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Iranian F-14 Tomcat Units in Combat

Iranian F-14 Tomcat Units in Combat Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2004 Title Iranian F-14 Tomcat Units in Combat
Author Tom Cooper & Farzad Bishop Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2004 ISBN 1-84176-787-5
Format 96 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $19.95


Designed as a long range, far reaching interceptor and fleet defender, the F-14 Tomcat spent most of its operational life as a deterrent and saw only limited combat over Libya and Iraq. Or did it?

This is the story of the only Tomcats to be exported outside of US service, to the Air Forces of the Shah of Iran. Not long after these aircraft had been put into service, the Shah was deposed and an Islamic Republic assumed control of the country and its resources. When Saddam Hussein seized on the opportunity to exploit the turmoil inside Iran, the new government put its Air Force and especially its Tomcats into service to defend its skies from the Iraqi Air Force.

According to the kill appendix, from 1980 to 1988, the Iranian Tomcats have 159 confirmed kills, most of which were Iraqi combat aircraft. What is also noteworthy were the number of Soviet/Russian Air Force aircraft that were also downed, including a fair number of MiG-25 Foxbats, the very aircraft that the Shah of Iran wanted to keep out of his skies.

Iranian F-14 Tomcat Units in Combat

This title goes into fascinating detail on the operational employment and the extensive logistics and engineering required to keep these aircraft operational. In fact, more recently, the Iranian F-14s have been modified to carry the HAWK missile as stocks of the AIM-54 Phoenix are all but depleted. According to the book, even the Iranians saw the value of the Tomcat as an air-to-ground machine and have created a unique air-to-surface missile for the F-14 using the body of the Hawk and the warhead of a Mk.117 bomb.

The table of contents maps out the coverage of this well-illustrated title:

  • The Requirement
  • First Kills
  • Three-To-One
  • Attrition
  • Crippling The Weasel
  • The Fog of Disinformation

In addition to the operational summaries, the book is also has a nice selection of color photos of the Tomcat in the Shah's (IIAF) service and in Islamic Republic of Iran (IRIAF) service. Color plates provide a look at the 'traditional' desert camouflage scheme that the Iranian Tomcats wore through most of their operational lives, plus a look at the current blue/grey schemes.

This is a fascinating read for the aviation historian and Tomcat lover. Recommended!

My sincere thanks to Motorbooks International for this review sample!