Radar Upgrades for F-14s
OE Watch Commentary: Iran’s time as a chief American ally in the Middle East, when together with Israel it was a pillar of regional security, is an increasingly distant memory for most Americans, but one legacy of that former partnership is Iran’s stable of F-14 Tomcats. The Shah of Iran, who himself was a former pilot, placed a $2 billion order for 80 Grumman F-14A Tomcats in 1974, five years before his ouster in the Islamic Revolution.
Many F-14 pilots fled Iran during the Revolution and those in the United States for training often chose not to return against the backdrop of purges and summary execution of the Shah’s senior officers. While Iranian F-14s saw some service during the Iran-Iraq War, inadequate maintenance took its toll, so that by 1986 Iran had only 25 operational F-14s.
While the United States and much of the rest of the world retired their F-14s nearly a decade ago, the Islamic Republic of Iran—cut off from new imports for both financial and political reasons—has worked to refurbish, restore, and upgrade its remaining F-14s. From within their main F-14 base in Isfahan, the Iranian Air Force long ago modified the F-14 with bomb racks. Now, according to the excerpted article, the Iranian Air Force has upgraded its fleet with a new, more powerful radar system. While the capability of the new radar is unclear, it certainly marks a significant improvement over the F-14A’s original radar technology, which is now more than four decades old. The Iranian government is likewise claiming that it can maintain and produce spare parts for every other F-14 system, suggesting that a platform that has become a museum piece elsewhere in the world will see many more years of service in the skies over and around Iran. End OE Watch Commentary (Rubin)
Source: “Nasab-e Radar ‘Melli’ Ruye F-14” (Installation of ‘National’ Radar on F-14s), Mashreghnews.ir, 24 February 2015. http://goo.gl/mPRlA9
Installation of ‘National’ Radar on F-14s
According to a Mashregh report, Colonel Asghar Shafiei, deputy commander of the regular army’s 8th Air Base in Isfahan, stated with relation to Iran’s self-sufficiency, because of the complex nature of the specialties in the [Air] force and especially with regard to aircraft and equipment, before the revolution, Iran was completely and entirely at the mercy of foreign countries like America and some European countries. Yet, after the revolution, imposed sanctions cut those ties. But these dependencies had caused the Air Force to stop thinking and innovation, and so officials decided to establish an organization for [internal] jihad and self-sufficiency to combat dependency. Shafiei stated aviation science is an advanced technology, and said, they kept true to this progress, and it is necessary for equipment, expertise, and support…. The assistant operations chief for the 8th Air Wing in Isfahan said all the aircraft in this organization will have an overhaul, and we won’t have any dependence on any other country. And at the Isfahan base where we have the F-14s, we have reached a point where we can say with certainty that Isfahan is the only place [where] these aircraft are overhauled and manufactured now, in the world.” He added, that we have gone from zero to 100 percent of the maintenance in production of spare parts, airframe, engine, landing gear and avionics and radar and all digital systems, and we can service and replace everything that needs to be replaced, and the plane after thousands of man-hours of work is ready for flight testing…. Shafiei further stated that now we are upgrading the F-14 and we have reached a point where we have a ‘national’ radar and we have constructed this national radar system for the F-14, and this radar was tested on the plane, and it has passed the test, and the F-14s on which we have installed this radar system are now flying.