November 29, 2007:
Iran lost another of its F-4
fighters to a training accident on November 26th. Both crewmen died. Iran still
has about 30-40 F-4s [PHOTO] in service (out of 202 available when the U.S. cut off
support in 1979). There are a smaller (10-20) number of F-14s (out of 77).
There may be 20-30 F-5s still operational (out of 166). Iran has gone to great
lengths to obtain spare parts to keep its 1970s vintage U.S. warplanes flying.
Despite all the oil revenue, there has not been sufficient cash to restock the
air force with modern aircraft from Russia and China. Some warplanes have been
obtained from those sources, but when flown against the U.S. aircraft, it was
obvious why American fighters have dominated the skies for the last sixty
Keeping the old birds operational meant that hours
in the air had to be restricted. Thus the pilots do not get the same level of
training as their Western counterparts. So why bother keeping all those old
clunkers flyable? Mainly because it intimidates the Arabs across the Gulf. That
is something the Iranians have been doing for thousands of years, and it's a
hard habit to give up.