Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force

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Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force
IRI.Army Air Force Seal.svg
Founded1925;94 years ago (1925)
CountryFlag of Iran.svg Iran
Type Air force
Role Aerial warfare
Size37,000 (MEI 2011 estimate) [1]
Part of Artesh
Garrison/HQ Tehran
Nickname(s) Persian: تیزپروازان, Tizparvazan
Motto(s) Persian: بلند آسمان جایگاه من است
"Skyhigh Is My Place"
Colors     Ultramarine Blue
March18 April
Mascot(s) Eagle
Anniversaries8 February (Air Force Day)
Equipment741 aircraft/helicopters
Brig Gen. Aziz Nasirzadeh
Deputy Commander2nd Brig Gen. Hamid Vahedi
Coordinator Deputy Commander2nd Brig Gen. Mahdi Hadian
Roundel Roundel of Iran.svg
Fin flash Flag of Iran.svg
Flag Flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force.svg
Aircraft flown
Attack F-4D/E, Su-22M3/M4, Su-24MK, F-5E/F, Saeqeh
RC-130, B707 Elint
Fighter F-14A, MiG-29A/UB, Mirage F1EQ4/EQ5/EQ6, F-7M
Helicopter CH-47, AB-206, AB-214, AS-61, Mi-17, AH-1J, RH-53D
Patrol P-3F
Reconnaissance RF-4E
Trainer F-5A/B/Simorgh, PC-7, F33C, Fajr-3, FT-7
Transport C-130, IL-76, F27, Boeing 747, Boeing 707, Falcon 20, Falcon 50, JetStar, Y-12, PC-6, Socata TB.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF; Persian : نیروی هوایی ارتش جمهوری اسلامی ایران) is the aviation branch of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army. The present Air Force came into being in the early 1980s when the former Imperial Iranian Air Force was renamed.

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is a Western Iranian language belonging to the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian subdivision of the Indo-European languages. It is a pluricentric language predominantly spoken and used officially within Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan in three mutually intelligible standard varieties, namely Iranian Persian, Dari Persian and Tajiki Persian. It is also spoken natively in the Tajik variety by a significant population within Uzbekistan, as well as within other regions with a Persianate history in the cultural sphere of Greater Iran. It is written officially within Iran and Afghanistan in the Persian alphabet, a derivation of the Arabic script, and within Tajikistan in the Tajik alphabet, a derivation of Cyrillic.

Air force military branch of service primarily concerned with aerial warfare

An air force or air army, is in the broadest sense, the national military branch that primarily conducts aerial warfare. More specifically, it is the branch of a nation's armed services that is responsible for aerial warfare as distinct from an army or navy. Typically, air forces are responsible for gaining control of the air, carrying out strategic and tactical bombing missions, and providing support to land and naval forces often in the form of aerial reconnaissance and close air support.

Islamic Republic of Iran Army combined regular military forces of Irans military

The Islamic Republic of Iran Army, acronymed AJA, simply known as the Iranian Army or Artesh, is the "conventional military of Iran" and part of Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The army is tasked to protect the territorial integrity of the Iranian state from external and internal threats and to project power. Artesh has its own Joint Staff which coordinates its four separate service branches: Ground Forces, Air Force, Navy and the newly established Air Defense Force.


The Air Force has attempted with some success to maintain in service the large number of American-built aircraft which Iran acquired during the Shah's regime. The Air Force has turned to purchases of Soviet and Chinese aircraft, as well as pressing ex-Iraqi aircraft into service, and indigenously built aircraft, in order to maintain a capable force. As of June 2016, the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force possesses 348 fighters, making it the ninth most powerful air arm in the world, on paper. [2]

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Last shah of Iran

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, also known as Mohammad Reza Shah, was the last King (Shah) of Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979. Mohammad Reza Shah took the title Shahanshah on 26 October 1967. He was the second and last monarch of the House of Pahlavi. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi held several other titles, including that of Aryamehr and Bozorg Arteshtaran ("Commander-in-Chief"). His dream of what he referred to as a "Great Civilisation" in Iran led to a rapid industrial and military modernisation, as well as economic and social reforms.

Iraq Republic in Western Asia

Iraq, officially the Republic of Iraq, is a country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest and Syria to the west. The capital, and largest city, is Baghdad. Iraq is home to diverse ethnic groups including Arabs, Kurds, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans, Circassians and Kawliya. Around 95% of the country's 37 million citizens are Muslims, with Christianity, Yarsan, Yezidism and Mandeanism also present. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish.


The IRIAF came into being when the former Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF) was renamed following the Islamic Revolution in Iran, in February 1979. The British publishing company Orbis' Warplane partwork magazine seems to indicate the renaming did not actually take place until after the Iran–Iraq War had broken out.

Iran–Iraq War 1980–1988 war between Iran and Iraq

The Iran–Iraq War began on 22 September 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran, and it ended on 20 August 1988, when Iran accepted the UN-brokered ceasefire. Iraq wanted to replace Iran as the dominant Persian Gulf state, and was worried that the 1979 Iranian Revolution would lead Iraq's Shi'ite majority to rebel against the Ba'athist government. The war also followed a long history of border disputes, and Iraq planned to annex the oil-rich Khuzestan Province and the east bank of the Arvand Rud.

This "new" Iranian air force largely inherited the equipment and structure of the former IIAF, even losing most of its leading officers in the course of post-revolutionary chaos, as well as due to the prosecution of those considered as loyal to the Shah, pro-U.S. or elsewhere by the new government in Tehran.

Due to strained relations with the west, Iran had to procure new equipment from Brazil, Russia and the People's Republic of China. Since the Revolution, the exact composition of the IRIAF is hard to determine, but estimates do exist. Many aircraft belonging to the Iraqi Air Force took refuge in Iran during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, and many were put into service with the IRIAF or taken apart for spare parts.

Brazil Federal republic in South America

Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers and with over 208 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the fifth most populous. Its capital is Brasília, and its most populated city is São Paulo. The federation is composed of the union of the 26 states, the Federal District, and the 5,570 municipalities. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas; it is also one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse nations, due to over a century of mass immigration from around the world.

Iraqi Air Force Aerial warfare branch of Iraqs armed forces

The Iraqi Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the Iraqi Armed Forces, responsible for the policing of international borders and surveillance of national assets. The IQAF also acts as a support force for the Iraqi Navy and the Iraqi Army and it allows Iraq to rapidly deploy its developing Army.

Gulf War 1990–1991 war between Iraq and Coalition Forces

The Gulf War, codenamed Operation Desert Shield for operations leading to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia and Operation Desert Storm in its combat phase, was a war waged by coalition forces from 35 nations led by the United States against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait arising from oil pricing and production disputes. The war is also known under other names, such as the Persian Gulf War, First Gulf War, Gulf War I, Kuwait War, First Iraq War or Iraq War, before the term "Iraq War" became identified instead with the post-2003 Iraq War. The war has also earned the nickname Video Game War after the daily broadcast of images from cameras on board US bombers during Operation Desert Storm.

Due to the continuous spare parts shortages faced by the air force, a decision was made in the late 1980s to develop a local aerospace industry to support the air force.

In 2002, Iran with the co-operation of Ukraine, successfully started the manufacture of the Iran-140; a licence-built version of the Antonov An-140 transport aircraft. Simultaneously, Iran began construction of two domestically produced fighters, upgraded using technology from the F-14 Tomcat and the F-5 Tiger II. The fighters have been named the Azarakhsh and the Shafaq.

Ukraine Sovereign state in Eastern Europe

Ukraine, sometimes called the Ukraine, is a country in Eastern Europe. Excluding Crimea, Ukraine has a population of about 42.5 million, making it the 32nd most populous country in the world. Its capital and largest city is Kiev. Ukrainian is the official language and its alphabet is Cyrillic. The dominant religions in the country are Eastern Orthodoxy and Greek Catholicism. Ukraine is currently in a territorial dispute with Russia over the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014. Including Crimea, Ukraine has an area of 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi), making it the largest country entirely within Europe and the 46th largest country in the world.

Antonov State Company, formerly the Aeronautical Scientific-Technical Complex named Antonov, and earlier the Antonov Design Bureau, is a Soviet, and later a Ukrainian aircraft manufacturing and services company. Antonov's particular expertise is in the fields of very large aeroplanes and aeroplanes using unprepared runways. Antonov has built a total of approximately 22,000 aircraft, and thousands of its planes are currently operating in the former Soviet Union and in developing countries.

Antonov An-140 Twin-turboprop regional airliner by Antonov

The Antonov An-140 is a turboprop regional airliner, designed by the Ukrainian Antonov ASTC bureau as a successor to the Antonov An-24, with extended cargo capacity and the ability to use unprepared airstrips.

Since then the country has also become self-sufficient in the manufacture of helicopters. The country claims that it is capable of producing the U.S. AH-1 Cobra gunship. Additionally, Iran also produces Bell Helicopter Bell 212 and Bell 206 helicopters in serial production. These are known respectively as the Shabaviz 2-75 and the Shabaviz 206.

Bell Helicopter Aerospace manufacturer in the United States

Bell Textron Inc. is an American aerospace manufacturer headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. A subsidiary of Textron, Bell manufactures military rotorcraft in at facilities Fort Worth, and Amarillo, Texas, as well as commercial helicopters in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada.

Bell 212 utility transport helicopter family by Bell

The Bell 212 is a two-blade, twin-engine, medium helicopter that first flew in 1968. Originally manufactured by Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth, Texas, United States, production was moved to Mirabel, Quebec, Canada in 1988, along with all Bell commercial helicopter production after that plant opened in 1986.

Bell 206 utility helicopter family by Bell

The Bell 206 is a family of two-bladed, single- and twin-engined helicopters, manufactured by Bell Helicopter at its Mirabel, Quebec, plant. Originally developed as the Bell YOH-4 for the United States Army's Light Observation Helicopter program, it was not selected by the Army. Bell redesigned the airframe and successfully marketed the aircraft commercially as the five-place Bell 206A JetRanger. The new design was eventually selected by the Army as the OH-58 Kiowa. Bell also developed a seven-place LongRanger, which was later offered with a twin-engined option as the TwinRanger, while Tridair Helicopters offers a similar conversion of the LongRanger called the Gemini ST. The ICAO-assigned model designation "B06" is used on flight plans for the JetRanger and LongRanger, and the designation "B06T" is used for the twin-engined TwinRangers.

Iran–Iraq War (1980–88)

An IRIAF C-130 Hercules in 1988 C-130 Iran 1988 DN-SN-89-02586.JPEG
An IRIAF C-130 Hercules in 1988

A series of purges and forced retirements resulted in the manpower of the service being halved between February 1979 and July 1980, leaving the IRIAF ill-prepared for the Iran–Iraq War (also called the "1st Persian Gulf War"). The sudden Iraqi air strikes against eight major Iranian airbases and four other military installations, launched on the afternoon of 22 September 1980, came as a complete surprise and caused a shock in the IRIAF.

The Iranians retaliated with operation Kaman-99 which involved 206 F-4, F-5 and F-14 aircraft.

On 23 September 1980, Iran launched Operation Kaman 99 as 40 F-4 Phantoms, armed with Mark 82, Mark 83 and Mark 84 bombs and AGM-65 Maverick missiles, took off from Hamadan. After refueling in mid-air the Phantoms reached the Iraqi capital Baghdad, where they attacked: al-Rashid, al-Habbaniyah and al-Kut airbases.

Meanwhile, eight More F-4s took off from Tehran and launched a second attack on the al-Rashid airbase.

Iran proceeded to launch 58 F-5E Tiger IIs from Tabriz, which were sent to attack Mosul Airbase. After the attack on Mosul Airbase, another 50 F-5Es were dispatched to strike Nasiriyah Airbase, which was heavily damaged.

As all 148 Iranian F-4s and F-5s had been sent for a bombing raid on Iraq, 60 F-14 Tomcats were scrambled to defend Iranian airspace against a possible Iraqi retaliation. Iranian F-14s managed to down 2 Iraqi MiG-21s (1 MiG-21RF and 1 MiG-21MF) and 3 Iraqi MiG-23s (MiG-23MS), an Iranian F-5E also shot down an Iraqi Su-20 during the operation. Iraqi MiG-23s managed to down 2 F-5Es, while Iraqi MiG-21s also downed 2 F-5Es. Iraqis also by mistake shot down one of their own Il-76MD strategic airlifters with a SA-3 SAM.

The Iraqis however were well prepared for the attack and had flown over most of their air force to other Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, this made sure that most of the Iraqi Air Force survived the operation.

Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi military were dealt a heavy blow when Iranian Air Force vulnerabilities failed to materialize. All Iraqi airbases near Iran were out of order for weeks and, according to Iran, Iraq's aerial efficiency was reduced by 55%. This allowed Iranians to regroup and prepare for the upcoming Iraqi invasion.

Although the readiness rates of the IRIAF significantly increased in the following months, its overall role and influence declined, as the clerical government prioritized resources for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) militias and simultaneously attempted to develop a separate air arm for this service.

After the successful liberation of most Iranian areas captured by the Iraqis in the first half of 1982, the situation of the IRIAF changed completely. From an air arm that was offensive by nature, it was largely relegated to air defense and relatively infrequent bombing attacks against targets of industrial and military significance inside Iraq. Simultaneously, the IRIAF had to learn how to maintain and keep operational its large fleet of U.S.-built aircraft and helicopters without outside help, due to American sanctions. Relying primarily on antiquated equipment purchased from the US in the 1970s, the Iranians began establishing their own aerospace industry; their efforts in this remained largely unrecognized until recently.

A P-3F Orion of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force Iranian Lockheed P-3F Orion in flight over the Strait of Hormuz on 1 August 1994 (6491410).jpg
A P-3F Orion of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force

During 1984 and 1985, the IRIAF found itself confronted by an ever-better organized and equipped opponent, as the Iraqi Air force—reinforced by deliveries of advanced fighter-bombers from France and the Soviet Union—launched numerous offensives against Iranian air bases, military bases, industrial infrastructures, powerplants, oil-export hubs, and population centers. These became better known as "The Tanker War" and "The War of the Cities". To defend against an increasing number of Iraqi air strikes, the IRIAF leaned heavily on its large fleet of Grumman F-14 Tomcat interceptor fighters. Tomcats were mainly deployed in defense of the strategically important Khark Island (main hub for Iranian oil exports), and Tehran. Over 300 air-to-air engagements against IQAF fighters, fighter-bombers, and bombers, were fought in these areas alone between 1980 and 1988.[ citation needed ]

Confronted with the fact that it could not obtain replacements for equipment lost in what became a war of attrition against Iraq, the IRIAF remained defense-orientated for the rest of the conflict, conserving its surviving assets as a "force in being". From mid 1987, the IRIAF found itself confronted also with U.S. Navy fighters over the Persian Gulf. A number of confrontations that occurred between July 1987 and August 1988 stretched available IRIAF assets to the limit, exhausting its capability to defend Iranian air space against Iraqi air strikes.

One of the most notable Iranian fighter pilot was Jalil Zandi. His fame came as a F-14 Tomcat pilot. He has been reliably credited with shooting down 11 Iraqi fighter jets.

Post Iran–Iraq War

An Iranian C-130 Hercules in 2010 Iranian Air Force Hercules Habibi.jpg
An Iranian C-130 Hercules in 2010

Immediately after the end of the Iran–Iraq War, the IRIAF was partially rebuilt through limited purchases of MiG-29 fighters and Su-24 bombers from the Soviet Union, as well as F-7M and FT-7 fighters from China. While providing needed reinforcement to the Iranian Air Force, these types never replaced the older, U.S.-built F-4 Phantoms, F-14s (the IRIAF is now the only air arm in the world using the fighter), or F-5s. Instead, the IRIAF continued its efforts to keep these types in service, and began a number of projects to refurbish and upgrade them.


During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, numerous Iraqi pilots flew Iraqi Air Force aircraft to Iran to avoid destruction by coalition forces. The Iranians impounded these aircraft and never returned them, putting them in service in the IRIAF [3] and claiming them as reparations for the Iran–Iraq War. The aircraft included several Mirage F1s, MiG-23s, MiG-29s, Su-20s, Su-22Ms, Su-24s, Su-25s and a number of Il-76s, including the secret, one-off AEW-AWACS Il-76 "ADNAN 1" prototype.

Even after the cease-fire with Iraq, the IRIAF carried out several air raids against Kurdish bases in Northern Iraq. The first of such raids was conducted using eight F-4s armed with rockets and cluster bombs on 6 April 1992 against People's Mujahedin of Iran's Camp Ashraf. During this event one F-4 was shot down by either insurgent or Iraqi military AAA and both pilots (Lt. Col Amini and Cpt. Sharifi) were captured and not freed until 1998. Despite threats of response, Iraq wasn't able to retaliate due to its own fight against Kurdish separatist guerrillas and the Western-imposed no-fly zones that crippled and limited its air force's operations. [4] [5]

In 2007, Iraq asked Iran to return some of the scores of Iraqi fighter plans that flew there ahead of the Gulf War in 1991. [6] And as of 2014, Iran was receptive to the demands and was working on refurbishing an unspecified number of jets. [7] [8] In late 2014, Iran returned 130 military aircraft to Iraq. [9]


In 2006, after Iranian media published a series of reports suggesting that Venezuela was interested in selling its 21 F-16 Fighting Falcons to Iran, [10] a Hugo Chavez adviser confirmed to the Associated Press that "Venezuela's military is considering selling its fleet of U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to another country, possibly Iran, in response to a U.S. ban on arms sales to President Hugo Chávez's government". In response, Sean McCormack, a U.S. State Department spokesperson, warned Venezuela that "without the written consent of the United States, Venezuela can't transfer these defense articles, and in this case F-16s, to a third country". [11]

Iran Air Forces training in Tehran, 2014 IRIAF trainings in Tehran 03.jpg
Iran Air Forces training in Tehran, 2014

According to Moscow Defense Brief, Russia delivered 6 Su-25UBK ground attack fighter-trainers, 12 Mi-171Sh military transport helicopters, 21 Mi-171 transport helicopters, and 3 Mi-17B-5 medical helicopters to Iran between 2000 and 2006. A $700 million repair and modernization program of the IRIAF MiG-29 and Su-24 fighters was also completed. [12]

On 22 September 2009, an IRIAF Il-76 collided with an F-5E [13] shortly after an annual parade in Tehran and crashed near Varamin, killing all seven people on board. [14]


At the end of 2014, there was evidence that the IRIAF was involved in the 2014 military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. A video released by Aljazeera seemed to show an Iranian F-4 Phantom II bombing some ISIS buildings in Diyala Governorate. [15]

Current composition

The IRIAF composition has changed very little since 1979. The first, limited re-location of several units—including disbandment of some and establishment of new squadrons—occurred in late 1980, when the F-4D fleet was concentrated at Shiraz, two squadrons of F-4Es moved from Shiraz to Hamedan, and a squadron of F-14 Tomcats deployed to Mehrabad. Other deployments during the war with Iraq were mainly of temporary character, even if a major re-organization of existing air-defense assets—foremost SAM and AAA units—was undertaken in 1985. There has been no major re-organization during all of the 1990s, either.

HESA Azarakhsh HESA Azarakhsh displayed in Vahdati Airbase.jpg
HESA Azarakhsh

Equipment, capabilities, and combat performance of the IRIAF strongly influenced the development of the Iraqi Air Force (IQAF), during the 1980s, but also that of the United Arab Emirates Air Force, in the 1990s and the most recent times.

In 2013, Iran changed the status of its airports and former Tac Air Bases in combined airfields according to its current policy of having limited fixed units stationed as IRIAF's new policy is using composite units. These composite units may be stationed at any airfield and may be moved overnight to any other airfield at short notice. Therefore, all combined airfields are or will be accommodated with basic cross-service capabilities to handle all IRIAF aircraft.

While Iran has been under sanctions since 1979 and these sanctions have become more intense after the country started its nuclear program, Iran has become one of only a handful of countries capable of servicing and overhauling its own military and civilian aircraft. However, less tension in the current (2015) international situation led to a decrease of the sanctions, and the Iranian government is now capable again in ordering a new fleet of civilian aircraft replacing the aged types.

A Mirage F1BQ landing Mirage F1BQ of IRIAF.jpg
A Mirage F1BQ landing
A MiG-29UB of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force in 2011. Iran Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29UB Sharifi.jpg
A MiG-29UB of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force in 2011.
An Su-24MK of the IRIAF flying over Shahid Dastghaib International Airport. A Sukhoi Su-24MK of IRIAF flighting over Shiraz.jpg
An Su-24MK of the IRIAF flying over Shahid Dastghaib International Airport.

Jane's Sentinel estimate of units 1993

Source: Jane's Sentinel, Islamic Republic of Iran, 1993, p. 27 – not complete

Tactical Air BaseLocationTypeUnit
TAB 1 Mehrabad F-5Esquadron
MehrabadF 27/Falcomsquadron
TAB 2 Tabriz F-4D/Esquadron
Tabriz F-5E squadron
Tabriz C-130Hflight
TAB 3 Hamadan F-6squadron
TAB 4 Dezful F-4D/Esquadron
TAB 4DezfulF-5Esquadron
TAB 5not identified
TAB 6 Bushehr F-4D/E squadron
Bushehr F-7M flight
Bushehr C-130Hflight
TAB 7 Shiraz Northrop F-5 squadron
Shiraz F-14A/MiG-29 squadron
Shiraz C-130H/Il-76 squadron
Shiraz F-27 flight

Alleged purchases


The Jerusalem Post reported that Iran has signed an arms deal with the Russian Rosoboronexport arms group to buy 250 Su-30MKM warplanes and 20 Il-78 MKI aerial tankers. It is reported that Israeli defense officials were investigating the potential Iran–Russia deal, in which Iran would pay $1 billion for a dozen squadrons’ worth of the jets. [16] Iran and Russia have both denied this and have rejected these claims as propaganda. [17] [18] [19] In a broadcast the Mehr News Agency reported that they (the reporters) saw a dozen Su-30s in a maneuver that took place on 15 and 16 September 2008; further the report reads: "In this joint maneuver of the IRIAF and the AFAGIR which is called the 'Guardians of the Nations Skies' the Air Forces of Iran have tested domestically developed systems as well as newly purchased systems (from Russia and China)." [20] The harsh warnings of Israel that it could attack Iran at any time and Russian-American tensions over Georgia, have led to reported weapons sales to Iran by Russia,[ citation needed ] but so far there have no details been revealed by either side.


The Russian news agency Novosti reported that Business & Financial Markets said Iran has signed a deal with China to buy two squadrons/24 of J-10 fighter planes with Russian-made AL-31FN engines. The total cost of the planes is estimated at $1 billion, and deliveries are expected between 2008 and 2010. China denied that it had agreed to sell its home-grown fighter jets to Iran, saying no talks had taken place. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters: "It's not true, it is an irresponsible report, China has not had talks with Iran on J-10 jets." [21] [22] [23]

JF-17 Thunder

According to Global Security, in July 2003 Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Corporation (CAIC) unveiled the new 'Super-7' or Chao Qi fighter plane to the public, China supposedly received orders from Iran. The plane, now called the FC-1 is an export version of the JF-17 Thunder and entered production in 2006. As of 2014 Iran hasn't received any such plane. [16]


Current inventory

An F-14A Tomcat of the IRIAF Iranian Air Force Grumman F-14A Tomcat (remix).jpg
An F-14A Tomcat of the IRIAF
A MiG-29 sits on the tarmac at Dezful Airport IRIAF Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29A (9-12A) at Dezful.jpg
A MiG-29 sits on the tarmac at Dezful Airport
A CH-47 Chinook CH-47 Iran Air Force (remiex).jpg
A CH-47 Chinook
An Iranian C-130E C-130E Iran Air Force THR May 2011.jpg
An Iranian C-130E
AircraftOriginTypeVariantIn serviceNotes
Combat Aircraft
MiG-29 Russia multirole 20 [24]
Sukhoi Su-17/20/22 Russia attack 10 [25]
Sukhoi Su-24 Russia attack 23 [24]
Chengdu F-7 China fighter 17 [24] license built MiG-21
Northrop F-5 United States fighter F-5E/ Saeqeh 25 [24] the Saeqeh is a reversed engineered derivate
F-4 Phantom II United States fighter-bomber D/E/RF 47 [24] 16 aircraft are configured for reconnaissance [26]
Grumman F-14 United States fighter / interceptor F-14A/AM [27] 24 [24]
Mirage F1 France fighter F1EQ4/EQ5/EQ6 9 [24] obtained from the IQAF fleeing during the Gulf War
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 Russia Fighter-bomber 12 Mig-23s flown over from Iraq in 1991 in storage
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 Russia Interceptor aircraft / Reconnaissance aircraft obtained from the IQAF fleeing during the Gulf War
Maritime Patrol
P-3 Orion United States maritime patrol P-3F 5 [24]
Boeing 707 United States aerial refueling / transport4 [24]
Boeing 747 United States aerial refueling / transport3 [24]
Airbus A321 France VIP A321-200 1 [28]
Boeing 707 United States VIP one used for electronic warfare 2 [24]
Boeing 747 United States VIP 7 [24]
C-130 Hercules United States transport C-130E/H 28 [24]
Ilyushin Il-76 Russia heavy transport5 [24]
Fokker F-27 Netherlands transport5 [24]
Pilatus PC-6 Switzerland utility13 [24] STOL capable aircraft
Agusta Bell 206 Italy utility3 [24] one used as a rotorcraft trainer
Agusta-Bell 212 Italy utility2 [24]
CH-47 Chinook United States transport C 2 [24]
Northrop F-5 United States conversion trainer F-5B/F 22 [24]
Chengdu F-7 China conversion trainer FT-7 2 [24]
Mirage F1 France conversion trainer F1BQ 4 [24] obtained from the IQAF fleeing during the Gulf War
Pilatus PC-7 Switzerland trainer35 [24]

In 2007, Iraq asked Iran to return some of the scores of Iraqi fighter plans that flew there ahead of the Gulf War in 1991. [29] And as of 2014, Iran was receptive to the demands and was working on refurbishing an unspecified number of jets. [30] [8] In late 2014, Iran returned 130 military aircraft to Iraq. [31]


Iran location map.svg
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Bandar Abbas
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Piktogramm Militaerflugplatz.svg
Masjed Soleyman
Location of major air bases in Iran

In the last several years several new airfields have been constructed in central- and eastern Iran. Some of these facilities have since seen full-scale deployments of IRIAF units, and it now appears that at least two became permanent "Tactical Fighter Bases" (TFBs). These are the first such bases established since 1979. Except new airfields, with Chinese support, the IRIAF constructed also a number of new early warning radar sites around the country. Its ability to control the national airspace, however, remains limited—mainly due to the rugged terrain and lack of airborne early warning assets.

Aside from maintaining 14 TFBs, the IRIAF operates numerous temporary detachments on several minor airfields around the country. Ex-Iraqi Mirage F.1EQs, usually based at TFB.14, near Mashhad, were frequently seen over the Persian Gulf, in 2005 and 2006.

Missiles and rockets

Fakour-90 missile (yellow) on display at the Eqtedar-40 defence exhibition Fakour-90 missile.jpg
Fakour-90 missile (yellow) on display at the Eqtedar-40 defence exhibition

On 8 March 2009, Iran declared that it has successfully armed some of its front-line fighter jets with domestically manufactured long-range air-to-surface missiles, which are capable of hitting targets within a range of more than 110 kilometers at sea. [32]

Major operations

See also

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History of the Iranian Air Force

The history of the Iranian Air Force can be divided into two phases—before the Islamic Revolution, and after it.

The Grumman F-14 Tomcat has served with the United States Navy and the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) It operated aboard U.S. aircraft carriers from 1974 to 2006 and remains in service with Iran. In-depth knowledge of its service with Iran is relatively limited.

Ali Air Base Iraqi air base

Nasiriyah Airport is a Military / Public located near Nasiriyah, Iraq. It is also known as Tallil Air Base until December 2011 and Imam Ali Air Base Until March 2017, when the base was used by United States Armed Forces. It is generally known as Camp Adder by the U.S. Army; the name "Ali Air Base" is used chiefly by the U.S. Air Force; the installation, however, is still commonly referred to as "Tallil".

Hamadan Airbase Military air base in Iran

Hamadan Airbase or Shahrokhi Airbase or Noje Airbase is an Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force base located 47 km north of Hamadan in the Hamadān Province. The airbase is named after Captain Mohammad Noje who was the first IRIAF pilot to be killed in action on August 16, 1979. The Nojeh coup plot took place there in 1980.

Operation Morvarid was an operation launched by the Iranian Navy and Air Force against the Iraqi Air Defence sites on 28 November 1980 in response to Iraq positioning radar and monitoring equipment on the Al-Bakr and Khor-al-Amaya oil rigs to counter Iranian air operations. The operation resulted in a victory for Iran, which managed to destroy both oil rigs as well as much of the Iraqi Navy and inflicted significant damage to Iraqi ports and airfields.

Operation Kaman 99 military operation

Operation Alborz, more commonly known by the code-name Operation Kaman 99, was an operation launched by the Iranian Air Force in retaliation to Iraqi surprise aerial attacks on Iran the day before which marked the beginning of the 8-year-long Iran–Iraq War.

Gulf War air campaign

The air campaign of the Gulf War, also known as the 1991 bombing of Iraq, was an extensive aerial bombing campaign from 17 January 1991 to 23 February 1991. The Coalition of the Gulf War flew over 100,000 sorties, dropping 88,500 tons of bombs, widely destroying military and civilian infrastructure. The air campaign was commanded by USAF Lieutenant General Chuck Horner, who briefly served as Commander-in-Chief – Forward of U.S. Central Command while General Schwarzkopf was still in the United States. The British air commanders were Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Wilson and Air Vice-Marshal Bill Wratten. The air campaign had largely finished by 23 February 1991 when the coalition invasion of Kuwait took place.

Jalil Zandi Iranian general

Brig. General Jalil Zandi (1951–2001) was a fighter pilot in the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force who served during all of the Iran–Iraq War. His record qualifies him as an ace and the most successful pilot of that conflict in air-to-air combat. It also made him the highest-scoring pilot in the history of the F-14 Tomcat.

Yadollah Javadpour Iranian flying ace

Major Yadollah Javadpour was a fighter pilot in the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, serving for the duration of the Iran–Iraq War. His record qualifies him as an ace and one of the most successful pilots of that conflict.

Al-Taqaddum Air Base Iraqi airbase

Al Taqaddum Airbase, or Al Taqaddum AB, , is an airbase that is located in central Iraq, approximately 74 kilometers west of Baghdad, at Habbaniyah. The airfield is served by two runways 13,000 and 12,000 feet (3,700 m) long. Since 2004, it has been known as Camp Taqaddum.

H-3 airstrike

The H-3 airstrike was a surprise air attack by the Iranian Air Force during the Iran–Iraq War on 4 April 1981 against the airbases of the Iraqi Air Force at the H-3 complex in western Iraq. It is considered the most sophisticated air force operation after WWII. The Iranians claimed that they destroyed 48 Iraqi aircraft on the ground with no losses of their own.

JaDin shootdown incident Shoot down incident over Syria

The Ja'Din shootdown incident occurred on 18 June 2017, when a United States Navy F/A-18E, shot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22 Fitter with an AIM-120 AMRAAM missile after it reportedly attacked U.S. backed Syrian Democratic Forces positions in the town of Ja'Din just South of Tabqah. It would be the first time the US downed a manned aircraft since 1999 and the first with the F/A-18E variant.


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