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Monday Eye Candy: Tomcats and Sukhois. What!?

by John Reed on January 30, 2012


Here are some images I wasn’t expecting to see this century. It shows the Su-27s of the Russian Knights aerobatic team being escorted by Iranian F-14 Tomcats and F-4 Phantoms. Talk about bizarre. Two of America’s legendary Cold War fighters being flown by one of its biggest 21st Century adversaries alongside two Soviet-designed jets that were meant to shoot them down.

Click through the jump for more great pics.

Images via Alert5.

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{ 128 comments… read them below or add one }

steve January 30, 2012 at 11:11 am

I think I;am gonna be sick…


Uranium238 January 30, 2012 at 11:23 am

I know how you feel. These SOBs still have some of theirs flying and we scrapped ours to prevent them from getting parts?! UGH!

I will be sad to see such a great plane get lost if we ever had an air engagement with Iran. I won't feel sorry for the crazed jihadis flying them when an F-22 greets them with an D model AMRAAM at about 80 miles out.


Thunder350 January 30, 2012 at 9:50 pm

That's if we use the F-22's. The military seems reluctant to use them. Even when we were clearing the air space in Libya. Imagine the field day the press would have if one "crashes".


Uranium238 January 31, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Holding back an aircraft designed for air superiority is not going to improve its lethality.


morty January 30, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Sick about what ? So they have a few out dated U.S. aircraft. Iran has had them for years and nothing has happened. The F-22 and F-35 will kick there ass. We dont even know how old these pictures are.


RunningBear January 30, 2012 at 11:12 am

Odd that the Iranian "Tom Cats" are flying in the "wing forward position". Are they not able to retract the wing in flight? I doubt the Su's are flying that slow! :)


David January 30, 2012 at 11:21 am

That's not uncommon or out of the ordinary at all. It's just the standard flight configuration. Cruising speed for a fighter isn't really all that much more than a standard jet airliner so there's no need for the auto-sweep to kick in and reduce drag in order to go faster.

However, if you look at the trail F-14 in the second picture, you'll see his wings are slightly swept back, not full forward.


Greg January 30, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Really? Why do you propose they have adjustable whings?


tiger January 31, 2012 at 1:02 am

You can't fly faster than the photo plane.


Dirt February 2, 2012 at 8:38 am

All Tomcats had four wing positioning modes: Auto; Bomb; Manual and Emergency. The latter was used to place the wings in the Oversweep position (75 degrees) after flight. While in flight, the most common mode was to leave the wings in the Auto position and let the computer control the most efficient wing sweep angle for optimal flight configuration. The Manual mode was used mostly to place the wings all the way aft (68 degrees) to make the aircraft look really shit-hot. She was a dream to fly -a truly magical airplane!

OBTW, I personally delivered two Tomcats to Iran in 1975-6. We flew them from the Grumman Plant in Long Island to Esfahan with a stop at Torrejon AFB in Madrid. Each leg was about 12 hours long. Flew back business class on Pan Am compliments of the Shah.


blight February 2, 2012 at 9:36 am

Did you ever fly Tomcats for the Navy? Curious on the difference between the Shah's models and the Navy. I imagine the whole dust filter angle (like with the Kidds) would've been in play for aircraft as well, so there could have been some sort of modification to accomodate operations in Iran. However, the general consensus is that in terms of engines, electronics and weapons they were essentially identical to those flown by the Navy.


Dirt February 3, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Yes, I have 2500 hours in F-14's. Only Navy pilots ferried the the aircraft from the Grumman plant to Esfahan.

The airframe and engines on the Iranian Tomcat were identical to those flown by the USN. The real magic of the Tomcat was in the software interface (called Tapes) with the weapons system. Iranian Tomcats got a "for export" tape which meant that it was vastly inferior to what we were using in the USN Toms. That meant their weapons, including the Phoenix missile, were also limited in their capability.


blight February 3, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Ah. So hardware-wise they were the same coming out of the factory, but because of different software packages they were neutered/disabled?

Do you think the Iranians could really have pulled off the claimed kill numbers with an export tape?

blight February 3, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Also: So for the tapes, what kind of chain of custody is issued for the tapes? Might it have been possible for one to disappear into government inventory, and get picked up by an Iranian agent at a warehouse liquidation sale?

Riceball January 30, 2012 at 11:13 am

Wow, they're really pulling out all of the stops by escorting the Russians with a couple of their precious few working Tomcats. I imagine that those Tomcat pilots must have been ecstatic to actually get an opportunity to actually get some flight time in them since with the shortage of parts I imagine that these Tomcats spend most of their time grounded.


coryatjohn January 30, 2012 at 5:14 pm

More like sucking the seat cushions up their butts! Those planes are probably ready to fall out of the air.


Dfens January 30, 2012 at 11:17 am

This seems like a fitting photo to me as the Sukois are basically just a fixed wing copy of the Tomcat. Too bad we didn't learn as much from the success of the F-14 design as the Russians did.


crackedlenses January 30, 2012 at 11:24 am

Dumb question, but could you elaborate on the successes of the F-14 design? From what I've read, both the F-14 and the F-111 had rather bumpy careers…..


Riceball January 30, 2012 at 11:42 am

The bumps in the F-14's career was in large part due to weak engines for most of their career that gave them poor thrust to weight ratio and (iirc) often required full afterburners for take off which used up a lot of gas. Then later on as they got older they required a lot of maintenance and tended to require a lot of time in the shop between flights to keep them maintained and in flying condition. But as I understand it, when it was flying the Tomcat was a great bird and very maneuverable in spite of its size and then engine problem was eventually resolved with the F-14D program but that result in very many D model Tomcats before they were all retired.


crackedlenses January 30, 2012 at 4:17 pm



Dfens January 30, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Riceball had a very good answer. There was a plan in the works to sharpen up the leading edge of the glove to give the airplane more vortex strake lift, which would make it easier to land and generally make it better able to operate at high angles of attack, along with giving it an up rated F-110 that would have been something to see if it had happened.

The F-14's advantage was that it had very low drag. As long as it was going fast, it had the upper hand in a an air-to-air engagement. Once it lost energy in a few turns, though, the too small engine made it hard to come out on top. A friend of mine who is an ex-F-15 driver said of the Tomcat, "once those wings came forward, it was all over."

Part of the low drag aspect of the F-14 was due to the location of the engines, which you see repeated in the Su-27 along with some other related features. Apparently the USAF was so spooked by Mavrick's flat spin in the movie "Top Gun" that they've decided both engines need to be right next to one another in all their fighter airplanes forever more.


Nadnerbus January 31, 2012 at 3:31 am

Yeah, I had read comments from pilots about not really flying the plane, but flying the engines. Certain parts of the flight envelope were known to cause compressor stalls, even though the airframe was designed to surpass those areas. It was really sad that the Tomcat spent most of its time in service underpowered. We never really got to see it live up to its full potential as an interceptor and dog fighter.

I actually am really happy to see some still in the air, looking beautiful up there, even if it is for the Iranian air force. Hopefully some day the Iranian people can ditch their nutty rulers and they can bring them to our air shows. That would be great to see on a lot of levels.

Crash January 31, 2012 at 9:03 am

Also F-14As were converted to A+ and then renumbered F-14B. These were A models with the D engine and ground attack capability. Nick named Bombcat. These upgrades eliminated the engine trouble, but alas those airframes had high times and lots of cycles.


pleuris January 30, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Sukhoi was and is very capable doing their own designs, The fact that the teen fighters and the Sukhois and Migs look alike is because both sides were on par in aerodynamics. Both sides had is own approach on how to accomplish their specs that resulted in swing wing and fixed wing designs..


JRL January 30, 2012 at 5:35 pm

'InventedintheUSfirst!'ers ought'a take a look at the MiG-25. Which was flying years before either the Tomcat or Eagle. Of course, there is the A-5 Vigilante, which other than having a single vertical tail, also broadly resembles the above aircraft. It first flew 3 yrs before the first Foxbat made it into the air.

The real reason that MiGs and Sukhois , esp 3rd Gen jets like the MiG-19/21 and the Su-7/9/11, often looked very similar, was because the Soviets had an independent aerodynamic research institute that would come up with basic planforms, and then assign development and manufacture of jets based on those planforms to MiG and Sukhois. MiG specializing in smaller, lightweight models, and Sukhoi specializing in the larger, heavier ones.

Both the Fulcrum and the Flanker familes have their origins in the Soviet era.


Alex February 18, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Basically yes, but in other hand basically NO Su27 and F14 have just one thing which is connected them, Su 27 was make it like direct response to F14 and there start and end's any others similarity.Jesus where is end of that all-around premise which is some how put in mind of "young" Americans, that all weapons which is good and made by Russian is direct copycat job from US of A.


cozine January 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Both are beautiful planes and both will go down aviation history as hallmarks of aircraft design and engineering. Political hot heads – relax and enjoy this rare sight.


Fred Murre January 30, 2012 at 12:18 pm

IIRC the Iranians were rumored to have given the Soviets an F-14 or two after the revolution in return for manufacture of reasonable spare parts.


TLAM Strike January 30, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Actually the Iranians kept the Russians far away from their American gear. They consider the Russians a potential enemy.

That rumor comes from how the Russians got some Iranian AIM-9s and a F-5. They got them from the Iraqis who got them from a defected Iranian pilot.

The photos of a Tomcat in Russian colors that were circulating around the net a while ago where fake.


blight January 30, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Agreed. The Russians were arming Saddam at the time, and only Israel was funneling arms to the Iranians. Giving the Russians F-14 parts would be shooting themselves in the back.


JRL January 30, 2012 at 8:12 pm

You forgot one other arms supplier to the Islamic Republic of Iran. The USA.

But don't feel bad. After all, Lt Col Ollie North and Ronald Reagan didn't remember that, either…


Taggert January 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Surprised they didn't try to put the RQ-170 up there as well.


TonyC January 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm

The Iranian F-14's probably can't fire the AIM-54 Phoenix missiles, but could still pose
a serious threat to the US Navy F-18's in a dog fight. The problem with selling military hardware to precarious allies is they can change sides in an instant. Now the
Iranians have an adavnced airframe to use as a template for their own design.


cozine January 30, 2012 at 12:40 pm

In fact these F-14s CAN fire AIM-54. 424 phoenix missiles were ordered along with the 80 tomcats. How many are there left operational is a different question; but if my memory serve me right, the Iranian did manage to modify the Tomcats so that they can fire Hawk SAMs.


TLAM Strike January 30, 2012 at 2:11 pm

There is about 50 or some AIM-54s said to be left in Iran’s arsenal.


blight January 30, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I'm surprised they had any left, considering they had to fight ten years of painful combat against the Iraqis.


blight January 30, 2012 at 2:17 pm
mpower6428 January 30, 2012 at 3:29 pm

"precarious allies" you could have just said "dictatorships", brutal ones. like saudi arabia.


blight January 30, 2012 at 11:16 pm

True. In the early days, Israel might've been classified as a precarious ally. No love of the west after the British gave them a hazing, and certainly no love for the Soviets who mistreated Jews and armed the Arabs (though the initial fight of Arabs vs Jews was with British/West Euro hardware on both sides, as British troops from the Mideast returned home to national armies)


Matt January 30, 2012 at 8:13 pm

No only are the Iranian F-14 air frames and avionics vastly out dated compared to USN Super Hornets, Iranian pilots also have much less air time and combat experience than their American counterparts.


Riceball January 31, 2012 at 11:50 am

Not to mention that they're almost certainly not in first rate operating condition. Tomcats in US service were known as maintenance hogs requiring a lot of time being serviced, now imagine trying to keep a bunch of Tomcats flying without a steady supply of spares and no access to Northrop/Grumman engineers when something goes wrong and you don't know what to do.


Anthony Kiggins January 31, 2012 at 8:39 pm

After years flying both the U.S. Navy's F-14 and FA-18, I can say without reservation that the Iranian F-14A's would pose no threat the the U.S. Navy/Marine Corps FA-18's.


cozine January 30, 2012 at 12:43 pm

"Template of their own design" – you mean the twin tailfin F-5s?


Lance January 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Makes me miss the Tomcat. The F-14D and proposed F-14F had got ride of all the problems of the old A models in engines troubles. The F-14 could kick a F-18s but most of the time. Too bad politics killed them.

Hate to admit the F-14 looks awesome in Desert camo just as it did in the grey yellow and back of the old VF-84 Jolly Rogers squadron.


Ted_Kozikowski February 2, 2012 at 12:21 am

Lets go further back to the Phantom. When I was with VF-161, USS Midway, Yokosuka, Japan. There were a few time when our pilots went up against the Tomcat "and" held their own. Kind of brings tears to your eyes.


Nicky January 30, 2012 at 1:02 pm

So this proves the point of so many Aces that this planet has, that no matter the type of plane, It all boils down to the skill of the Fighter pilot. You can have a very high tech fighter, but have a crappy pilot vs having a very crappy fighter and a very skilled pilot. It just boils down to how good is your fighter pilots. Judging by how the Iranians fly and fight in the air, I doubt they would not be a match for any western Fighter pilot, who is a graduate of Either Top Gun school or Red Flag or maple flag. Even though the Iranians have F-14's, we have pilots that are experienced enough to take them down in one swipe.


TLAM Strike January 30, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Doesn’t matter how good of pilot you have if your jet drops out of the sky because it was not maintained.

Iran just lost a F-14 and two air crew last week.


Nicky January 30, 2012 at 3:23 pm

That's why it proves that not matter how well maintained or high tech your aircraft is, it all boils down to how good your pilot is and your Crew chief is.


Atomic Walrus January 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm

The best crew chief in the world will have a hard time compensating for a worn-out airframe and a scarce parts supply. The F-14 was a complicated weapons system in its day, and is no less complex now that its technology has been surpassed. The difference is that there aren't nearly so many people fluent in maintaining the old technology. Tried to get anybody to repair a floppy disk drive lately?


Nicky January 31, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Just ask all the Air combat aces in the world who their Crew Chiefs are and I can bet, behind every Air combat Ace is a Crew Chief who kept his or her plane in top condition. It also boils down to how skilled your fighter pilots.

Lance January 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Don't underestimate some Iranian pilots they have combat experience against Iraq in the 80s and have decent weapons too. Never underestimate a opponent.


JRL January 30, 2012 at 5:46 pm

That's right. Combat experience against the Iraqi air force. And we all know how formidable they were during Desert Storm..

What really hurts the effectiveness of the IRIAF is the distrust of the ayatollahs. The air force has always been the most secular and cosmopolitan of the Iranian combat arms, and because of this, more emphasis has been put on ensuring loyalty to the regime, than on increasing combat effectiveness.


Matt January 30, 2012 at 8:20 pm

That's 30 years ago. If the pilots were about 20 in that war (assuming Iranian pilots are college educated officers) theyd be 50yrs old now. America has young pilots w/experience as recent as Iraq in '03 and Libya in '11.


blight January 30, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Fair enough. It's probably like saying before WW2 the American military was battle-tested because of participation in WW1.

They're not ready for the next war that involves Iran. I mean, they won't roll over, but it won't end well for them on many levels.


JRL January 31, 2012 at 12:22 am

The revolution and initial purges were 30 yrs ago, but the suspicion and culture gap still remain. Not to mention that the people who make the policy and decisions concerning training methods and promotions are rarely people in their 20s and 30s. Even in Western air forces.

It's the 50+ guys who survived the purges who are now running the show. Under the close supervision of the religious types…


Matt Holzmann January 30, 2012 at 1:08 pm

We're talking aircraft that are at a minimum 25-30 years old at this point which have been poorly maintained. I would think hitting afterburner on either type would result in either one of those little farts we used to see in the cartoons or complete immolation.

Flying them in combat is a great way to meet Allah and their 72 virgins. Poor maintenance, no parts, and limited flying time does not bode well for the IAF.


Joe Bruno January 31, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Are you sure about the 72 Virgins. I thought it was 77 Virgins…


david h January 30, 2012 at 1:19 pm

We'll see F-15's posing with Flankers before the next decade is over…


JRL January 30, 2012 at 8:22 pm

F-15s have appeared at theRussian MAKS air shows for years. As has the B-1.

Seeing those jets sitting on the ramp next to Flankers and Blackjacks, and right next door to Moscow must seem surreal to the old Cold Warriors. On both sides of the fence…


kirk Auston February 2, 2012 at 11:28 am

dont you know the su-27 are f-15's whats sick is both countries are our enemies and yet they have american jets….what gives…its true that we are being killed by american war machines.stop selling american war equipment to foreign nations.


blight February 2, 2012 at 12:05 pm

We sold the F-14's in the '70s when the Shah was our friend against the Soviets, who were avowedly coming after us. That said, I don't think F-14s have killed any Americans. The only times Americans have been killed by Soviets in the air is by the VVS shooting down aircraft that went near or into Soviet airspace; and Mig-15's with Soviet advisors in them, and presumably Soviets manning ground SAM batteries in Vietnam.


blight January 30, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Quick Q:

Are these F-14's at Esfahan airport? (Khatami Air Base, built once the Shah received F-14's)


ABH1 (ret) February 2, 2012 at 7:53 am

Very close, but I dont think so, the shaow's dont help with a good ID but something is off a little. wish the pic was a little clearer.


Sanem January 30, 2012 at 2:15 pm

on IAF vs USN

throwing outdated fighters at the world's most powerful air force would be stupid beyond reason

if Iran tries something they'll probably round up Saudi hostages, put them in an airliner, and use it as a human shield
- shoot, and you kill the hostages and anger Saudi Arabia
- don't shoot, and those outdated aircraft can launch all the missiles they want at stand off ranges, or even get close enough to the carriers

this is the age of insurgent tactics, we better start adapting to it, rather than assume the enemy will try to fight a battle they know they'll never win


Eagle eye January 31, 2012 at 10:56 am

Don't give 'em any ideas.


blight January 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm

It would have been interesting if the Iranians had gotten their hands on blackbirds. Considering the costs on our end maintaining them and all.

We'd probably still have our Blackbirds if they still had weaponized ones, or we would have developed missiles fast enough to take down Iranian A-12's. Nothing like the other guy having really fancy hardware to motivate weapons development.


Lance January 30, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Guys Guys stop attacking each other. the fact is as a A-7 replacement the F-18 was fine but it is far far less capable than the F-14. The fact was it was cheaper to operate the F-14D for defense and Grumman proposed the F-14F which would have made a Strike Tomcat interdiction fighter like the F-15E is in the USAF. Thous would have been alot cheaper than the crappy F-18E Super Hornet in range payload and air to air capabilities. This was killed by then Sec of Defense Dick Cheney who got BIG kick backs from then McDonald Douglas to scrap all other planes for a all Hornet fleet. He forced his way and now the navy lacks air superiority fighters and heavy ground attack planes for a so called multirole fighter which can do the jobs marginally well instead of having a dedicated plane to do the job greatly.

Iran could have replaced F-14s with new MiG-29s and SU-27s very easily over the last 20 years. Fact is there Tomcats out preform all US Navy planes and only the F-15 and F-22 can take one on in a even air to air fight and come ahead.

I know you Hornet lover will hate me. But the F-18 is NOT the best plane in the field.


Nadnerbus January 31, 2012 at 1:11 am

The Hornet requires something like less than half the maintenance hours of the Tomcat. Personnel costs are king in the new Navy, and new Hornets were simply more efficient than even new built Tomcats would have been. They are clearly not as capable as the Tomcat, but then the Navy has not really replaced the payload and range of the A-6, or the anti-sub capability of the S-3 either.

I just don't think the evidence is there for an anti-Grumman/Tomcat conspiracy. The bean counters got together with the operations guys and they decided on the best compromise they could get for the money they were willing to spend. There is no way a Clinton era defense climate would have allowed a proper air superiority fighter program for the Navy to go through. A redesigned and updated Tomcat/bombcat would have been nice, but they got more bang for the buck with the Super Hornet.

Hell, I give big props to the Navy for getting the Super Hornet designed and into service in such a short space of time. That was a major coupe in how they worked around the bloated and inefficient defense acquisition process to get what they needed quickly and on cost.


Benjamin January 30, 2012 at 2:55 pm

It would be interesting to see how our tactics would be used in the bvr arena in regards to an AIM-54 launch from one of these Tomcats. More interesting if the Iranians were capable of doing any modifications without us knowing.

In the end I still think it would be beat


mamba January 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Raptor was there… sneakskie like.


Dave G January 30, 2012 at 8:30 pm
lilJonny January 31, 2012 at 12:01 am

here we come WW3…


Woody January 31, 2012 at 6:34 am

If the Military needs F-14's we have still have hundreds of them, just go to Tucson and drive around the boneyard. Row upon row of mothballed F-14's among hundreds of other outdated types of the older model F-18's, F-111's, A-6's, F-4's, F-15's, A-10's, B-52's etc etc etc….just waiting for maybe China to do something stupid…


Crash January 31, 2012 at 8:54 am

Most of the F-14s have been destroyed, look at google earth only about a dozen left, the rest are in museums. Govt did not want spare parts getting to Iran so they were slated for disposal.


blight January 31, 2012 at 9:24 am

Iran got its hands on F-14 parts when the military liquidated its inventory in sales to free up warehouse space. Every once in a while, a part that could be used in a F-14 appeared.

The F-14's in the boneyard are safe from the evil Iranians.


Sgt. Squido February 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm

"The F-14's in the boneyard are safe from the evil Iranians"



USN GCI February 1, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Aside from the museum planes the F14s were destroyed for this very reason


blight January 31, 2012 at 9:30 am

While looking for more information on the F-14's, found something interesting, from a website about the Shah-era air force.


blight January 31, 2012 at 9:32 am

And http://old.tehrantimes.com/Index_view.asp?code=21

Which suggests the F-14s might continue to fly for some time.


tiger January 31, 2012 at 7:05 pm

How do you say "Maverick" & "Goose" in Persian? I guess "Iceman" & "Hollywood" are flying Number 2?


crackedlenses January 31, 2012 at 10:55 am

But if the Iranians are desperate enough……


tiger January 31, 2012 at 11:09 am

Hey how about those F-4's? Who in St. Louis would have though the Phantom II would still be a combat plane in 2012 back in the day? The F-4 is like the B-52 of the fighter world. I know Japan, Israel, Greece & Iran have them. Any other users still?


blight January 31, 2012 at 11:22 am

Trying to decide if Germany is still using theirs.


Number_Six February 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm

South Korea still flies F-4s.


blight February 2, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Is Turkey still using their F-4's?


Quicksaber January 31, 2012 at 12:17 pm

All we have to do would just start flying missions near there air space and make them send up the planes and just have them chase us around for a while and place stress on the planes and crew and eat up the man power and spare parts. It will get to a point where they have to stop flying them just to keep them ready if we ever attack and by the time they figure out it is a real attack they will be sitting on the run way burning or they so far behind on the power curve we will be in and out before they are a threat. Just my 2 cents


Gringo Infidel February 1, 2012 at 8:39 am

Note that only 3 Iranian Tom's and 2 Iranian Phantoms are shown – perhaps the extent of all they have left that are 'flyable.' Certainly less than full mission capable.

Mostly Iran flies F-5's and Ex-Sov designed hand-me-downs from China.

Either way – all good missile bait.


PMI February 3, 2012 at 12:15 am

Why would they send up an entire squadron to escort the Russians?


TopgunGrad1986 February 1, 2012 at 11:51 pm

It doesnt take much to look up what Iran has in their inventory. Janes has pretty good estimates.
25 of 44 F14s
10 Mirage F1s (actually stolen from Iraq during Desert Storm)
25 Mig29s
65 F4s
75 F5s
5 Saeqehs (Iranian twin tail F5) with plans to build 24.
The F4s are being phased out


warchild February 2, 2012 at 1:18 am

Ahhhhhh yesssss to see those war-birds is so surreal that I forgot that the F-4 was replaced by the F-14. Those Russian birds would leave them behind if they weren't ordered to take it easy on those old veterans. And the Antronov cargo beast is beyond belief what a monster!


Davyd February 2, 2012 at 5:17 pm

That really is an awesome sight. Especially since the US retired their Tomcats. I really believe that the F-14s that Iran owns are not as bad off as we are led to believe. Especially with modern espionage the way it is.


Wojo February 3, 2012 at 8:28 am

Thanks for the sanity!


aholt February 16, 2012 at 7:55 pm

why are they escorting a russian airshow team?


blight_ February 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Don't want Russian aircraft flying where-ever willy-nilly. Or god forbid, into restricted airspace where they are promptly blown away.


tiger May 7, 2012 at 9:32 am

Those Sukhoi SU -27's are neat looking birds. I'm so tired of grey airplanes.


bevel450 January 30, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Beating the Libyan air force is just about the worst metric I can think of for supporting any bragging rights for any airplane ! Really, is that the best the Tomcat could do ?

I find one small irony in the history of the F-14, that only on one occasion did it fire the Phoenix missile in combat and that was with unknown results. ( I welcome an update/correction on this.)


TLAM Strike January 30, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Don’t forget the Iraqi air force. Iran’s tomcats are said to have wiped the floor with them.

Reports put the kill ratio as high as 160-1.


blight January 30, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Ironically many of the glowing combat reports of the F-14 come from Iran, which used them in pitched battle against Saddam. However, information from Iran is regarded as…sketchy. Except when it comes to how superior American hardware is versus export-grade Warsaw Pact hardware.

Anybody know if Shah-era hardware was dumbed-down for export? My read suggests that the Shah was essentially receiving line-grade equipment from the United States, a relationship shared with NATO/SEATO allies and Israel, and few others.


bevel450 January 30, 2012 at 4:48 pm


I did some research by way of the Wikipedia sites for the Phoenix and the F-14 as well as a former RIO. The only mention in W. of aircombat for the F-14 ( other than Libya) is the shoot down of an Iraqi helicopter in Desert Storm. For the most part it seems that they were used for dumping bombs and aircap

Should you have superior knowledge of the combat record of the F-14, you must put it in Wikipedia…..otherwise you're alleged wisdom is not worth a farthing.


Black Owl January 30, 2012 at 2:17 pm

I'm wondering if we'll see flames in those poses from the Flanker's side.


TLAM Strike January 30, 2012 at 2:19 pm

AIM-54s were fired in the Iran-Iraq war with many hits scored, incl. a 3 for one hit on a flight of MiG-23 Floggers.


bevel450 January 30, 2012 at 2:31 pm

You are correct re: the Phoenix missile system ( which needed a very large airframe to accomodate the Hughes radar and the officer needed to operate it) and the F-111.

But you can't dodge the fact that the airplane was hugely expensive to operate….too expensive compared to the low operating cost of the F-18. Even the Navy can recognize the economics of the situation so for anyone to plead "politics" as the reason for it's death is very erroneous.

But if you must, then do consider that all programs begin with politics as much as a real need.


William C. January 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Unless the MiG-23s were flying in some sort of parade flyover, I doubt that. A typical flight of aircraft never flies that close in the face of the enemy. The AIM-54 has a large warhead, but not that large.


William C. January 30, 2012 at 3:10 pm

What reports? That doesn't sound right. IIRC Iraq claimed at least 9 Tomcat kills.


Matrix3692 January 30, 2012 at 10:56 pm

160-1? man, that's got to have a good size chunk of propaganda in it (maybe even greater than the real thing), even the legendary beqqa valley is only 86-0 (base on Israeli reports, which i believe to have some amount of propaganda added). your statistic almost doubled that feat.


Lance January 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Already seen pics of both F-15s flying with both Fulcrums and Flankers over Alaska and Europe.


Amicus Curiae January 30, 2012 at 5:17 pm

OMG…"hugely expensive"…Too expensive for the US Navy to operate, but not too expensive for the Iranian AF… Huh? An economics decision… What? The US Navy operates aircraft carrier battle groups, which are a gargantuan expense. Given that overhead, doesn't it follow to have the most capable aircraft available taking up the space on the deck? Isn't it the reason for the deck in the first place? If the "economics of the situation" were an overriding concern, then what's up with the F-35C now? Remarkably, the US Navy decided they did not need (want?) F-14 or A-6 capability anymore. They ceded the job to the Air Force after the Dorito debacle, and settled for Rhinos, itself an admission that the F-18 was too small. They simply gave up capability. When things don't make sense, look for the sinister. There was some kind of power struggle behind it that was not motivated by military capability. Yes, the reason for it's death is very erroneous. What was the reason?


Atomic Walrus January 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Exactly what options do you suppose the Iranians had other than to continue operating the F-14? They were pariahs to most of the Western world, and were one of the few places that considered the Soviets an enemy as well.
Funny you mention having the most capable aircraft occupy deck space – that was exactly why the USN favoured the F/A-18 over the A-7, A-6, and F-14. Each of the other designs had some attributes that the F/A-18 couldn't match, but none of them could provide the whole range of roles as well as the F/A-18. There's nothing sinister about it – it's just post-Cold War economics.


Mastro January 30, 2012 at 6:21 pm

"They simply gave up capability. When things don't make sense, look for the sinister. There was some kind of power struggle behind it that was not motivated by military capability. Yes, the reason for it's death is very erroneous. What was the reason?"

They gave up long range interception because the Somalis don't have many interceptors and the Russians let their navy rust at harbor.

Remember they kept the F14 until about 2000- by then the Russians had mothballed almost everything and the Chinese were still making rubber dog poo.

The F18 was an OK gap filler until the F35 came along.

It probably still will be unless the Chinese build 500 stealth planes like that nut on these boards wants


JRL January 30, 2012 at 8:26 pm

If I send a bomb to someone's house via FedEX, who do ya think is gonna be held responsible for the boom?


JRL January 30, 2012 at 8:32 pm

TOWs AND Hawk SAMs, more accurately…


TLAM Strike January 30, 2012 at 9:50 pm


I saw one once and I thought it was a joke disk or something at first.


blight January 30, 2012 at 11:09 pm

I heard about them before, but am too young to have seen them in person. Only young enough to know five and a quarter…which says a lot, cause those toddlers don't even know what a 3.5 is, let alone Zip, Ditto or Jazz drives.


enoel January 30, 2012 at 11:13 pm

I remember being amazed that the Shah was getting his F-14s ahead of the US Navy. Iran did not get a special export version.


joe January 31, 2012 at 3:20 am

The destroyers for the Shah were definitely redesigned (since they had massively good A/C and ended up in the USN order of battle for the first Gulf war, this turned out to be a good thing). Not sure about the aircraft.


JRL January 31, 2012 at 12:31 am

Nice shot. But the IAF wasn't what I was expecting :o)


Rabbit January 31, 2012 at 12:36 am

Oh my god, I remember Zip drives. I thought they were hot stuff back in the day because they could carry orders of magnitude more stuff than your standard 3.5. Back when it was an ordeal to download anything over 20mb.


JRL January 31, 2012 at 12:40 am

Yep. That's the one.



tiger January 31, 2012 at 1:12 am

Just beacuse they pray to Allah does not mean they can not crack a book. There are other folks with brains in world.


tiger January 31, 2012 at 1:26 am

F-18, Jack of all trades, master of none.


blight January 31, 2012 at 8:38 am

All with export grade avionics, most likely. Now that Iran is putting together their indig electronics industry, they are likely augmented, but not necessarily ahead of the United States.

Then again, I wonder if Pakistan sent an export-grade F-16 to Iran, or perhaps demos of their electronics. Wouldn't be totally impossible, now would it?


Lance January 31, 2012 at 3:57 pm

I knew the Hornet lover would come screaming to attack LOL (joke).

Thing is that Yes the A-7 and A-6 could be fairly replaced by the Hornet. BUT the fleet is far far less protected with all Hornets compared to a Hornet and Tomcat mix. With out the AIM-54 Chinese or Russian Bomber will not be threatened and can release cruise missiles well out of range of the Hornets AMRAAM missiles.

As for the crew argument sorry to say the Navy went to two seat Hornets as well only a small number of one seater Es where made before the two seater F model replaced it. The Growler also is a two seater so the argument doesn't hold water. As for maintenance look at other military planes there is no way the US military worries over maintenance costs. the B-1B the U-2 and the F-35 all have alot higher cost than Tomcat had.

As per F-14F vs F-18E the F-14F has longer range carry more bombs and still could carry AIM-54 missiles. Way better than the Hornet ever was. This decision to scrap all Navy planes except for a all Hornet fleet came in the first Bush administration NOT the Clinton administration.


Dfens February 1, 2012 at 8:48 am

The F-18 could replace the A-6? In what world? The A-6 could carry 30,000 lbs of bombs and hit a target 1,000 miles away without refuling. The F-18 Sucker Fly can't get off the deck with 10,000 lbs of bombs and not have to hit a tanker before it gets out of sight of the ship. Hell, the F-18 wasn't even a good replacement for the A-4, which is a better fighter than the F-18 in additon to being a better attack plane.


Dfens February 1, 2012 at 8:58 am

The engines were too small for the intakes. The only way they could stay lit was for the variable geometry intake to operate as an air flow limiter.


Dfens February 1, 2012 at 6:23 pm

It's not my fault the Navy decide to replace the A-6 with that piece of crap. As for the A-4, it was the Blue Angel's show bird for years and the "F" model was one of the best of the aggressors in Top Gun for the Navy (the school and the movie). It's kicked ass in the Middle East for the Israelis during several of their wars.


PMI February 3, 2012 at 12:02 am

Unfortunately (or I guess fortunately for Iran's enemies) most of them were purged from the Iranian AF after the Ayatollah rose to power.


blight February 3, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Many professionals were purged from all arms of the Iranian military. The fact that the military stood aside and refused to kill civilians should've protected their careers. Oh well.


Amir May 7, 2012 at 7:03 am

yes im a iranian pilot. you are right. but iran army now working on jet fighters that iranian enginneers manufected. the new Saeghe is in way of manufact. new Saeghe is based on eurofighter design. and another Saeghe (S4) is based on F22 design. they are on way. and this manufacting is an answer to avoiding sale fighters to iran.


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