Iran: Satellites and Tomcats



04-Jan 2020: With the U.S. killing in Iraq of a top Iranian military leader, Qassem Soleimani using American armed drones, the IRIAF immediately scrambled two F-14AM aircraft. No further details on IRIAF activity are yet available. What happens now is anyone's guess. The IRIAF may try to knock down U.S. drones in the region from Iranian airspace. 
[Below] Since the time of our original writing in 2009 a number of new images have appeared. This very clear photo of IRIAF F-14 Tomcats surfaced in early June 2013:
Also, since our original writing in 2009 IRIAF F-14s have apparently also been very active in downing numerous foreign drones operating in and near Iranian airspace (including Khark island) since 2006.

[Above] Iranian F-14AM painted in a new edged-three-tone Asian Minor II color scheme. The photograph appeared around mid-March 2013. Remarkable. This aircraft has produced some confusion with regard to precise aircraft serial numbers - however, there is no evidence of new engines replacing the original Pratt-Whitney TF30s.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) 16-Jun 2011: Iran sent its second domestically made satellite into orbit. Their first satellite was launched in 2009. With that event, in 2009, we wrote then about Iran's very-much-still-alive Grumman F-14 Tomcats.


[Above] Excellent images of Iranian Tomcats in new blue-gray color schemes. Iranian F-14s have spent most of their lives out of public view - even in Iran.

With the retirement of the Grumman F-14 Tomcat from US Navy service, Iran is now the sole operator of this powerful fighter-interceptor.

Iran still operates approximately forty (40) F-14A-GR Tomcats (possibly new designation 'F-14AM' in IRIAF service, F-14AM = F-14A Modernization), and reports suggest Iran has over one-hundred, (100) new reverse-engineered (re-engineered) indigenous AIM-54 "Phoenix" air-to-air missile rounds called Fakour-90 to arm them.
Reportedly F-14AM has new ECM (electronic counter measures) system, new RWR (radar warning receiver), new INS (Inertial navigation system integrated w/ GPS), and Multifunction Liquid Crystal Displays for pilot and the WSO. Also, it reportedly can carry a wide range of US, Iranian, Chinese, and Russian air-to-air missile rounds - including R-73E, AIM-54A+ (designated Fakur-90), AIM-54A, AIM-7E-4, AIM-9J, and MIM-23C.
The AIM-54 Phoenix missile weighs over 1,000 lb (454 kg) each, and Tomcat can theoretically direct six (6) of these massive Phoenix rounds (launched nearly simultaneously) at six separate aerial targets. After launch, the Phoenix climbs to ~80,000 feet and accelerates to Mach 4+ then drives down on its target using kinetic energy, activates it own terminal-phase ‘active-radar' seeker to find and then detonate its enormous warhead near the target.
After 30 years, the aircraft seem to be in fine shape.
Due to this climbing, high altitude, acceleration "kinetic" launch profile, with respect to engagement ranges of current U.S. air-to-air missiles, the AIM-54 is today still - without equal.
The resourcefulness of the Iranians to keep their Tomcats airworthy (since the mid-1980s), can no longer be a subject of speculation by the Western defense community.
We would simply add that most (if not all) in the Western and American intelligence establishment, had for the last 25-30 years, insisted that Iran could not (could never) maintain her Tomcat fleet and its complex systems and weapons. In 2004, material published out of the United Kingdom (authors Tom Cooper / Farzad Bishop) would shatter these Western assertions - and their research has stood the test of time without issue, despite a ceaseless barrage of American attempts at dismissal since publication. It is now clear that those in the West who clung to erroneous analysis, are party to one of the greatest military intelligence failures in modern history.
[Above] Iranian F-14As with functional ‘glove vanes.’ These ‘vanes’ were deleted on later versions of USN Tomcats (F-14B and D models), citing excessive complexity and maintenance issues. Functioning F-14A ‘vanes’ on Iranian aircraft is consistent with research conducted by Tom Cooper and Farzad Bishop, chronicling that Iran has since mastered the many technologies that come together in the Grumman F-14A Tomcat, particularly after the Iran-Contra scandal.
Iranian F-14s with functional vanes should give IRIAF Tomcats enough control authority (as the vanes unload the tailplanes at higher Mach numbers) to pull 7.5 g at Mach 2+. How this translates into militarily useful capability in a confrontation with the United States - is unknown. 

[Below] Another remarkable series of photographs of IRIAF F-14s escorting the ‘Russian Knights’ display team across Iranian airspace. The Russian Su-27 display team returning from the 2012 Bahrain Air Show.
In late 1986, the Pentagon’s Joint Intelligence Group, the CIA, Grumman engineers, the US-Navy, and the FTD (the Pentagons Foreign Technologies Division) conducted an evaluation of 132 F-14 parts, along with nine (9) cases of  Iranian Tomcat parts – the goal being to determine if Iran was capable of manufacturing F-14 parts; or was paying someone to do so; and if so - who? The results of the meeting concluded that Iran was in fact, manufacturing replacement parts for its F-14A-fleet.
It is important to remember that since IRIAF F-14s operate from runways. Iranian Tomcat airframes were never subjected to the pounding of US-Navy catapult launches and arrester hook landings. This can dramatically extend airframe lifetime(s) - particularly for a naval aircraft designed for such punishment - as the Grumman F-14 Tomcat indeed was.
Iran would have little use for tired ex-US-Navy F-14A or F-14B Tomcat airframe parts?
[Above] This retired USN F-14D likely has many more years of useful service life?
Iranian F-14s in the foreground and F-4E Phantom IIs beyond.

During the Bush II administration, the US Department of Homeland Security’s “Operation Fools Gold” agents posed as “Iranian arms-buyers” trying to purchase items on US commodity control list(s). US-DHS claimed to have intercepted illegal attempts to ship aircraft (F-14, F-4, F-5) parts to Iran. Whether Iran has (had) any use for such items appears at best - dubious. Judging from the functional ‘glove vanes' on Iranian F-14A Tomcats, and the fact that Navy F-14 variants ('B' and later 'D') without (without) functional glove vanes appeared as early (as early) as 1988, it would appear that Iran - did not.
[Above] A sea of retired American F-4 Phantom IIs which Iran also operates. No F-4 (or F-5) manufacturing dies are destroyed or aircraft shredded. Why?

"Fools Gold” therefore is relegated to an internal U.S. matter – not a geopolitical national security issue. While we are no friend of the Iranian regime, unfortunately, the bulk of national security assertions by the Bush II administration has proven (the Office of Special Plans, WMD 2003 Iraq Invasion, Abu Ghraib), an endless series of falsehoods, and recklessness.





[Above] The sheer size of the AIM-54 Phoenix missile round is apparent (USN). [Below] is the latest photo of  the re-engineered / reverse-engineered AIM-54A+ developed in Iran designated 'Fakur-90.'
Iranians were originally offered the F-15A Eagle as well, but Iran recognized early that the F-15 was simply no match for the F-14s combination of AWG-9 radar and Phoenix missile.
[Above] Another remarkable photo showing extended (and functional) glove vanes of this F-14A-GR just ahead of wing roots.

With the fall of the Shah, the United States Navy instructed its Naval Test Research Center at Point Mugu, California to develop ECM (electronic countermeasures) aimed at defeating the AIM-54As sold to Iran. The USN also pushed hard for an upgraded AIM-54B and it was rushed into USN service to subsequently suffer from poor build quality. Reports of departing U.S. technicians sabotaging the bulk of the Iranian F-14 fleet and her AIM-54s – is not accurate - and only a few Phoenix rounds were degraded - and all were eventually repaired.
The first (the first) AIM-54 kill under actual combat conditions (in the world) occurred on 13-Sept 1980 against an Iraqi MiG-23MS - this after the IRIAF High Command authorized commanders of the 81st TFS at FTB 8 to use the Tomcat and AIM-54 Phoenix in combat to demonstrate the effectiveness of the aircraft to the clerical leadership in Tehran – who at the time was considering selling the entire Tomcat fleet (back to the Americans). The Iraqi fighter crashed a few kilometers inside the Iranian border.

Best available research using non-American sources (as American and Israeli Air Force sources can be unreliable) have concluded that over 130 Iraqi aircraft were downed (with an additional 23 probable) by Iranian F-14 Tomcats during the Iran-Iraq war; with over forty (40) of these using the AIM-54 Phoenix missile.
This means the twenty (20) year air-combat record of the F-15 'Eagle' was exceeded in eight (8) years by the F-14. Iranian Tomcats literally faced thousands of  Iraqi airstrikes during the Iran-Iraq War. Indeed, Iranian F-14 crews were to fight more aerial engagements than both the USAF and US-Navy combined during Vietnam.

IRIAF aircrews would not hesitate to take the Tomcat into combat even if the aircraft's AWG-9 had broken down. They would simply use the F-14s Vulcan 20mm gun and arm the aircraft with AIM-9P Sidewinders. Many victories during the Iran-Iraq War were scored this way.
Iranian F-14 pilots would also become highly proficient at properly employing the Tomcat high-AOA (high Alpha) maneuver (considered too dangerous by the USN) which enabled Iranian F-14s to survive and down Iraqi aircraft, even if heavily (heavily) outnumbered. Just as often IRIAF Tomcat crews would simply enter the tightest turn possible at near stall speeds, force Iraqi aircraft to overshoot, then throttle up in behind their opponent and make the kill. Remarkable.
"Yeah they did... they kicked the **** out of the Iraqis in the '80-'88 war, I was an instructor Tomcat RIO there from '75-79. Taught them everything they know." - the 'Goo' in Iran, 1977

Note that Iranian Tomcats do not have the chin IR sensor like their USN brethren. Iran did not order the then available AN/ALR-23 IR sensor, electing to wait for the improved Northrop AAX-1 (TCS). However, after the 1979 Iranian revolution, all F-14 support was halted by the U.S.
Iran was to get a reprieve in F-14 support during the Iran–Contra scandal in the mid-1980s under the Reagan Administration. Iran was able to acquire all manner of advanced Tomcat, AWG-9, and AIM-54 Phoenix missile part(s) and system(s) support. The Iranians seized at this opportunity to reverse engineer this windfall of functional components and sub-systems, so that after the early 1990s, Iran reportedly had “resolved permanently” their Tomcat-fleet parts and maintenance issues.

Here is a rare (four-part) 1977 Grumman promotional film during Project Persian King - the delivery and training to Iran of their F-14A-GR Tomcats:










[Below] When these photos first appeared in the Western press, there was surprise and bewilderment. Iranian F-14A-GR with two MIM-23B ‘I-Hawk’ missiles (foreground) during 'Project Sky Hawk' trials. Oddly this program had Israeli assistance (as the US-supported Iraq during the war), although Israeli personnel were allowed only limited access to one aircraft and were barred from live-fire tests. 
Interestingly, Iranian RF-4 and F-4E Phantom IIs participated in "joint" Iranian-Israeli operations which would lead to successful attacks on the Iraqi nuclear reactor, first by Iranian jets from TFB-3 on 30-Sept 1980, and then by Israeli jets on 06-Jun 1981. The Iranians did not target the main reactor (hitting other key buildings at the site) because of radiation release concerns. This successful IRIAF penetration strike of the Iraqi nuclear facility has been all but forgotten by Western analysts and the Western press. Another reason to remain wary of Israeli and American neoconservative assertions of "acceptable risk(s)" in striking Iran. 
As of 2012 (since the time of the original writing) IRIAF Tomcats are known to operate with MIM-23B rounds or MIM-23 bodies with unknown internals called "Sedjil". Both MIM-23 and 'Sedjil' may have hand-off-to-ground-station targeting capability after weapon release.
There has been (further) speculation that Russia was assisting Iran in upgrading its F-14 fleet with new radars, engines, missiles, and canopies, however, these reports appear erroneous. Considering the fact that during Iran’s purchase of MiG-29 and Su-24, Iran did not allow Russian personal anywhere near their F-5s, not to mention their F-14s. There is no evidence to support Western claims that airworthy Iranian Tomcats were handed over to Russia after the 1979 revolution for evaluation and testing.

During the Iran-Iraq war, Iraq did ship two (2) American AIM-9P Sidewinder missile rounds off a defecting Iranian F-5 to Russia for analysis - and may be the source of the F-14 rumors. However, during the war, some wreckage of one or two Iranian F-14s may have found their way to the Soviets.
The F-14 was not without its problems. The TF30 engines were prone to compressor stall under certain conditions and pilots had to "fly the engines." Iran opened private negotiations with Pratt and Whitney in 1976 to address or replace, but after 1979, Iran has had to make do with the TF30 to this day. Also, its AWG-9 radar was designed for over-water operation, radar performance was not optimum for ultra-low altitude targets over land. It should also be noted that operating costs for an aircraft are directly proportional to take-off weight.

Note that the port-side nose number appears to be covered from the view of the camera crew?


But the F-14 remains an impressive machine. During dogfight exercises at low-level, the F-14 always beat the F-15, the F-16, and also out-flew the MiG-29 (reportedly the reason Iran ordered so few MiG-29s).


[Below] Iran has been exceedingly resourceful in keeping their Tomcats flying.
The Iranian Tomcat is surely one of the most intriguing topics in aviation. Tom Cooper / Farzad Bishops 2004 Osprey material has become the seminal reference on the F-14 in Iranian service and offers unparalleled visibility-insight into the entire geopolitical picture (of all state actors) from the 1970s to today. A remarkable work.


Perhaps the number of people that still insist that the Iranian fleet of F-14s are nothing more than rusting, sun-bleached carcasses - is the most telling of all.

Due to countless upgrades and improvements done in Iran proper, the true capability of the Iranian F-14 fleet is likely to be difficult, (as in the past) to assess with certainty?


Your thoughts?

- All media found here is for scholarship and research purposes and protected under U.S. Internet ‘Fair Use’ Law - some photos 'airliners.net'

Comments

  1. The F-14A was underpowered with the TF30s; in practice that means it will carry only 4 AIM-54s maximum.

    Swapping in a Russian radar would create fascinating interface issues if attempting to employ AIM-54s, while maintaining the AWG-9s and other electronics required poses challenges of their own.

    Iranian ingenuity in keeping its F-14s operatinal cannot be denied. The deeper question is: operational at what capability? That is not publicly known. Given the CIA's focus (or lack thereof), I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't know, either.

    Finding and whacking opponents like Iran's Tomcats is, of course, a perfect job for the F-22...

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  2. There are a couple more facts that need to be addressed.

    First, the AIM-54 Phoenix was only fired once in anger, and both of the missiles that were launched fell into the sea halfway to their targets (at only 50 miles, compared to the claimed range of 100 miles); the Tomcats then engaged and destroyed their targets with Sidewinders. There's also the revelations of it's lack of reliability in the Hughes Missile Scandal to consider;
    http://www.american-buddha.com/lit.pentagonists.12.htm

    Second, the Tomcat HAS in fact been defeated in exercises by F-16s, and even F-5s, contrary to the above claim that it "...always beat the F-15 the F-16..." --- and defeated so massively that the majority of the aggressor forces were the ONLY SURVIVORS; http://www.network54.com/Forum/135069/thread/1089498118/1094314078/Is+The+US+Navy+Overrated-

    That's not meant to be an attack on the Tomcat, but rather to point out that it's advantages are not as massive as they would seem.

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    1. Raptors where beaten by F-18 EF , EF-2000 Typhoon & Franch Rafale ..and ???? So yes F-14 where beaten by F-16 and F-5 flown by much experienced pilots , adversary TOPGUN instructors or USAF top notch pilots , doesn't mean anything . But most of the time the Cat eat the Eagle , Vipers and basically everything they throw at her so yes generally the TOMCAT was The Killer up there . well that fiasco with USN AM54s what I have herad that was due to some battery issues , old stock or something and yes they didn't score any kills for USN , however the Iranians on the contrary used them very efficient and as far I know they scored the longest PH kill as well as the shortest distnace kill , also Iranians claim that they scored a TRIPLE kill with a single PH . Apparently one F-14A engaged a group of 3 MIGs not sure which one 21, 23 doesn't matter which flew a very close and tight formation , once the PH was fired and hit the lead of the group the explosion and debris took down the other two fighters as well.

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    2. Firstly, F-14A mopped the floor with the F-15A during the AIMEVAL/ACEVAL in 1978 so much so that the final report gave a 2:1 advantage against the F-15A. Also, the kill ratio of F-14A was 2.55:1 against the F-5E. Also, F-16N were far superior to USAF F-16 since they were only meant for training as aggressors and much lighter. They were stripped out of everything except ejection seats, block C/D F-16N had been made the lightest to give the best training to F-14 student pilots on how to defeat the MIG-29. Aggressor squadrons were always led by experienced pilots against students in F-14A. Put an ACE pilot in the F-14A and F-14 could maneuver with anything. There is even a video of an ACE/experienced pilot in F-14A engaged in a turning fight against both F-16N and Mongoose A4. Against the F-16N, the F-14 pilot executes such high left hand G forces, you can hear him wince in pain while doing the "hick". He eventually gets gun kill on both F-16N and Mongoose.

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    3. The triple kill was on a flight of 3 Mig-23's, the pilot detailed the engagement extensively at a forum here in the US. Approximately a dozen F-14AM's are airworthy at any one time, with an additional 2 dozen or so cycling through maintenance depot. The TF-30 may not be optimal, but the 414's weren't as prone to compressor stalls as the original motors and that's what the Iranian's fly. The biggest improvement has been in adding newer ECM/ECCM gear, coupled with the reduced weight of the Fakhour (750lbs, vs 1,000lbs for the Phoenix). This has resulted in better flight performance and related, range. More can be carried, although typical loadouts today are 2 Fakhour, 2 Sparrow and 2 Sidewinders. They tried integrating the R-27 and other Russian missiles, but were not successful. Likely due to a total mis-match between the weapon and (new) radar. Overall, the F-14 in Iranian service was the first practical example of the "First Look, First Shot, First Kill" mantra preached by today's USAF/USN. The aircraft remains a credible threat to American F/A-18 Super Hornets, but would likely fall quickly to advanced F-15 variants. Raptors would make very short work of them, but the bravery and tactics of Iranian pilots shouldn't be overlooked...

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  3. Hi Blacktail,
    Thanks for writing!

    The Cooper/Bishop material chronicles numerous Iranian AIM-54 shots that fail to hit their targets. Historical first-hand accounts going back including Vietnam indicate that average missile round hit probabilities for all AIM-7/9 series, under actual combat conditions - are best case - no greater than 50% (for all reasons). AIM-9P shots- more effective, AIM-9M shots - less effective. AIM-7M shots - more effective while earlier AIM-7 shots, much less. AIM-120 shots appear to be right in the distribution at roughly 50%.

    The Cooper/Bishop material describes Iranian F-14 crews reason for so their high number of air-combat victories during the Iran/Iraq War, concluding: “We trained with Navy [F-14] pilots who had “shot-down” UASF and Israeli F-15s and F-16 almost at will in exercises over the years. They trained us well. Later, we also out flew the much newer MiG-29s, which is IRIAF purchased in 1990 – that is why IRIAF bought only a few of them.”

    This statement would be consistent with the timeline of F-15A and F-16A deliveries to USAF and Israeli Air Force. Israel was a close Iranian ally during Iran/Iraq War and attempted to assist Iran with its F-14 ‘Project ‘Sky Hawk’ program.

    There is no doubt the F-14s TF30 engines were (are) a huge headache in both USN and Iranian service. In effect you must “fly the engines.”

    I can not speak to USAF/USN American DACT exercises claims or counter claims. The USAF F-15s and F-16s aircrew did experience repeated problems during Cope India exercises in 2004, 2005 and 2006, citing both the Indian Su-30Mk and MiG-21Ibis as a huge and nasty surprise for USAF crews. These exercises had been the first with India in over 40 years.

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  4. Hi Blacktail,

    It should be noted that after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and (again) after Iran-Contra scandal in particular, new USN AIM-54 versions were rushed into Navy service to counter all manner of sensitive Tomcat/AWG-9/Phonex electronics and sub-systems sold to Iran. Reportedly this rush caused build quality issues for "updated" Navy Phoenix rounds. The timeline for new Navy AIM-54 version in the mid-80s is constant with these events.

    - Boresight

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  5. Firstly nice new layout for your blog, much more readable.

    With talk about a strike by Israel on alleged Iranian Nuclear Weapons sites, what would be:

    1. The Logistical Demands for such an operation in terms of refueling of the fighters.
    2. The permissible area of operations of Israeli aircraft - they will most certainly have to fly through Iraqi airspace at the very least.
    2A) If assuming that they do not have permission, what are the Iraqi capabilities in terms of detecting and if need be intercepting Israeli aircraft in their airspace.
    2B) Given that Israeli would most certainly be using EW Aircraft in order to jam Iraqi radar, would this by definition tip off the Iraqis and the Iranians of an impending Israeli strike?
    3. Even assuming 100% certainty of the location of the myriad facilities in Iran, what is the possibility of Israel actually managing to penetrate these facilities to sufficient depth which will at the very least disable them?
    4. What about Iranian countermeasures other than SAMs and Interceptors - I read a few years back that the Iranians have also heavily invested in decoys - though this was in terms of armored units, SAM locations and fighters - surely this could just as easily be applied to facilities?

    Your thoughts?

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  6. We are highly skeptical of American claims about a Mexico/Iran plot.

    Having said that, any attack on Iran would look much like Odyssey dawn (Tomahawks and B2s). B2 would need some air tanker refueling, while Tomahawks would not.

    Also the consensus appears to be that Iranian theater-missiles (scud type) might be part of any Iranian response to an attack.

    We doubt the USN would try and operate carriers inside the (Persian) Gulf as an attack on Iran would see US battle groups on the receiving end of nearly everything there is in the Iranian arsenal.

    There has been increasing drone activity by the U.S. and others, which has resulted in Iranian interceptor downing several of them – now some drones require F-16 escorts.

    The current U.S. Defense secretary and head of the joint chiefs has already stated and attack on Iran could not guarantee a desired outcome that US politicians seek.

    - The Boresight

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  7. Could you provide a link to any information on the downed U.S drones by Iran? If this is true one wonders what is the tactical - let alone strategic value of drones in a conventional war between two state actors.

    Even setting aside the fact that Iran - while not even near peer status is terms of technology or economy - could be capable of attacking USN assets in the Gulf, what would a combined American / Israeli attack on Iran look like? Especially if the objective is to destroy purported nuclear sites.

    Incidentally - Would it be fair to say that one of the reasons that the Russians cancelled the S-300 Antiair missile system was because that the S-300 could be reverse engineered or modified by the Iranians to carry a WMD warhead and used in an offensive role?

    Thanks for your time and effort.

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    1. Iran already has ICBM technology...they put satellites into orbit for pete's sake. As far as nukes go, they could have those as well, but they don't want em.

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    2. Lol

      Any Iranian uranium or plutonium single stage nuke would weigh easily 2-4ton.

      Iranian ballistic missiles can barely carry 200-300kg 1000km.

      It would take around $500b plus no sanctions on importation surroundings nuclear and a good decade to develop using foreign tech a multi staged weapon that could fit one of their missiles.

      Under sanctions it would take probably 50-100 years.

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  8. This has been going on for years.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43819984/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/reports-us-drone-shot-down-over-iran-nuke-site/

    I would remind folks that the United States and Iran have been engaged in proxy and direct confrontation in the region since the Iran/Iraq war (which the US supported Iraq) beginning in 1980. Remember we had the USS Vincennes incident and Operation “Praying Mantis” in 1988. So drone incursions should not be giant-leap or even surprising?

    How Israel would make good on her threat to attack Iranian nuke plants - is still not clear to us.

    - The Boresight

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  9. Netanyahu flew to Russia in 2009 likely to discuss S-300.
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/meridor-confirms-netanyahu-visited-russia-this-week-1.8034

    If Iran can launch its own satellites (which it has done now twice), it would have no need to convert S-300s.

    - The Boresight

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  10. First of all a great article & here is a video from a mech. engineer to show how retractable vanes work. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hI0TVVT16IM
    Now coming top the points I must say that these vanes were put-off by US not because of complexity as the primary reason but because the F-14 was to be upgraded by F-15 ..& if this not be the case F-14 would be equipped by any upgraded & powerful engine that would provide greater AOA attacks.
    Regarding Iran; the domestic aviation industry isn't that TECHNICAL (as projected by this article). Our Pakistani engineers had been there & I MUST say that Iran in technical terms is getting aid by Pakistan/China/S.Korea.
    I willnt mention China as everybody knows that but Korea has provided us with great weaponry technology transfers & Iran must be getting them. No doubt that in near future they will get JF-17 & J-10 equipped with POLITICALLY FAVOURABLE arsenal of missiles & avionics....
    ...Again great & a different article

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  11. SeerSucker,

    All comments welcome. Thank you for your feedback!

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  12. Two articles on how an attack on Iran could play out:

    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/11/israel-bomb-iran-jammer/

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/11/16/israel-s-secret-iran-attack-plan-electronic-warfare.html

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  13. Again I think it is quite easy for Iran to defeat the strategic objectives of Israel by low tech and cheap means. Namely play the Old Shell Game. If you cannot be certain that you can defend your vital assets either by concealment or outright active defense, then saturate the battle scape with decoys and bogus targets - something that Iran seems to have already done by developing so many of these installations...

    "All warfare is based on Deception" - Sun Tzu

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  14. The official objective in dealing with Iran is to avoid direct military confrontation at all costs and peruse an ever stronger policy of COVERT ACTION, economic warfare, assassinations, luring the best a brightest to leave the country, and more... We want a strong internal resistance in Iran to overthrow the theocracy and

    the only way there will ever be a war on Iran is if we feel 100% that this objective cannot be achieved. A war with then doesn’t look good for anyone and will literally have little to no positives. You can expect a 1000 year grudge and no peace or stability in the region, ever. We want to go back to how it used to be, with Iran as a strategic ally AGAINST the Arabs who's resources we seek to colonize. But of course Iran has to cede some of their resources to us first.

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  15. It took over 30 years to make this aircraft beautiful which I think is the main reason why the air force should be very careful when conducting preventive maintenance.

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  16. I am no friend of the vile Islamic leaders of Iran BUT:

    Firstly a Great report.

    It was on YouTube via an Iranian news channel that the Iranians are now in the process of "replicating" the entire F14 and Mig23 aircraft. One thing that they still need to master is the new generation jet engine which defines the modern 5th generation jets. However, the sophistication of their avionics in comparison with an F22, Rafal or the Euro fighter is of great interest as it can determine the outcome of any conventional war.

    It is pointed out though that 70% of the Iranian military budget goes to missile development and Radar systems to counter the western technological advance in avionics. This 70% includes their nuclear program and in accordance to a military spokesman.

    One could conclude that if they have become efficient in ground radar and missiles, they may have become perhaps close to present day avionic in their fighter aircraft.

    It is not too shocking to see how far the US is going to undermine Iranian missile/military capability as shown on YouTube on (Iran's Ballistic Missile Capabilities - YouTube), a program by "The International Institute for Strategic Studies US" where the US missile expert claims that Iran's ability to hit any US war ship is so remote that it will simply hit 1000m away from the ship!!! Not according to their camera mounted videos in their numerous exercises!!
    He also claimed that the Iranian air force has been described as a bunch of old geriatrics where UAE would wipe them out in a week! I think he did not realize United Arab Emirates is simply a small state with 550000 indigenous populations!! Typical American who is clueless of local geography but claims.... I think he was referring to the entire Arab countries in the region.

    This very video was completely countered by an Israeli in-depth investigation who warned his Japanese friends that the Pupil, (Iran), is now the teacher and is likely to SELL North Korea its technology; furthermore, he added that although he is no friend of Iran, as an engineer he really admires their ingenuity in their satellite deployment where he has never seen a two stage deployment anywhere in the world!! This is a statement from an Israeli engineer who is no friend of the Iranians. His video link is on:
    (New Developments in Iran's Missile Capabilities - YouTube) done by Israel's Dr. Uzi Rubin.

    The reality of all this is that, Israel would never attack Iran with war planes due to lack of logistics and impracticality in actually achieving the objectives, not to mention Iran’s present defense capability and retaliation. Israel uses Iran to hide all its atrocities ageist Palestinians in the media so they keep shouting “Iran and nuclear weapons”. Iran uses Israel to keep threat of war and killing any opposition in the country in the name of national security. US and the west are "very very happy" with Iran as they are using Iran as a scare crow to sell more arms to Gulf States than ever thought possible, SO WHY would they destroy this scare crow??? For Iranian Mullahs, (clergy men) to prevent another revolution against the vile Islamic regime, THEY NEED A WAR to stay in power or at least a threat of an impending war.

    i.e. behind closed doors, money is made in ship loads, criminals kept in power in Iran and no one can tell how much they knowingly like one-another for power and profit. BUT Iranians are segmented and are craving for a new strong opposition leader and thus eventually the Islamic regime's days are closer to their expiry date. BUT the west does not want to lose their best selling point for arms in the Middle East.

    God Bless

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  17. It is common knowledge for many years now - that Israel has their Jericho missile system for its nuclear deterrent (that Israel will not publicly acknowledge this fact is irrelevant) – so the hysteria displayed by some in Israel - is simply that). Israel needs to get used to MAD (mutually assure destruction) that kept the peace during the entire Cold War.

    Nuclear capabilities are political weapons – not military options. That is why politicians fear them – while military people know they can never be used.

    Israeli saber ratting and the current US administration non-containment strategy against Iran is also political bluster. Neither have any authentic response to stop Iran – if Iran wants nukes.

    An American-Israeli military confrontation with Iran would result in:

    1. The US-Navy 5th fleet battle group(s) being on the receiving end of the entire Iranian arsenal – resulting in perhaps half a dozen (or more) US-Navy warships listing and on fire (or sunk) in the gulf.
    2. Israel being hit by Iranian ballistic missiles (Iron Dome can’t stop and Arrow is unproven) and the two Intel Corporation FABs at Qiryat Gat going off-line for the duration of the conflict (or worse - being targeted).
    3. Delaying an Iranian nuclear program by perhaps 24 months.

    Israel has the right to defend herself – however there is no military solution here. This might not be enough to stop an irrational military strike by the US regardless – and play straight into the hands of the hard-liners in Iran.

    Israelis thankfully (and understandably) have become more concerned with internal socioeconomic issues. Political hawks never run their economies properly and then lose support by bungling (not paying enough attention to) domestic affairs.

    - The Boresight

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    1. The u.s. Navy only sends one carrier strike group at a time to the gulf so the "entire" 5th fleet wouldn't be there. Also, all u.s. warships are armed with anti-missile technologies. Like the phalanx and sea sparrows. Also, destroyers have an aegis launching system that could easily track and shoot down anti-ship missiles and two destroyers are in a carrier strike group. So, even if Iran through everything they had at a carrier strike group the likely result would be the loss of a lot of Iranian missiles and aircraft and at most one disabled u.s. warship.

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    2. Yes and No. Have a look at our Attacking Iran post. There is some interesting "fog of war" stuff regarding the US Navy. - Boresight

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  18. @Sami
    " Israel uses Iran to hide all its atrocities ageist Palestinians in the media so they keep shouting “Iran and nuclear weapons”. Iran uses Israel to keep threat of war and killing any opposition in the country in the name of national security. US and the west are "very very happy" with Iran as they are using Iran as a scare crow to sell more arms to Gulf States than ever thought possible, SO WHY would they destroy this scare crow??? For Iranian Mullahs, (clergy men) to prevent another revolution against the vile Islamic regime, THEY NEED A WAR to stay in power or at least a threat of an impending war."
    Well said...
    In my view Iran's defence capability is more abt replicating Soviet based tech rather leaping into some modernn o fairly modern tech. In Pakistan tech. developments though less often do occur with the help of China but in Iran's case no one is there to help Iran in home-grown sophisticated tech.

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  19. Hello Ionube Khanz,

    Please allow me to give a touch of history on the matter based on historical events.

    Iran’s ability to replicate American technology came when they had to make their ALL AMERICAN aircraft workable after the Iraqi invasion in 1980. They had to resort to the unbelievable "Human wave attack" to kick the Iraqis out as ammunitions ran out. I remember reading in the Times and Guardian: Today 30000 Iranians died in a human wave attack, the next day 40000 Iranians died in ..... thus the human body against 21st century guns!! Tantamount to this, they had no mine clearing equipment so volunteers in waves walked across the mine field to clear the way for the main army to go ahead an free a town! They were ordinary civilians and that is something you cannot train any nation for so future attacks on Iran…… you decide. Mean while 42 countries supplied Iraq with every type of weapon while the Arab state gave Saddam all the money he needed, YET Iraq still lost!!

    Due to such unorthodux tactics, the true number of Iranian dead during the 8 year war was more than 4.5 million but a figure I witnessed constantly reduced over the years to only 250 to 400000 to stop the shock for the general public. Such an ordeal made them so determined to be self sufficient from the early 80s that their rate of technical evolution is the highest in the world according to Western analyst. I do Know many Russian and Ukrainian scientist started them off in the early 90s after the collapse of the USSR. Note that the west supplied Saddam Husain with Chemical weapons under the guise of agricultural supplies. I actually read this in a UK newspaper. Saddam is well Known for using this weapon where the Iranians refused to reciprocate due to humanitarian reasons. I guess thats where their 3000 year civilization comes to light compared to the Arabs.The Iranians had to learn very quickly to fix, make parts, overhaul and finally replicate their American made aircrafts.

    It should also be pointed out that where the Iraqi pilots targeted innocent civilians like bombing the shopping bazaar or the gathering of Friday prayers, Iran’s Khomaini made a decision not do the same and only target military assets. (The only thing I actually give that Indian origin Khomaini credit for)

    However, when it comes to tanks, the late Shah actually paid UK for the development of their Chieftain tank in the 70s and the rest was US tanks. Since no one actually provided them with anything, “they made the plan to attack the Iraqi infrastructure and refinery in a massive scale air attack across the whole of Iraq. Iranian air force destroyed 80% of that in a very short time where they had no electricity to run the machines that operated many of their fixed radar stations and generators were only operational for transient moments. At the front the Iranian ground force timed their attack Knowing there were no logistical backup, "fuel" for the Iraqi forces and thus ended up with a vast amount of Iraqi Russian made tanks and artillery totally intact while Iraqi’s fled on foot. This was a regular event. This is why they have so much expertise in Russian tanks. Having used all the different make tanks in every scenario, they started making their own using their experience using them catering for their shortcomings. Later in the 90s they actually purchased Russian aircraft and in a true Ironic turn of events, Saddam sent almost a hundred aircrafts to Iran to save them from destruction by the Americans.

    Please see next reply

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  20. Very nice article.Indeed, a very interesting read.I do, however, feel like pointing a few things out that I believe you got wrong:

    -The AIM-54A, even if it spent more than 15 years being regarded as one of the premier AAMs in the global inventory, is of little operational value today.The weapon is -probably, as the only ones who know how it did against turning targets and chaff use are USN F-14 crews- not as agile and maneuverable as contemporary weapons such as the AIM-120.Combined with today's ECM systems used by modern aircraft, it is really doubtful that IRIAF F-14s would be able to score a kill in combat against a modern fighter.

    -While it is possible that Iran has reverse-engineered the AIM-54A, the Fakur-90 report contained no optical material whatsoever.In other words, it was only a report that can be easily rejected as propaganda, due to the lack of evidence available to support this claim.In any case, however, point #1 (above) still applies.

    -F-14As of the IRIAF remain the same in terms of avionics.Iran's technological knowledge cannot venture much futher than copying spares to keep the fleet flying.All such upgrades require technical knowledge that Iran simply does not possess.Judging from the surfaced photos/videos of IRIAF F-14As, their armament and their cockpits, the aircraft have not undergone the slightest modification.

    -You made a claim that the typical "IRIAF is dead" phrase was an intelligence failure the moment that:

    -You yourself said that the CIA found out through the FTD that Iran was manufacturing spares for its AF, and that this was found out in 1986,

    -You also mentioned the attack on the nuclear reactor which was carried out by the IRIAF.Another fact that would definitely be known to western intel sources (an attack on a nuclear facility doesn't go unnoticed), thereby proving to them that the IRIAF was flying,

    -The USN itself encountered Iranian aircraft during that period (on one incident USN F-14s allegedly fired against IRIAF Phantoms), as this image of a F-14A intercepting an Iranian P-3 in '81 proves: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c6/F-14A_VF-213_intercepting_Iranian_P-3F_1981.jpg/440px-F-14A_VF-213_intercepting_Iranian_P-3F_1981.jpg ,

    -There must be a video somewhere on YouTube where what seems to be an IRIAF F-14A passes above Coalition troops,

    -The Tomcats in combat book, which you have repeatedly quoted, said that the Navy actually rushed upgrades for the Tomcat because it took the threat of IRIAF F-14s in the Persian Gulf really seriously.

    All these points prove that there was no intel failure whatsoever.News "propaganda" or ignorance?Certainly yes.But it's really wrong, IMHO, to believe that western intelligence failed at realizing that the IRIAF was flying even with all the available evidence.

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  21. Hi Anonymous,

    Sorry for the delayed response.

    True the AIM-54 is not as ‘maneuverable’ (as a smaller AIM-120) coming down on the target from 80,000ft at Mach 4+. However the AIM-54 makes up for this in part with a very large blast radius.

    True. After 34 years of operating the F-14 and its array of weapons it is highly probable that the Iranians would figure out what makes F-14 / AWG-9 / AIM-54 tick. To put this in context Iran has launched at least 2 domestic satellites so is demonstrating some technical understanding of these things as well as some understanding of orbital mechanics for good measure.

    There appear to be some differences however exactly what cockpit changes have been made is unclear:
    http://cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/photos/7/0/9/0811907.jpg
    http://www.iiaf.net/archive/aircraft/images/f_14_cockpit_1.jpg

    Too many in western circles have clung to the quote noted at bottom.

    The IRIAF strike on the Iraqi reactor has simply been forgotten by western analysts. They only talk about the Israeli strike (that was actually 8 month after) as a demonstration of IAF regional superiority.

    You would need to take issue with the author and publisher on this one. Their material appears to be better researched that anything else on Iran’s F-14s.

    Iranian F-14 Units in Combat [2004] Introduction: “…In fact, none of the active or former US Navy pilots of Radar Intercept Officers interview by the authors believed Iran still operated the Tomcat, or that its personnel were able to master its associated systems. The reaction of one when shown a photograph of an F-14 in Iranian colours – taken only weeks before – is characteristic: “Yeah…and it’s on the ground.”

    All comment are welcome!

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    1. Hello,

      Now it is my turn to apologise for a truly late reply.Anyways, I would like to say a few more things relating to this discussion:

      -The AIM-54A's blast radius is indeed larger than that of most AAMs even today.While this certainly does make up for the lack of agility, I seriously doubt that American and/or Israeli crews would have difficulties in evading the weapon.After all, any weakness of the AIM-54A is well known to the US, and those "secrets" will definitely be passed on to Israel, should a war ever break out against Iran.

      -Iranian satellite technology does not have much to do with combat aircraft upgrades.IMHO, Iranian satellite tech exists thanks to China, North Korea, or the Soviet Union.In any case, my point is that Iran did not develop satellite technology on its own.They were provided with that tech by someone else.When it comes to aircraft, Iran has no source that can teach them how modern aircraft systems work, and hence cannot create such without external help which, as I said, is unavailable.In other words: Many countries could have helped Iran with its space program, since Soviet Cold War leftovers are available.However, none is capable of providing Iran with state-of-the-art avionics, or teach them how to build them because none shares these secrets.The only nation capable of supplying Iran with some level of superior tech is China, but it is unlikely.

      -I cannot see that picture, I would appreciate it if you could repost it.

      -The IRIAF strike was overlooked by analysts, but not by intel agencies.I am convinced that the CIA would have known about the strike hours (if not minutes) after it happened, and would have drawn its conclusions with regard to the IRIAF, thus terminating the rumours (within the US armed forces and intel/sceurity agencies) about the IRIAF being grounded.

      -To be honest, I do have some doubts about the book (I own it), although it is, as you said, the best researched source on Iranian F-14s.I find it hard to believe that a USN pilot/RIO would not know about the IRIAF's current status.

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    2. Hi Anonymous,

      We would assess the bigger threat by IRIAF Tomcats fitted with AIM-54 class (AIM-54 improved/modified) weapons would be to IDF-AF/USAF support assets namely: all manner of high-value AWACS, AEW, ISR, J-STARS, Rivet-Joint platforms, tankers, reconnaissance, and electronic-warfare aircraft.

      Launching payloads into orbit is never a trivial affair. An endless string of things can go wrong – so Iranian success in this should not be completely dismissed. Iran also has focused a lot of resources on theater ballistic missiles to counter (counter-strike) any Israeli attack – for which the IDF “Arrow” anti-ballistic missile system effectively remain unproven (and never fired a shot during the 2006 Hezbollah missile crisis) and for which ‘Iron Dome’ cannot intercept.

      True. The IRIAF strike has today been utterly forgotten by all manner of: analysts, institutes, authors, historians, think-tanks, columnists and others - but noted by intelligence agencies then.

      Yes. Many have serious doubts about the Cooper/ Bishop material. But until credible research is produced by someone else that can rebuke or prove otherwise (that include aircraft BuNo numbers) ‘Iranian F-14 Tomcat Units In Combat’ remains to date THE best researched material on the Grumman F-14 in Iranian service.

      All comments welcome!

      - Boresight

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  22. i thought that the French might be upgrading the Tomcats with new systems and weapons back in 2007.

    http://luckypuppy.net/putin-says-pimp-my-mig-2/#comment-26833

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  23. "But the F-14 remains an impressive machine. During dogfight exercises at low level, the F-14 always beat the F-15, the F-16, and also out-flew the MiG-29 (reportedly the reason Iran ordered so few MiG-29s)."
    You must be kidding to repeat these Iranian PR-statements.
    How in the world of existing physics should it be possible for a 27,7to AC(loaded,no weapons/F-15=20,2to) underpowered (thrust/weight=0,92/F-15=1,12) and with a wing loading of 553.9 kg/m²(F-15=358 kg/m²), to beat the F-15 in an air-t-air dog fight?Not even mentioning a nimble fighter like the F-16?I call bullshit on that statement-the numbers don´t lie in this case: the F-14 is and always was a dog, a buff (big-ugly-fat-fucker) and no fighter.

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    1. simple. there is a second guy in the back to deal with weapons, navigation, extra visual aid etc rather the other that has to deal with everything. lol

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    2. The F-14 has already beat the F-15 and F-16 multiple times in war games. It could also go faster and with variable wing sweep it was more adaptive to tight turns at higher and lower speeds, so yes it is a fighter. In fact one of the best. Do some research kid.

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  24. You are forgetting that carrier-based fighters need very good (very good) low-speed handling at sea level. Straight (straight’ish) wings are best here (the A-10 is very maneuverable at low-level/low-speeds and will easily beat the F-15 and F-16 at low-level even though I think A-10 may have a higher wing loading than F-15/F-16 – need to check that). F-14 wing loading changes as its wings move and so would seem very plausible at low level it could easily enter the tightest turn possible at near stall speed and force everyone else to overshoot. The F-14D rectified the A and B model shortcomings with better sensors, radar, and used better F-14B GE-engines. Iranian Tomcats still use the old problematic underpowered P&W TF30 power plants. The biggest threat Iranian F-14A or F-14AM aircraft pose is likely to American or Israeli high-value AWACS / AEW / ISR / J-STARS / 'Rivet-Joint' tankers, reconnaissance, and electronic-warfare platforms. - The Boresight

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  25. tobiashommerich@aol.com20 November, 2013 00:41

    You have several oversights in your statement:
    #1The time needed to change wing figuration.
    Its not like a spring loaded knife, it takes almost half a minute to change from one configuration to the other.

    #2The wing loading numbers are measured in level flight!
    There is no way that you can flat-plate the bird (i.e. loosing energy drastically in a dog fight) with its take off weight of 33 tons and a design that weakens the airframe immensly like the swing wing with its pivoting joints.

    #3Even if you could, the weight would drag you in a turnradius which would be 3 times that of an A-10, but this is just theory because the compressor stall of the F-14 would kill it either way.

    To compare that buff with a nimble A-10 is nonsense:
    #4The A-10 weighs 10 tons/31% less and has 14% better wing loading.

    #5The F-15 weighs only 3 tons less than the Tomcat, but has double the combatradius, better thrust to weight and 46!% better wing loading(that means it has almost double the wing area of the F-14, which outperforms that stupid swing wing times 2 in a dog fight!).

    #6Do I even have to mention things like "relaxed stabillity" of the F-16 besides its superior performance and its take off weight of 19,2 tons?

    Yeah, the F-14 can fly slow.So does a Cessna.If you are slow and heavy, you are nothing but a target and you will get hosed.
    Dog fight is about slowing down and speeding up again, which is impossible if you are heavy and underpowered no matter how much wing you have.

    The only good thing about the F-14 and the swing wing is, that its easier to handle a carrier landing...so basically its a plane for a bad pilot.It was the next best thing to the F-111...and that is like having HIV instead of cancer-you are dead at the end anyways.

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    1. Hi tobiashommerich

      You comments seem to be referring to the F-14A. No one has ever said the Tomcat-A was not without problems. Keep in mind the entire weapons system: “F-14s were not allowed to employ their AIM-54 during the ACEVAL/AIMVAL exercises in the late 1970s. Why not?

      The F-15 and the F-16 have a poor (read short) combat radius without external drop tanks. Conformal fuel tanks were developed right away in the 1970s for Eagle in an attempt to address the issue. An F-15C without wing-tanks radius is probably the same or worse than the F-14D. The poor little F-16 is no better. Look at the crazy duel conformal tanks on aircraft like F-16I. (Don’t get us wrong – we love the F-16!) All (all) American fighters under actual operational conditions operate with extra external tanks – (all of them) even the “super low drag” internal weapon F-22.

      Why?

      Back to the F-14 the problem you’re going to have is to try and explain (or debunk) the F-14 combat record with a foreign operator. In this case Iran. “The best researched estimates (using non-American sources: as American/IDF-AF sources can be unreliable) conclude that over 130 Iraqi aircraft were downed (with an additional 23 probable) by Iranian F-14 Tomcats during the Iran-Iraq war; with over forty (40) of these using the AIM-54 Phoenix missile. This means the twenty (20) year air-combat record of the F-15 'Eagle' was exceeded in eight (8) years by the F-14 ‘Tomcat.’ Iranian Tomcats literally faced thousands of Iraqi air strikes. Indeed, Iranian F-14 crews fought in more aerial engagements than both the USAF and US-Navy combined during Vietnam.”

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    2. tobiashommerich@aol.com21 November, 2013 02:03

      I think this discussion is about whether an F-14 is a threat to an F-15 , F-16 or is as maneuverable as an A10.
      It is clearly not.

      What they´ve done in Iran does´nt matter in this regard,
      because they´ve shot down mostly planes of the 50´s with an upgraded one of the 70´s.
      It shows though-what I´ve stated in the other articel (no place to be) that the OODA-loop decides a dog fight and not the hardware.

      The pilot who knows about the EM-characterstics of each AC and knows how to get into the OODA-loop of the enemy.
      Which has been brought to a very high level obviously by the iranian pilots.

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    3. Hi tobiashommerich,
      The cruel irony here is that Boyd will work very well against the ultra expensive F-22A (no helmet sighting) than the F-15 or F-16 (with helmet sighting/AIM-9X) or even the MiG-21 (yes…MiG-21…keep reading). The USAF had a sobering experience with the Indian Air Force MiG-21-IBis “Bison” during Cope India exercises in 2004 (2005, 2006). USAF Boyed-EM was hobbled by "low-tech" aircraft fitted with proper equipment (helmet sighting + R-73 Archer) and flown by properly trained crews. The detail are classified but USAF Eagle drivers had a very bad day because of the MiG-21 ‘Bison’ and the Su-30MK. If USAF returns to India with helmet-sighted F-16 and F-15 (sorry F-22) that would be interesting.

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    4. Hi tobiashommerich,
      Remember that on paper and to those who subscribe to strict adherence to Boyd-EM theory – by every measure the F-15 beats the MiG-21 – every time. Indeed Bekaa Valley in 1982 seemed to confirm this. However in 2004 Cope India was a nasty shock to the USAF F-15 community and disciples of Boyd. Someone went and put helmet-sighing (and R-77s) on the old MiG…and uh oh!….big trouble. The OODA-Loop seems to be a very good practice and should be used – however it can not guarantee a desired outcome. Your ‘feedback’ loop part of the OODA could come in the form of being hit by a high-off-boresight missile round. Otherwise Boyd has proven to be superb. Helmet-sighting adds an additional dimension of complexity to EM application. That’s all we’re saying.

      - The Boresight

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    5. Hi tobiashommerich,

      Good discussion! If you look at this F-14 footage its does not appear that it takes ½ a minute to move it wings. Looks like just a few seconds. Have a look: http://youtu.be/n81pIulraxY

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    6. tobiashommerich@aol.com22 November, 2013 00:08

      I think you still don´t get it: The EM-"theory" was named theory, because of the Heisenberg principle of uncertainty.
      But other than that, it is a natural law that was there before Boyd, but he discovered a way to put it in a formula that is as simple and true like E=mc².
      It just tells you the flight envelope of every AC.
      The tactics developed by Boyd were the first to respect EM and that was obviously never done before.
      AirToAir was allways some kind of mysterious art form nobody could really explain.
      Boyd´s Aerial Attack Study was the first paper of its kind and that was 1964!
      Of course things have developed since then, but the EM-formula will allways be the way to measure/evaluate the possible performance of an air craft, because it is a proven fact that it is what nature does to an AC.
      The maneuvers based on EM are to be disputable-no doubt.
      The OODA-loop must implement all circumstances-helmet sight is one of them.
      The world is sadly not black and white and I repeat one more time: It is:People, Ideas, Hardware...in this order.

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    7. hi tobiashommerich,

      I think we’ve beat this thing to death – but anyway - under traditional EM application helmet-sighting is a complete game changer. Obviously one can attempt to incorporate helmet sighting into your EM – but that still doesn’t answers the question of when Boyd-EM breaks down – as it did for Randy Cunningham on 10-May 1972. The only reason Cunningham prevailed in the engagement was Tomb stopped maneuvering. Remember Cunningham is then hit by SA-2 moments afterwards – and he looses his jet. Cunningham’s ‘Orient’, ‘Act’, ‘Decide’ blocks overwhelm the ‘Observe’ block of an OODA-loop. So both EM and OODA break down. Perhaps they always break down together. The OODA-loop cannot guarantee all relevant information will be collected at ‘Observe’ block. It can not. Cunningham remain unaware he has been targeted by an SA-2 battery until it’s too late. Boyd OODA is just a methodology operating under ideal conditions. Boyd admits this truth by using the word “TEST” in the ‘Act’ block. Test means probability – test to what degree you hypothesis appears supported by observation (facts) – ‘Act’ does not mean certainty. Paradigms are always tough things to challenge – that’s what this blog is all about. This is why we really try to restrict our reference material to first hand pilot accounts. Therefore we stand by our observation regarding Boyd-EM.

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    8. True - People, Ideas, Hardware is also how helmet-sighting came about.

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    9. Tobias, I guess you haven't been informed either. The navy and Air Force have conducted many joint exercises in which more times than not the F-14 pilots devastated F-15 and F-16 crews. So, you can quote Wikipedia on tomcat specifications of an alpha model but you should be researching actual events instead. The tomcat was more agile and faster than the eagle and falcon and could target them from longer distances so I'm afraid your "theory" is incorrect.

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    10. What Grumman understands that F-15/F-16 Top Gun-Red Flag instructors may only privately admit - is - that repeated hard maneuvering bleeds airspeed – on any jet. One need only look at our “ no place to be” post and watch F-16s avoiding Iraqi SAMs to know that under actual combat conditions (actual combat conditions ) – airspeed (and altitudes) can drop sharply after a few hard maneuvers. ACM instructors try to teach pilots how to mitigate this phenomenon in training – but again - under actual combat conditions – this will not always be the case.

      So planes can get slow. Low speed handling can become the life-saving determining factor. Grumman builds this into Tomcat. Unfortunately the F-14A TF-30s were not really up to the task – and machine so equipped forced their pilots to “fly their engines” as well- at the same time.

      - Boresight

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  26. F14'S WING/FUSELAGE LOADING IS 270 KG/M2, DUE ITS AERODIMAMIC CONFIGURATION. 553KG/M2 IS INTENDED A VERY HIGHT WEIGHT (MAX TAKE OFF WEIGTH), WITHOUT FLAP AND SLAT THAT AT LOW SPEED END DURING DOG FIGHT ARE AUTOMATICALLY EXTENDED

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  27. of course we can't have an Ali-Cat article without Tom Cooper or Farzaad Bishop's name coming up.... *sigh*

    Their book may or may not be what it's worth. It's difficult to properly assess it's journalistic integrity until another author tackles the subject without their assistance. There are some very fantasical claims in there that would be difficult to verify, much less believe (the triple kill from one phoenix missile for example)

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    1. Unless someone (anyone) can refute the Cooper/Bishop material – including the history of each US supplied F-14 airframe BuNo number built for Iran – their material will very tough to dethrone/mitigate/refute. A triple kill from one missile round would only be possible with a phoenix. That the AIM-54s very large warhead combined with secondary explosions from targets in close proximity – is not really so far fetched. As I recall Cooper/Bishop document the event with an appropriate level of surprise. You are correct that because there material has yet to be academically peer reviewed by others – it is not typically accepted as cited material. However I would argue for its inclusion regardless because of the detail and on its BuNo history basis alone.

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    2. The Iranian F14 is only an F14 from the perspective of its airframe. They have Lyulka engines, Russian radars(Zhuk?) and carry R73 missiles. Their Phantoms also have now advanced Chinese radars instead of the original dish radars,maybe even RD33 engines. The AWG9 and TF30 are from old SR71 times and now behind currently exportable Russian and Chinese technology. Of course,current US technology is lightyears ahead of these.

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    3. Though the P414 'upgrade' (derate) essentially gutted the F-14s total performance envelope in trade for better stability, the fact remains that, like all jets with properly rigged and run out turbo paths (the engines are only the last third of this, tuned inlets are another 50% contributor) the ram effect of medium altitude ACT gave sufficient boost to TF30 performance to allow a mid-weight jet (no fuel left in the 267s, half fuel in the internals, MiGCAP Charlie loadout of 4X AIM-9 and 4X AIM-7) to have a 1:1 thrust to weight ratio.

      This is not necessarily how you want to arrive in a fight but it does work.

      HOBS capability came to the F-14 in 1975 when the F-4S VTAS (which looks remarkably like the Russian 'Schmel') was transferred to a pair of developmental F-14A Blk.90 with TVSU fitted under the nose and carrying either Lady Fingers (Concept SS-1) or Big Missile (Concept SS-2) which emulated various turning fight vs. high off boresight capabiltiies (Concept SS-1C was essentially the R-60M model of a tiny, agile, system like the USAF CLAWS while Concept SS-2D was essentially the AGILE missile with an 8" diameter and 60` HOBS capability along with a variable sensitivity rheostat).

      This being done for the enormous AIMVAL/ACEVAL testing exercises of the 1975-76 period.

      With the AGILE emulator, the F-14s, whose Kalman (analogue) processed signal filtering left them without MPRF look down for overland work, could sneak in at very low levels in a fast bunny killer mode of 600 knots and 100ft to look UP at the F-5Es whose own APQ-153/159 was often buzzing away merrily in 'range only' mode due to the clutter.

      These F-5Es were in turn emulating the MiG-17 Wagon Wheel tactics of Vietnam which advances like the APG-63 and APY-1 were rapidly rendering untenable as surprise marshalling offsets from the expected raid ground track.

      The F-14s would sweep the F-5s once, lock them into the TVSU which then angle tracked them just fine as pilots eyeballed the oblique closure rate to a given AON/AOT offset before firing their 'big missile' from 4-5nm away. At the time, this was unheard of, Sparrow class, missile performance in a Heat Seekered Weapon as the Tiger force (themselves 'donated' from deliveries withheld from Vietnam) often never saw the F-14s below their sill lines until they were told by the referee that they were dead.

      Comparatively, the 'energy superior' F-15s would come into the fight with AIM-7F (a really lousy weapon) at max burner, to get nose shots at 8-10nm and then find themselves taking a heat shot to the lips as the 'Concept C' (AIM-9L emulating R-60 with boresight only mode) weapons were pointed at them, BVR, by F-5Es whose pilots had used radio shack components to make Adhoc RWRs.

      The F-15s were so hot after their sprints that they were easy face shot and subsequently used a much longer coast-in phase which left them on the shy side of 520 knots and readily within the Adversary group's counter intercept capabilities.

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  28. As you will note in the 1991 Gulf War quote, the USAF still stubbornly clung to the Fluid Four and Fluid Two formula which had gotten them into such trouble in Vietnam and this further crippled their LD or DA abilities to go into multiple offensive blow throughs on widely separated pinch/heart attack offsets which was the intent of the Lady Fingers approach to 6 or 8 guided shots per wing.

    If you're slow, you're going to take the nose shot and in defeating that initial salvo, your subsequent perch angle for rolling down on the wagon wheel of F-5Es was going to be very shallow and short.

    The result was a dogpile condition which the USN simply refused to merge into but the F-15 seemingly sought.

    It should be noted here as well that the F-15, especially the early models with the PW-100 engines, was a bit of a pig itself. The conical cambered wing was the equivalent of flying around with permanently deployed LEF and that created a LOT of drag while the engines, like most period turbofans with .7 BPrs were gutless and slow to windup. Later F100s fixed this by taking the BPr down to about .34:1 but the Rodan was never much for the low fight and is routinely out accelerated, even today, with the PW-220E.

    Further to this, on the A's the fuel balancing system left a lot to be desired and so you had to check 'squared and centered' on fight entry or risk coming home with a literally bent wing. At the same time, PRF step and auto acquire were not quite what they needed to be with the AIM-7F and so there was another whole set of procedures to confirm valid shot envelopes. Combined with the conscan seeker, this made F-15 AIM-7F BVR less caable than (period) F-14 AIM-7E equivalent because the F-14 had real CW emulation capability whereas the F-15 had to cheat with interleaved M/HPRF modes that also effected track stability.

    If anything has been done to the Iranian aircraft, I am betting that it was the removal of the old Kalman stacked-bank crystal filters to provide a more wide-open signal generation capability, relative to a new D/A converter as an RSP 'signal' processor vs. an upstream RDP 'data' processor.

    This would be a pretty easy plug'n'play from any of the Chinese or Russian or Italian radar upgrades on the market and would only require some added software to connect to the existing cockpit display systems.


    Programmability is essential in a modern fighter radar, even with 10KW of effective peak power as it allows you to change wave forms and speed up track updating with fewer scans in a Sniff mode as would be necessary in a dense EW environment with multiple internal trackbreakers and tow birds and high power EXCM jammers now on the market.

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