“F Arba Ashara! Yalla! Yalla!” In English, that’s “F-14! RUN! RUN!”. A common radio call for Iraqi fighter pilots in the Eighties.
The Tomcat made its combat debut during Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of American citizens from Saigon, in April 1975. F-14As from Fighter Squadron 1 (VF-1) and VF-2, operating from the USS Enterprise (CVN-65), flew combat air patrols over South Vietnam to provide fighter cover for the evacuation route. Tomcats of the U.S. Navy shot down two Libyan Su-22’s on 19 August 1981.
But Iranian F-14’s had been blasting Iraqi MiGs out of the sky since September, 1980.
- 7 September, 1980- The First Kill. Five Iraqi Mil-25 helicopters penetrated Iranian airspace to raid border outposts. They were escorted by MiG-25’s. While trading shots with the MiG-25’s (The Tomcats were armed with AIM-9P Sidewinders), the F-14’s pressed the attack on the helicopters destroying a Mil-25 with cannon fire. After that, the entire Iraqi formation fled back into Iraq and the Tomcats were ordered not to pursue. The name of the pilot that scored the first F-14 kill in history is still unknown and will probably remain so.
- 13 September, 1980– The first AIM-54 Phoenix killed was fired by Major Mohamed-Reza Attaie and destroyed an Iraqi MiG-23MS. This mission was flown with the AIM-54 to prove to the Iranian Clerical Leadership of the effectiveness of the Tomcat while they were considering selling the entire Tomcat fleet. After this engagement, the sale was cancelled and the F-14 “Shah’s Pilots” and ground crews were released from prison.
- 22 September, 1980- A pair of Tomcats lead by Captain Ali Azimi engaged a MiG-21RF escorted by two MiG-23’s. Two AIM-54’s were fired. The first one destroyed the MiG-21 and the other missed due to radar failure in Azimi’s jet. The MiG-23’s then fled the scene.
- 29 October, 1980- Operation SULTAN TEN was a deep Iranian strike on Iraqi airbases. Six F-4 Phantoms were escorted by two F-14’s. The strike was intercepted by four MiG-23’s and a pair of MiG-21’s. All six were shot down with no Iranian losses.
- 1 December, 1980- Tomcats of the 82nd TFS shot down three MiG 21’s in a single engagement.
- 7 January, 1981- Two F-14’s engaged four Iraqi MiG 23’s at a range of 30 miles with a single AIM-54 Phoenix. When the lead MiG exploded, debris damaged and downed two more MiGs. The fourth was seen hauling ass and trailing smoke. This is the only example of a “Triple Kill” with one missile in any combat of any air force in history.
- 20 November, 1982– Two Iraqi Generals decided to fly up to the front to find out why two Iraqi divisions had been wiped out. Flying in Mi-8 helicopters, they were escorted by another two Mi-8’s, a Mil-25 Hind gunship and no less than four MiG-21’s and four MiG-23’s. Two Tomcats lead by Captain Khosrodad were escorts a flight of F-4 Phantoms who were refueling from a KC-707 . The Phantoms had been beating the shit out the “missing” Iraqi division for days. Khosrodad’s AWG-9 lit up with the Iraqi formation approaching. Leaving his wingman to guard the Phantoms, Khosrodad dove in attack. Remembering the standing orders for Tomcats not to cross the border, he fired two AIM-54’s from 54 miles inside of Iran. Nearing the border, he fired two AIM-7 Sparrows for good measure. The first time the Generals knew they were under attack was when three fighters exploded and fell around them. An escorting Mi-8 pilot advised the VIP Mi-8 helicopter to leave the area immediately. The Inspection Tour of Generals Rasheed and Muhsen was over before it began.
- 1 December, 1982– Iraqi MiG-25’s developed “Anti-F-14” tactics (later used as “Anti-F-15” tactics against the Americans). These tactics and flying at 70,000 feet at Mach 3 stymied Iranian efforts to shoot them down. That is until Major Shahram Rostami (Major Mohammad Rafiee, REO) fired an AIM-54 at a Mig-25 at 70,000 feet and Mach 2.3. Engaging at 61 miles Rostami accelerated to Mach 1.5 and climbed to 45,000 feet. At a range of 34 miles he fired. It was just inside the radar envelope and as the time to impact counted down to zero the AWG-9 HIT symbol came on. AWACS confirmed the hit as the Foxbat plummeted into the sea.
- 26 February, 1984- A single Tomcat attacked an Iraqi strike formation of eight MiG-23’s. Scoring a kill with his AIM-54 and two more with AIM-9’s, the decimated Iraqis fled.
- 24 April, 1984- After four years of combat, Iranian Supreme Commander General Akbar Rafsanjani boasted: “Our Air force is now more potent than in the first days of the war. We have had no F-14 losses.” Tomcats had achieved air superiority but air supremacy. Even the Saudi Arabian Air Force warned its pilots not to enter areas where “F-14’s were THOUGHT to be operating”.
- 14 January, 1986- A Tomcat of the 8th TFW downs the first Mirage F-1EQ-5. The Exocet it fired was also shot down to add insult to injury.
- 26 July, 1986- The French supplied Super Etendards with Exocet anti-ship missiles to the Iraqis. The Iranians promptly shot the first one down with an AIM-54.
- 7 August, 1986- The Super Etendards return with one being shot down and the Exocet it had fired by a lone F-14.
Since the end of the war Iran has come out to say that one F-14 was shot down by an Iraqi MiG-21 (ATOLL Missile) while the Tomcat was experiencing engine problems.
11 August, 1984- Colonel Mohamed-Hashem All-e-Agha and his RIO Major Abolfalz Zerfati were shot down by an Iranian SAM over Kharg Island. Both were killed. Col. All-e-Agha was one of the original Tomcat instructors.
Iranian F-14 Tomcat Units in Combat (Combat Aircraft)