TA-4KUs were concentrated at King Abdul Aziz AB. Also captured was the whole equipment for four or five MIM-23B I-HAWK batteries and one battery of Skyguard SAMs (together with some 12 SAMs). Iraqi armament specialists from the al-Kut AB were flown to both KAF air bases.Mk.until the Iraqi invasion. with most Western sources citing five F. KAF A-4KUs were allocated serials 801 thru 830.leaving plenty of equipment back. a total of 18 Mirages were flown to two Saudi airfields where they were serviced and armed by French contract. however. Few of them flew some missions over Kuwait on 3 August as well. Subsequently. Meanwhile.

MK.mark Mirage F. One of four KAF Lockheed L-100-30s was captured by the Iraqis during the invasion and taken away. and added to the Flying Leaders School – the fighter-weapons school of the Iraqi Air Force. Instead of advancing as casually. while alone the Kuwaiti MIM-23B I-HAWKs should have shot down 23 Iraqi aircraft and helicopters. Thus. and their validation is therefore impossible. between August 1990 and January 1991. where they were used extensively for training purposes. No less but 15 of these should have been shot down during the first morning of the fighting. where they and their crews were to be reorganized into a "Free Kuwait Air Force". no other specific details about these claims were ever published. In fact. All the KAF Mirages were subsequently transported to Abu Ubaida AB.1EQ interceptors and fighter-bombers delivered to IrAF. However. this invasion did not proceed as easy as expected.were evacuated to Saudi Arabia. Especially attacks on the Bayan Palace and Kuwaiti airfields. Without surprise. and three Super Pumas were lost in combat. in late January 1991. thousands of Kuwaitis and foreigners managed to escape over to Saudi Arabia before the border . (KAF) Far-Reaching Consequences Despite mishaps. five Gazelle helicopters (three shot down by Iraqis and two lost on the ground). this time they have left no doubts about the outcome. with result that most of hardened aircraft shelters housing Kuwaiti Mirages were hit. frequently resembling a motley force without orders. namely. the overall success of the Iraqi invasion was never in question: it had to succeed already due to simple numbers. The Iraqis have.including six Hawk T. three Lockheed L-100-30s. The USA observed this development and this airfield was heavily targeted by USAF.64s. and the other was their inability to sack the rest of the KAF on the first day of the war. while many observers in the west have describe their action as being executed flawlessly. in September 1980. Kuwaiti Hawks were slightly more lucky: they were all transferred to Rashid AB. Much too often they were involved in scavenging food from the locals and stealing bedding items for their hastily constructed fighting positions. the KAF came away in a pretty good shape and only days later the exiled Kuwaiti government claimed that during the invasion a total of eight Mirages. In total. while no less but 80% of KAF assets . destroying eight or ten aircraft inside. it seems that especially the troops of the vaunted Republican Guard have not taken the Kuwaitis particularly seriously: they repeatedly showed the lack of discipline of a well-trained and combat-hardened army. Five were to survive the following war between Iraq and the US-led “Gulf Coalition”. and without obtaining numerical superiority. using LGBs. In total. and most of the helicopters . except for names of nine KAF Mirage and A-4KU pilots that should have scored a total of 16 air-to-air kills. three or four A-4KUs. There were two crucial mistakes. as well as several other key installations are often described as uncoordinated and haphazard. in southern Baghdad. the Kuwaitis claimed the KAF to have shot down no less but 37 Iraqi helicopters and two fighters in two days of battle. obviously drawn important lessons from their invasion of Iran. however: the first was the failure to capture the Emir of Kuwait. in January and February 1991. The plane was later destroyed by the RAF Buccanneers. as well as numerous armoured vehicles. during the following “II Gulf War”. or at least the other higher members of the royal family.

Already two days later. In fact. Instead. which was – for all practical purposes – defenceless. headed by Alaa Hussein Ali. This. In fact. During negotiations on 5 and 6 August. then US troops began arriving in Saudi Arabia only on 8 August 1990. as well as the fact that the US intelligence was uncertain about Iraqi intentions. Learning about this. the swift Iraqi operation exhausted its ability to support the advancing troops during this drive. They were not to find much. led to the US decision to launch a military intervention. in at least two cases IrAF aircraft were turned back by RSAF F-15s while well inside the Saudi airspace. and the Republican Guard was pulled back into southern Iraq. Thus began the direct military confrontation between Iraq and the USA. Nevertheless. the Iraqis were curious about the speed of this deployment and US intentions. they managed to convince Saudi royals about necessity to deploy large contingents of US Army troops and US Air Force aircraft in the country. Therefore. but also the US interest to finally obtain the rights to base troops in Saudi Arabia.was finally sealed. Iraq annexed Kuwait. Baghdad even promised to withdraw all its forces from Kuwait by 5 August. which – in various forms – is continued until our days. obviously searching for traces of Saudi or US military reaction. . on 11 August. installing Hussein as a new provincial governor and describing its operation as “liberation” of the county from the Emir of Kuwait. to the US military analysts. IrAF reconnaissance aircraft flew a number of recce sorties over Saudi Arabia. a puppet government was installed. As the Iraqis began replacing their Republican Guard units in Kuwait by four Army formations already by the 5 August. during the following days. it appeared that the Iraqis would now be preparing for an invasion of north-eastern Saudi Arabia.

Cold War encounters The first encounter took place in October when a flight of MiGs led by Lt. The destination was kept secret until the vessel passed the Straits of Gibraltar.they took to the skies for the first time on 18 September 1962 and were from then on flying a lot. Only after entering the Atlantic Ocean did the ship's captain open a sealed envelope and inform those onboard (senior officers first) where they were actually going. make laughing stock out of the . Bobrov was conducting a training mission his fighter carried only captive training missiles and the MiG's gun was not loaded either. Since the deployment codenamed "Operation Anadyr" was judged to be of strategic importance the units send to Cuba were elite by Soviet standards. [9] Despite the fact that the Soviets were just relocating from Santa Clara to San Antonio. [6] It appears that the AD division‟s unit designation was not changed in similar fashion but its assignment was nevertheless also handled in a very secretive manner. A third encounter with US aircraft involved Major Shtoda. Its circumstances were similar to previous ones . Before embarkation the 32 GIAP left its files and other documents as well as the regimental colors in the Soviet Union becoming the "new" 213 Fighter Regiment [5] for the purpose of its overseas deployment.e. In contrast MiG pilots were much more active . Aircraft. missile) Air Defense Division [2] equipped with S-75N Desna (SA-2c Guideline Mod 2) surface to air missile systems.Col. Perovsky asked ground control for permission to engage them but was categorically forbidden to do so. It should be added that since maj. To the author's knowledge no more aerial incidents involving Soviet and American aircraft took place during the Cuban Missile Crisis. or at least as much of it as possible. the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. in fact they did not fire even a single shot in anger. missiles. Since US reconnaissance aircraft were monitoring the Soviet build-up encounters between "Cold War warriors" were unavoidable. Personnel and equipment were loaded onto the merchant ship "Latvia" (her master was captain Gogridze) in Feodosiya and sailed for Cuba crossing the Black Sea.the Soviet pilot was flying between Camague and Santa Clara when he spotted a pair of RF-101s. the Soviets also deployed conventional forces to Cuba including substantial aviation and AD elements. The Americans did not take any chances and decided that leaving Cuban airspace at high speed would be the most prudent thing to do under the circumstances. [3] The fighter regiment left for Cuba from Baltiysk aboard the ships "Volgoles" [4] and "Nikolayevsk".Col. Another incident took place on 4 November. the ground defenses would for the time being stand down. The former included the Kubinka based 32nd Guards Fighter Regiment [1] which had MiG-21F/F-13 fighters on charge while the latter comprised the 11th Rocket (i. other than taking up positions. Sergey Perovsky [8] came across two RF-101s. Covering Cuba's airspace. auxiliary equipment and last but not least the personnel were send to Cuba by ship. [10] Those who promulgate reports of aerial victories that never took place confuse both professional researchers as well as amateur aviation enthusiasts. This time a MiG with Major Dmitry Bobrov at the controls was returning from a training mission when he was ordered by ground control to intercept and chase away two RF-101s. For this reason SAM sites dotting the countryside were placed 60 to 80 kilometers away one from the other. It is sufficient to say that other than the nuclear tipped missiles. Let it be clearly stated that Soviet pilots never made such claims. Before moving on an important issue needs to be adressed first.The loss of Major Anderson and his U-2 The Big Brother As most readers are familiar with the Cuban Missile Crisis a lengthy introduction can be dispensed with. Upon sighting the American aircraft Lt. [7] Once in Cuba the 213 IAP was based at Santa Clara military airfield while the 11 AD division established its HQ in Camaguey. The Soviet pilot maneuvered to gain an advantageous position and once the Americans realized that they had unwelcomed company both turned in the direction of Florida leaving Cuban airspace at high speed. Namely some aviation writers in the former Soviet Union want their readers to believe that Soviet pilots deployed to Cuba had shot down three US aircraft: a single "Vodoo" on 18 October 1962 as well as two "Starfighters" on 20 and 26 October (one F-104 on each day). required to deploy air defense units across the island. their aircraft carried live R-3S air to air missiles. However. Fighter pilots from Kubinka were considered the Soviet aviation's cream of the crop while the AD division selected had achieved good results in training and a large part of its personnel were members of the Party or Komsomol. Wasting no time he maneuvered to attain an advantageous position in the rear hemisphere of the US aircraft.

On one hand Moscow wanted to maintain tight control over unfolding events but on the other hand decisionmakers in the Soviet capital desired to have convenient scapegoats in case anything went wrong. Such lack of clarity was not accidental but resulted from what can be called Soviet "political culture". On the evening of 26 October Fidel Castro visited the Soviet headquarters at El Chico arguing that considering the situation .multiple aerial incursions by US aircraft on a daily basis and the threat of an invasion . They wanted Gen. The 11 AD division turned on its radars for the first time on 22 . Anderson. At the same time the Soviet forces' deputy commander Gen. were very nervous especially that Moscow did not bother to inform them about the ongoing Kennedy Khrushchev negotiations. The United States made it clear that Soviet nuclear missiles right at its doorstep are not acceptable and will have to be removed from Cuba in one way or another. It is therefore likely that he was not gone but might have been incapacitated by his illness. It could be when bombs were already being dropped by hostile aircraft or when an incoming formation of aircraft was detected as well as everything inbetween. As already previously noted Soviet air defenses were standing down. Leonid Garbuz and the deputy commander responsible for air defenses Gen. At the same time the Cubans. The trouble was that "manifested attack" was not defined in any way. with the Bay of Pigs invasion fresh in their memory.[11] The Soviets on the island also felt a great strain for they clearly understood that they were at the very front line of the Cold War which could turn really hot at any moment. Nothing could be further from the truth as the situation was very serious to the point of being grave. Others however knew. Originally as many as four U-2 missions were planned for 27 October but in the end only a single U-2F serial 56-6676 with Major Rudolf Anderson Jr. Soviet radar activity did not escape their attention and a report was swiftly dispatched. Florida. The latter comprised RB-47 electronic reconnaissance aircraft belonging to the 55 Strategic Reconnaissance Wing as well as an appropriately equipped naval vessel. Meanwhile the U-2 overflew the area of Guantanamo [13] after which it turned in a northwesterly direction taking it on a course that would eventually lead back towards the USA. Unfortunately it proved impossible to get hold of him because he was away . To complicate the matters even more Moscow kept them in the dark about how the situation was developing [12] while the instructions given were vague in many crucial aspects. Issa Pliyev who was in overall command of Soviet forces deployed in Cuba to make a decision on what to do with the US aircraft. especially that many interesting stories are still waiting to be told. Pliyev was suffering from serious health problem in particular the kidneys were giving him trouble.23 October but most of the time they were off. as subsequent events demonstrated. Stepan Grechko were debating how to handle the situation.at least this is what his aide-de-camp stated. Meanwhile preparations for another day of activity were also taking place across the Florida Strait. Anderson was totally oblivious of the mortal danger he was exposed to. taking off from McCoy Air Force Base in Orlando. aviation veterans and finally the authors themselves to write about facts rather than invent fiction. It would serve much better the readership. for apart from high altitude and tactical photographic reconnaissance aircraft which were actually flying over Cuba the US also deployed SIGINT assets in the vicinity of the island. The shootdown Taking the above mentioned circumstances into account a serious incident was hardly avoidable. The Cuban leader gave orders to his country's forces to fire at American aircraft and. the Soviets went along with him. One should however keep in mind that Gen. which went up all the way to Washington. alas there were no means to alert Maj. The events described so far may convey a false impression that the whole Cuban affair was not much more than a Soviet overseas excursion resulting in some of the usual Cold War games. Because their superior could not be reached they took the responsibility upon themselves. Since the aircraft's progress was steadily reported Generals Garbuz and Grechko understood at this point. . that the time to make a decision was running out. Anderson entered Cuban airspace the Soviet radars were tracking his U-2 which for those on the ground become Target 33. The former required issuing instructions with many restriction but the latter called for purposeful vagueness so as to enable to put the blame on the people in the theatre of operations who "did not act according to the orders". the USS Oxford. When in the morning of 27 October Maj.air defenses should be activated.airmen who supposedly attained these "achievements" and last but not least seriously undermine the credibility of writings on aviation subjects originating in the former Soviet Union. Soviet radar operators and their superiors nervously watched his aircraft's progress with missile batteries across the island being put on full combat alert but Maj. at the controls received the order to fly over Cuba. permission to open fire was granted only in the case of manifested attack. Concerning the actual use of weapons.

Both generals agreed that the U-2 has to be shot down and decided to take responsibility for this act. boasted of a great victory over the "Yankee imperialists".needles to say Maj. coming down near the village Veguitas with Major Anderson‟s body still strapped in the cockpit. the latter repeated the order to his superior [14] and than related it to the CO of the 507 AD regiment Guseinov (rank ?) who in turn did the same passing down the order to Major Ivan Gerchenkov. Scans of contemporary press reports about the downing of Anderson's U-2. soon to be followed by the press. Gen. Soviets SAM operators reported to have fulfilled the task assigned (i. Grechko issued the order to destroy Target 33 via telephone to the CO of the 11 AD division Colonel Georgi Voronkov. In no small part due to president Kennedy's ability to resist being carried away by sudden developments. Fortunately the Americans changed their mind not least because they thought that the decision to fire on US aircraft was not a deliberate provocation by Moscow but was made locally. It transpired that his pressure suit was pierced by fragments causing a rapid decompression at high altitude . Understandably the mood across the Florida Strait was not that ecstatic. Curious villagers quickly flocked to the crash site and Cuban military personnel also appeared at the scene. negotiations with the Soviets continued and nuclear war was avoided. The actual shooting was the work of a SAM site located in the vicinity of the town Banes in Oriente province. Anderson did not survive. (DAAFAR Museum) The aftermath Let it be added that the US came close to loosing a second aircraft. In no time the Cuban radio. As we now know their assessment was correct for this was indeed the case. Once that happened events moved quickly.e that the US aircraft was shot down) up the chain of command with the timing of the event being put at 10 : 19 a. The news of the U-2's downing reached Washington just as president Kennedy was holding another meeting in the White House.m. no retaliatory action took place. As a result of a three missile salvo fired the U-2 was hit. the commander of the regiment's 1 battalion. Beforehand the US president and his close circle agreed that if an American aircraft was shot down the US would attack Cuba. Castro did not make an empty threat the .

Some parts are also at the Playa Girón museum though of course the U-2 had no connection of any sort with the earlier Bay of Pigs affair. what to do in case of sudden developments. Since no loss of life took place and the material damage was limited the White House choose to completely ignore this incident. Several hours after the U-2 was brought down a US Navy RF-8 on a low level photoreconnaissance missions was hit by a 37 mm shell. Perhaps a little surprisingly the whole affair made almost no impression in Moscow. not only because every case is unique but also for the circumstances of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Namely it was one of those situations when the Cold War could have turned really hot with an exchange of nuclear missile strikes between the superpowers being a realistic possibility. Gerchenkov and his men. Therefore it had no impact on the situation's development during the Cuban Crisis whatsoever. deserves not to be forgotten as all the other victims of the Cold War.previous evening for he indeed ordered Cuban air defenses to shoot at US aircraft. Concerning the aircraft in which he flew his final mission the remains of the shot down U-2 are on display at the Museum of the Revolution in Havana. . just to name a few. felt a sense of having done a good job . Major Anderson who paid with his life for the superpowers' brinkmanship. what were the other side's intention. Fortunately this time luck was on the pilot's side for he managed to fly the damaged aircraft back to base. Fortunately the parties involved were able to restrain themselves and the U-2's downing remained an isolated incident which did not result in an escalation or we might not have been reading this piece now. difficulties and problems faced by all sides: the assessing of what was actually going on. Those deployed in Cuba. Arguably the Soviet leadership was preoccupied with the ongoing negotiations and since this incident did not derail them it did not warrant much attention. how do deal with a lack of vital information and how to interpret instructions that are either vague or do not fit the circumstances. USSR's defense minister at that time Marshal Rodion Malinovski laconically remarked that it was done a little too early. This particular incident illustrates well various dangers. Once the Cuban Missile Crisis ended Major Rudolf Anderson's body was returned to the United States and laid to rest on 6 November at Woodlawn Memorial Park. Looking back at the events described above it can be stated that on one hand the shooting down of a reconnaissance aircraft was almost a "typical" Cold War incident but on the other hand it was unique. [15] The downing of the U-2 caused different reactions among the Soviets. while not gleeful.they had shot down an aircraft which was after all their "field of business". Col. Voronkov visited the SAM site congratulating Maj.

(Olivier Fourt & Alain Cuenca) Footnotes . Below: the engine of the same aircraft.Above: left wing and part of the tail of the downed U-2 as preserved in DAAFAR Museum.

Cuba and back for a few times (it took several shiploads to move an entire AD division) capt. [7] let it be pointed out that having made the round trip Soviet Union . As for the aircraft and ground support equipment it was left over to the host nation becoming the nucleus of the Cuban air arm's "Fishbed" force. However despite opening fire on a few occasions they made relatively little use of them. Similarly Western pilots would often call any Eastern military aircraft a MiG. . Since the missiles were moved into position on the night of 26-27 October their presence could not have been revealed by earlier reconnaissance missions therefore they were still a secret to the Americans (their discovery came about on the 28 October but the missiles were not identified for what they really were).let it be added that the unit was not a stranger to overseas deployment ("fraternal help" as the Soviets preferred to call it) for it had already send a squadron to Indonesia [2] The 11 AD division was headquartered in Volgograd. Ambassador Alekseyev's claim is doubtful for it taking into account his rank and posting is unlikely that he would receive informations (detailed ones in particular) about the Kennedy .at least from the Soviets point of view . failed to stop when challenged by a Soviet guard.[1] 32 GIAP to go by its Russian abbreviation . a cow ! The net result of the incident was positive . As a result other than the damage inflicted to the "Crusader" no more serious incidents took place. In Vietnam the Soviets frequently referred to American aircraft as "Thunderchiefs" or "Phantoms" regardless of their actual type. The man fired a warning shot but since it was ignored a bullet was sent in the direction of "the menace hiding in the dark". [10] A small correction is necessary for two shots were actually fired though not in the air but on the ground.for 213 IAP's personnel could enjoy some fresh beef. [14] It was a standard procedure for the recipient to repeat the order received so as to ensure his superior that it was clearly understood. it included the 507 Air Defense Regiment [3] with the exception of some of the fighter regiment's personnel who were flown to Cuba on board a passenger plane [4] she was also one of the vessels which ferried the nuclear missiles from Cuba back to the Soviet Union once the crisis was over [5] the Russian abbreviation being IAP [6] Once the Cuban deployment was over the regiment's personnel returned to the Soviet Union with the 32 GIAP being "resurrected". Namely a late night intruder. The fact that Maj. The missiles had nuclear warheads and were meant to "neutralize" the US base at Guantanamo in the case of an American invasion. who could not be identified because of darkness.. As a result the intruder was "dropped" and the first glance at the cadaver revealed that it was . One reason is that ambassador Alekseyev was pressuring Castro to refrain from shooting at US aircraft in order not to aggravate the already strained situation. Anderson overflew the area in question was arguably one of the main reasons behind the Soviet Generals' decision to down the U-2. [13] It is important to note that the U-2 had overflown a Soviet FKR cruise missile site in the village of Filipinas to the west of Guantanamo.Khrushchev correspondence.. Gogridze knew the destination but each time maintained secrecy [8] he was the 213 IAP's deputy commander [9] On this as well as on other occasions Soviet pilots identified US aircraft encountered as "Voodos" which may or may not be the case. [11] According to Aleksandr Alekseyev who was at that time the Soviet Union's ambassador to Cuba he briefed the country's leader on each exchange of massages between Moscow and Washington but if it is to go by most sources Fiedel was kept in the dark about the ongoing negotiations. [12] This is illustrated best by the fact that an important source of information for the Soviets in Cuba were the "Voice of America" broadcasts (sic !). [15] While the Cubans had no means to effectively engage high flying targets such as the U-2 their numerous AA guns posed a serious threat to low flying aircraft.

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