Activity Forums Educational posts (Questions and answers) 2 classic topics The F-14 Tomcat Is One of Iran’s Favorite Fighter Jets (As In They Fly In Their

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      Tomcats have led the effort to intercept these drones. In the early 2000s, the Iranian air force stationed an F-14 squadron in Bushehr, the site of Iran’s first nuclear reactor. That squadron eventually disbanded as its Tomcats fell into disrepair, but other F-14 squadrons maintained vigil over Bushehr and two other atomic facilities as U.S. spy flights continued to probe the sites, trying to glean intelligence on Iran’s nuclear efforts .

      On April 9, 1972, Iraq and the Soviet Union signed an historic agreement. The USSR committed to arming the Arab republic with the latest weaponry. In return for sending Baghdad guns, tanks and jet fighters, Moscow got just one thing — influence … in a region that held most of the world’s accessible oil.

      (This first appeared several years ago.)

       

      In neighboring Iran, news of Iraq’s alliance with the Soviets exploded like a bomb. Ethnically Persian and predominately Shia, Iran was — and still is — a bitter rival of Iraq’s Sunni Arab establishment, which during the 1970s dominated the country’s politics.

      In Tehran, King Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi — the “shah” — moved quickly to counter Baghdad’s move. First he set loose an army of secret police in a desperate and bloody bid to quell internal dissent. And then he reached out to the United States.

      The shah wanted weapons. And not just any weapons. Himself a former military pilot, the king wanted the latest and best U.S.-made warplanes, with which the Iranian air force might dominate the Persian Gulf and even patrol as far away as the Indian Ocean.

      The Iranian leader’s appetite for planes was notorious. “He’ll buy anything that flies,” one American official said of the shah. But Pahlavi was especially keen to acquire a fighter that could fly fast enough and shoot far enough to confront Soviet MiG-25 Foxbat recon planes that had been flying over Iran at 60,000 feet and Mach 3.

      The administration of U.S. president Richard Nixon was all too eager to grant the shah’s wish in exchange for Iran’s help balancing a rising Soviet Union. Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger visited Tehran in May 1972 — and promptly offered the shah a “blank check.” Any weapons the king wanted and could pay for, he would get — regardless of the Pentagon’s own reservations and the State Department’s stringent export policies.

      That’s how, starting in the mid-1970s, Iran became the only country besides the United States to operate arguably the most powerful interceptor jet ever built — the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, a swing-wing carrier fighter packing a sophisticated radar and long-range AIM-54 Phoenix air-to-air missiles.

      It’s fair to say American policymakers quickly regretted giving Iran the F-14s. In February 1979, Islamic hardliners rose up against the shah’s police state, kidnapping 52 Americans at the U.S. embassy in Tehran and ushering the return of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The Islamic Revolution transformed Iran from an American ally to one of the United States’ most vociferous enemies.

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