Commentary by Mark Pyruz on IHS Jane's 360 report: "Iranian Phantom jet strikes the Islamic State in Iraq" by Gareth Jennings, dated 30NOV14.
File photo of IRIAF McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II, of the type supporting Iran-led coalition forces against ISIL in Iraq
Photo: Mohammad Razzazan
COMMENTARY: Earlier in the year there'd been rumors of IRIAF participation in the Iraqi theater of war against ISIL; now with this recently provided Al-Jazeera footage there exists evidence of just such an intervention taking place, in support of Iran-led coalition forces.
The Al-Jazeera footage supports the claim IRIAF F-4E Phantom II fighter-bombers have conducted at least six combat sorties, assisting to repel an ISIL counterattack against Iran-led forces near the town of Sa'adiya, Iraq.
Aviation writer Babak T states this fall's IRIAF "gunnery training competition" was scrubbed in the lead-up to these combat missions flown against ISIL in Iraq. Source also indicates IRIAF Su-24MK "Fencer-D" aircraft from 72nd TFS have been shifted from Shiraz/Shahid Dowran TAB 7 to a forward base in western Iran for potential combat missions against ISIL in Iraq.
IRIAF F-4E aircraft of 31st TFS for a previous year's gunnery training competition at Tabriz/Shaheed Fakouri TAB 2
Photo: Babak T
There are a couple of errors in Mr. Jenning's report at IHS Jane's 360 deserving correction:
1) Sukhoi Su-25 "Frogfoot" close air support aircraft provided by Iran to Iraq were supplied by IRGC-AF, not IRIAF.
2) Open source evidence exists of quantities and types of Iranian-supplied weaponry in Iraq in excess of those identified by Mr. Jenning.
Gareth Jennings provides an opinion that the two coalitions against ISIL-- one U.S.-led and one Iran-led-- "should they happen to cross paths over the coming weeks and months it would no doubt muddy still further an already complicated conflict." This UOI writer sees combat missions flown by IRIAF over Iraq suggesting a level of communication if not coordination with American military forces, in at least as much as pre-informing mission planning. Same applies to SyAAF strikes against ISIL in Syria, where on a given day SyAAF flies combat sorties against ISIL positions at Raqqa [click HERE], subsequently undertaken by U.S.-led coalition forces [click HERE].
The IRIAF intervention brings into focus two aspects of the Iran-led coalition against ISIL in Iraq:
1) The Iran-led coalition against ISIL in Iraq comprises an Artesh component, as addition to the IRGC-QF component most often made visible by Western and Iranian media sources. With IRGC-QF supplied Su-25 aircraft apparently returned to Iran for service/repair, IRIAF now appears engaged.
2) Whereas the U.S.-led approach to the war against ISIL in Iraq and Syria is reportedly under constant review [click HERE], subject to a forced change at the SecDef position [click HERE] and a pushback for commencement date of U.S.-supported Iraqi offensive from spring to somewhere unspecified in late 2015 [click HERE], the Iranians appear to take a more here-and-now approach to their war effort. As in Syria, more limited, incremental gains are pursued using combinations of reliable ground forces-- be they existing elements of host nation regular army, paramilitary police and security forces, and allied sectarian militias.
Old workhorse American-made F-4 Phantom II aircraft, as well as American training provided during the 1970s, continue to serve as the basis in providing Iran with an air force apparently still capable of effecting tactical results on the battlefield. Additionally, Iranian technical improvisation in keeping these 40-year-old jets operational without manufacturer support, while engineering what are essentially improvised air-launched weapons, should not be so readily dismissed as has so often been the case among Western defense circles.
Iranian-built Ghassed type precision-guided munition (PGM)