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Iranian Tigers at War

Iranian Tigers at War Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review May 2016 Title Iranian Tigers at War
Author Babak Taghvaee Publisher Helion
Published 2016 ISBN 9781910294130
Format 64 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $29.95


For a half century, Northrop F-5 variants have remained fixtures in Iranian military aviation. Now Babak Taghvaee tells the terrific tale in his Iranian Tigers at War – fourth in Helion’s splendid new “Middle East@War” series.

The author’s credentials speak volumes.

Charged with being a threat to Iranian national security, author Babak Taghvaee “was tried,” the publisher’s biographical note reveals, “in the Islamic Revolution Court but managed to flee the country in August 2013 after being released on bail. This book is a product of the Iranian Ministry of Information historical records that he managed to hide during the period of his arrest.”

And what a book it is.

Contents commence with a brief survey of Iranian military aviation. The study then segues, post-WWII, to receipt of the country’s first modern warplanes – F-47s, F-84Gs and F-86Fs and, in the 1960s, Northrop F-5As and Bs.

Iran’s massive military build-up under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi achieved acme in the 1970s. The Imperial Iranian Air Force gained access the most modern American equipment – including F-5Es. And together with earlier versions, the country received over 300 examples.

Chaos followed the 1979 revolution. Now called the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, the service suffered significant personnel purges, equipment degradation and operational deterioration.

That’s when Saddam Hussein struck. And war between Iran and Iraq consumes the bulk of the book. Author Taghvaee competently and chronologically chronicles F-5 combat operations. Names. Places. Dates. It’s all there.

Peace brought new challenges. With America’s arms embargo in place, Iran continued its ongoing quest to keep F-5s flying. These included reverse-engineered variants – and surprisingly successful efforts to obtain spares directly from the United States between 2000 and 2011. Taghvaee recaps all.

The result? “Nearly 40 years since entering service at Tabriz AB,” the author observes, IRIAF F-5Es “continue to provide a significant contribution to the air defense of Iran’s northern borders.”

Taghvaee’s excellent effort includes extended captions, a glossary, tables and selected bibliography.  Sixteen superb color profiles by Tom Cooper also sample Iranian F-5 warpaint. Color and B&W photos further season the study. And nine maps augment action accounts.

“Now, 47 years after the first Northrop F-5A/Bs entered service in Iran, 39 years after delivery of the first F-5E/Fs and nearly 20 years after their originally scheduled replacement date, five sub-variants of these two types remain in service with the air force and represent no less then 33.5% of its total fighter force.”

Get the whole story. Buy this brilliant little book.

Rabidly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Casemate Publishing for this review sample!