The F-14 Tomcat in Combat

“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.

First squadron of Iranian Pilots of F14 tomcats of Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force at Shiraz Air Base. September, 1979. The first Tomcat pilot to score a kill is unknown but probably in this picture.Left to Right, Back Row: ABBAS HAZIN, ??? ,MOHAMMAD HASHEM ALL-E- AGHA ( KIA 11 AUG 1984), HASSAN AFGHANTOLEE ABOLFASHI HOOSHIAR, ABOLFAZL MEHREGANFAR, ABBAS NEJADI ,HASSAN HARANDI (ejected 19th July 1988).


  • 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.

    Tanker support for Operation SULTAN TEN. October, 1980.
    Tanker support for Operation SULTAN TEN. October, 1980.
  • 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.

    IRAQI Mirage_F1EQ-5.
    IRAQI Mirage_F1EQ-5.
  • 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.
Iranian ace Jalil Zandi
Iranian ace Jalil Zandi is credited with shooting down 11 Iraqi aircraft during Iran–Iraq War and is the most successful F-14 pilot.


Colonel Mohamed-Hashem All-e-Agha

 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.



Information for this article was found in
Iranian F-14 Tomcat Units in Combat (Combat Aircraft)
by Tom Cooper and Chris Davey © 2012

Iranian Tomcats Get New Paint Job

F-14’s of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force could be sporting more than a new paint job. Back in 2007, The Lucky Puppy reported on the possibility that France might help Iran resurrect their Tomcat fleet. Follow this link:

Putin Says- “Pimp My MiG”


Iranian ace Jalil Zandi is credited with shooting down 11 Iraqi aircraft during Iran–Iraq War and is the most successful F-14 pilot.
Iranian ace Jalil Zandi is credited with shooting down 11 Iraqi aircraft during Iran–Iraq War and is the most successful F-14 pilot.

Since the 1979 embargo of F-14 parts, Iran has kept three of the 79 aircraft in the air.  The most infamous one was involved in the Iranian Airbus  Iran Air Flight 655 shoot down by the U.S.S. Vincennes in 1988.   In 2002 Iran announced that it had 25 out of 79 operational.  In 1985, 25 Iranian F-14s flew over Tehran as part of a celebration. In the last year of the war, 1988, an F-14 shot down an Iraqi jet, one of over 80 knocked down by their F-14s since 1980. That much is known, because there were witnesses and other evidence. Using Russian sources and smuggling parts into Iran were some ways it has been speculated that the Iranian Air Force accomplished this feat, To prevent parts getting into the black market, the U.S. literally cut up the U.S.  Tomcat fleet when the aircraft was taken out of service.  Most, if not all U.S. military aircraft wind up at the storage facility in Holloman, New Mexico. Not the Tomcat. In our 2007 post, we postulated that Iran was getting their Tomcats pimped by France as did Iraq with their MiG-25’s.  Consider this video produced by Iran.  It has been cobbled together from scenes of Iranian TV series ‘Shoghe Parvaz’ (The Delight of The Flight) and flight scenes from “Topgun” of all things. [youtube_sc url=”″]

Some Things I Spotted

  • You see six aircraft lined up on the apron.
  • Anyone can give AIM-54 shapes a new paint job and drag them around the flight line.
  • I count four moving under their own power.  Any crew chief will tell you that with enough effort,  any hangar queen or cann bird can taxi to the runway.
  • One scene shows that one Tomcat is filmed in flight from another Tomcat.  That’s two in the air at the same time.

In summer of 2010, Iran requested that the United States deliver the 80th F-14 it had purchased in 1974, but delivery was denied after the Islamic Revolution. In October 2010, an Iranian Air Force commander claimed that the country overhauls and optimizes different types of military aircraft, mentioning that Air Force has even installed Iran-made radar systems on the F-14. Best estimates is that the Iranians have three operational aircraft. No….wait.  On 26 January 2012, an Iranian F-14 crashed three minutes after takeoff. Both crew members were killed. That makes the Iranian Tomcat fleet……two.

F-14-IRIAF 2012
Snazzy new paint job on the outside but what nasty surprises for American airmen are on the inside?

You might want to read:

Iran Unveils Fifth Generation Fighter

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