PERSIAN TOMCAT
Scale Aircraft Modelling|January 2022
Fighters in the First Gulf War
Alireza Beigi

Five years before the 1979 revolution transformed Iran, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a pilot who had earned his wings in 1946 flying a British Tiger Moth, arranged for Iran to purchase eighty Grumman F-14A Tomcats and 633 Hughes AIM-54 Phoenix missiles for $2 billion. The Iranian deal is credited with saving the F-14 programme, which Congress had stopped funding, and by some with saving the Grumman Corporation from bankruptcy. As a consequence Iran became the only country besides the United States to fly the big fighter. In the 1970s Iran needed an air superiority fighter that could end incursions into its airspace by Soviet MiG-25Rs, which flew too high for the IIAF’s F-4s and F-5s, but the F-14 was more than up to the job. By 1979, 120 pilots and radar intercept officers of the Iranian Imperial Air Force (IIAF) had been trained in the United States and Iran, with 100 additional personnel still in training. Simultaneously, maintenance technicians were trained, at Pratt & Whitney and Hughes, on the engines, avionics, and weapons systems.

The Iran–Iraq War was an armed conflict that commenced on 22 September 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran, and ended on 20 August 1988, when Iran accepted the UN-brokered ceasefire. It was widely reported in the press at the time as ‘The Gulf War’, a name subsequently re-deployed after 1991.

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