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Bluffer's Guide - Fortress Iran Part 2, Air Power

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    Bluffer's Guide - Fortress Iran Part 2, Air Power

    Vanlig disclaimer: Dette er Planeman fra sitt arbeid, ikke mitt. Alt som står her er simpelthen copy-paste fra meg og står her "as is".
    Jeg kan ikke lastes for ting her som eventuelt medfører feil og husk at dette er basert på åpne kilder og at informasjonen her antageligvis ikke er rykende fersk.
    Originalarbeidet hans og oversikt over de forskjellige guidene finnes på denne linken:

    Bluffer’s Guide: Fortress Iran 2, Iranian Air Power
    I cannot catalog the whole Iranian air force (IRIAF)/Revolutionary Guard’s Air Force (IRCG-AF), so I will concentrate on the indigenous programs and a couple of main combat types.

    Iran has a modestly sized but relatively fragmented inventory. On the one hand reports that the legacy Western types were all but grounded due to spares shortages is plainly overstated, the fleets are all the same not at original strength.

    Operational Combat aircraft:
    MiG-29A/UB Fulcrum (40) –Air defence
    F-14A Tomcat (~20) –Air defence
    Mirage F-1EQ (ex Iraqi) (12) – Fighter bomber
    F-4D/E Phantom – II (~50) – Fighter bomber
    F-5A/B/E/F Tiger/II (~50) –Fighter bomber
    Su-24 Fencer (24) -Interdiction
    Su-25 Frogfoot (IRGC-AF) (13) –Close support
    F-7M Airguard (24) –Air defence
    AH-1J Cobra –Attack helicopter

    In general terms Iran’s air force is modernizing at a slower rate than most of its neighbors in the middle east region. Across the Gulf, Iran faces off against F-15s, late model F-16s, Mirage 2k5 and now Eurofighter Typhoons. Although Iran does have a BVR capability, it lacks a ‘modern’ BVR missile in the AMRAAM class. There are rumors that Iran may purchase F-10 fighters from China, or Su-27 fighters from Russia to redress the gap but these do not appear to have materialized. A more common claim seems to be that Iran’s indigenous fighter programs are entering service. Iranians are rightly proud of the accomplishments of their aero-engineers against a backdrop of sanctions, but in all fairness Iranian aero-technology is nowhere near the maturity of other countries and claims of Iranian super-fighters are farfetched to say the least.

    F-14A Tomcat
    Iran received F-14A Tomcats just before the fall of the Shah’s regime. The aircraft are reported to have been quite successful in the Iran-Iraq war but operational numbers have dropped as years of attrition and spares shortages bite – however Iran has kept a good number flying. My estimate is of a combat ready fleet of about 40 aircraft. Because of shortages of US made Phoenix long range missiles Iran has adapted the locally produced Hawk SAM as an AAM under the name Sedjeel:

    The Sedjeel has a likely range of about 60km.

    Analysis of F-14As present at visible on Google Earth suggests significant numbers remain active (satellite imagery on,ly catches aircraft outside their hangers so these figures are the tip of the iceberg. But they do confirm significant activity):
    Esfahan AB
    23rd July 2002: 3
    21st April 2004: 4
    13th September 2006: 6
    14th October 2007: 4
    25th January 2008: 0
    Mehrabad AB (deep maintenance unit)
    23th February 2000: 1
    10th January 2004: 3
    8th April 2004: 4
    21st August 2004: 2
    23rd November 2004: 1
    4th June 2005: 0
    22nd August 2005: 2
    30th May 2008: 4
    Bushehr AB
    21st May 2004: 1
    29th April 2005: 2

    Iranian F-14s may have received modest upgrades but there is no supporting evidence to support tales of Russian engines or radars. The Phoenix stocks are by all accounts low and Iran has adapted the semi-active radar guided Hawk SAM missile, which it reverse engineered and now produces, as an AAM under the name Sedjeel.

    MiG-29 Fulcrum
    Iran operates a modest fleet of this capable fighter. The models in Iranian service are middle-of-the-road as far as MiG-29 export models go, having the capability to operate the potent AA-11 Archer missile but not the AA-12 Adder. It honestly surprises me that Iran hasn’t either upgraded the Fulcrums with newer radars and AA-12, or purchased more advanced Fulcrums.

    F-4 Phantom II
    Iran purchased considerable numbers of F-4D and F-4E Phantom II fighters from USA. The ultimate 1970s multi-role fighter, these are now probably operated as fighter-bombers. Some have undergone various modifications, including tanker conversions, but are most noteworthy for their involvement in Iran’s many air-launched missile programs. Unlike the F-14 Iranian Phantoms retain the 1970s camouflage theme rather than the more recent tan/blue combos.

    Other fighters
    Iran operates large numbers of F-5A Tiger and F-5E Tiger II fighters. Additionally a small number of Chinese MiG-21 based F-7M AirGuard fighters were purchased. These are apparently operated by the Guards (IRGC-AF) in the air-defence role although they are widely regarded as inferior and obsolete. Iran also received a significant number of Iraqi aircraft which fled there during Gulf War 1. Of these many were placed in storage but 12 Mirage F-1 fighters were put into service. These are employed in the air-ground role, where they are still a credible and formidable force.


    The most contentious Iranian program is the Safagh program. The Safagh is based on the Russian MiG-ATF project (and related developments/concepts) and features a distinctive ‘saucer’ wing. The type is a very modern design and can be loosely compared to the Indian LCA or Chinese FC-1 types. Some even compare it, with some justification, to the F-35. Despite some radar cross-section reducing features the Safagh certainly isn’t a truly stealthy design however. The design is mostly likely intended as a supersonic advanced trainer and a single-seat light fighter to replace the F-5, F-7M and Mirage F-1 types in Iranian service. The Safagh was built at least as far as a very nicely finished wooden mock-up but there is no evidence of a flying prototype let alone operational jets.

    Another consistent theme is the mystery fighter whose model is sometimes shown in public. This design is generally 1970s in nature and may be related to the F-18 (the plans of the YF-17 Iran allegedly got in the 1970s). The aircraft appears to be single engine but features a wide box-like rear fuselage. Large twin fins resemble the Su-27’s. The forward fuselage is slab-sided (terrible for RCS) and the cockpit appears almost squashed.

    I do not believe this type ever enter production, probably representing a 1990s program which was quickly shelved when Russia shared MiG-ATF technology

    Iran builds and/or extensively re-manufactures F-5s under the name Azarakhsh. These are most likely conversions and include early model F-5As and more recent F-5Es, as well as F-5Fs. There is no appreciable improvement over the F-5. Some F-5As, possibly 2, where rebuilt as two-seat F-5B trainers and are known as Simorgh. Azarakhsh tend to be painted in a very nice dark green with Yellow shark motive on the fin.

    At least one has been built with a completely new wing arrangement, featuring a mod-set wing with larger leading edge extension over the intake. The elevators have also been moved and there are some minor tweaks elsewhere. This is most likely an experimental type, possibly related to the Safagh.

    A more ambitious development of the F-5 is the Saeqeh. At least four have been built but only three have been shown off at any one time.


    There are two distinct versions, with two of each known:
    ‘A’ (above).
    . Twin fins are mounted on a large composite bracket which extends past the tail.
    . The air intake is squared. Contrary to popular comments, I do not believe that the intake is significantly larger than the F-5’s.
    . There is a tiny V shaped tray under the radome.
    . The cockpit canopy may be marginally more ‘bubble’ like than the regular F-5 one.

    ‘B’ (not drawn)
    . much less extreme modification. Only twin tails are noticeably different from original F-5. These are mounted on much less ‘well finished’ brackets.

    Most observers comment that the square-intake version is more recent and represents the production type. I differ, believing that the less radical version is more likely the production type – maybe the other features didn’t prove worthwhile investments. Either way, it’s not farfetched to believe that this type is entering operational service.

    The Tazarv trainer is an interesting design using mostly composite construction and a single turbojet borrowed from the F-5 type. The design is very distinctive and clearly 100% Iranian. The design has some odd features with a long nose and small cockpit canopy. Several have been built and at least one has flown with redesigned air intakes. The type can carry light weaponry and is probably intended as a basic trainer.

    The Tazarv was preceded by the Dorna, ironically a more conventional design. It was only ever a prototype:

    Iran often names its indigenous air-launched weapons after attributes that are highly regarded in the Iranian military.

    Iranian AWACs
    Iran got at least two AEW/AWACs aircraft from Iraq during GW1. The first is a Baghdad-1 type, a conversion of an Il-76 transport by putting a French made radar in the rear cargo ramp. This gives a very limited surveillance arc and means that the aircraft has to fly away from the target direction.

    The other AEW converted Il-76 Iran got was the far more credible Adnan type, featuring the same French radar but in a conventional rotodome above the fuselage for 360 degree coverage. This was inactive for several years as Shiraz AB but is now operational.

    Iran has renamed the Adnan with an Iranian name, Simorgh (confusingly as per the F-5B conversion mentioned above). The Iraqi origin is still evident in the uncharacteristic slanted tail flash (which used to be the Iraqi flag).

    The Baghdad AEW is impossible to discern from a regular Il-76 in this image but the ID is confirmed by other photographs:

    If Iran deploys indigenous AEW platforms it will most likely be on an Iran-140 turboprop platform:

    Iranian helicopter production
    Iran manufactures various reverse-engineered US designed Bell helicopters. The most notable is the AH-1 Cobra gunship, but most curious was a 1980s project to make a light scout/attack helicopter based on the Bell 206 Jet ranger:

    The type never entered service.
    Lignende tråder


    Air Platforms

    Analysis - Iranian fighter programmes: Bona fide or bluff?

    Gareth Jennings, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
    03 March 2015

    Over recent years, Iran has made great play of its burgeoning domestic aerospace capabilities by revealing a number of 'new' combat aircraft types to the world.
    For about the last five years, state media has heralded a steady stream of new fighters and other types which, it claims, demonstrate the Islamic republic's ability to design, develop, and manufacture the latest generation of combat aviation.

    As such, it would seem that Iran's recent fighter pronouncements have been, and will continue to be, based on a combination of real-world capabilities spliced with a hefty dose of bluff for domestic and international consumption.



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