Itchy Militia Wrecks Syrian Ceasefire
Hard on the heels of the sixth round of diplomatic talks in Astana – facilitated by Russia and Turkey – Hayat Tahrir Ash-Sham, an Al Qaeda-linked jihadist group in Syria, announced that it launched a “major offensive” against parts of northern Hama nominally controlled by the regime of Syrian... Read more
In 1970, Soviet Planes Intervened to Save North Yemen
September 2017 marks the second anniversary of the Russian military intervention in Syria. Foreign military observers are frequently drawing parallels between this operation and the deployment of Soviet air-defense troops and manned interceptors to Egypt in early 1970, pointing it out as the first Soviet – and thus Russian... Read more
America Has a Long Tradition of Covertly Flying Enemy Aircraft
On Sept. 6, 2017, the U.S. Air Force announced that one of its aircraft had crashed the previous day in the Nevada Test and Training Range, roughly 100 miles north of Las Vegas. Just a day earlier, two A-10s crashed during a training mission over the same range. Both... Read more
In 1986, the Iraqis Wrecked Their Own Attempt to Get an Iranian F-14
Part two of a two-part story. Read part one here. In September 1986, the Iran-Iraq War – a bloody war of attrition that involved millions of combatants and left deep scars on both sides of the front line – was about to reach its sixth anniversary. The war began... Read more
In 1986, an Iranian F-14 Pilot Defected to Iraq
Part one of a two-part story. Read part two here. On late afternoon of Sept. 2, 1986, a Grumman F-14A Tomcat operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force was reportedly shot down deep over Iraq — in an area and at the time that seemed unlikely. The... Read more
In 1981, Weather and Reporters Stymied a Complicated Air Ambush in Sudan
In reaction to Libya claiming all of the Gulf of Syrte as its territorial waters, in January 1981 U.S. president Ronald Reagan ordered the U.S. Navy to conduct a “freedom of navigation exercise” in that part of the Mediterranean Sea. During the exercise, there were dozens of tense encounters... Read more
The KGB Shipped a Sidewinder Missile by Mail to Moscow
That the Soviet-made R-3S air-to-air missile — better known in the West by its NATO-designation AA-2 Atoll — is a copy of the AIM-9B Sidewinder, originally developed and manufactured in the USA, is relatively well-known. How it came to be … isn’t so well-known. It involved the mail. The... Read more
Why Iran Really Bought F-14 Tomcats
More than 40 years after Iran acquired the F-14 Tomcat from the United States, there are still plenty of misconceptions about the deal. Most published accounts offer a simple explanation — that Iran needed F-14s to counter over-flights by Soviet-operated MiG-25R Foxbat reconnaissance aircraft. The truth is a bit... Read more
In 1964, the MiG-21 Scored Its First Kill — Against an American Oil Company
The Soviet MiG-21 is one of the most widely-produced and -exported fighter jets of all time. In the United States, the MiG-21 is perhaps best known for hunting American warplanes over Vietnam. The single-engine fighter is equally famous for its participation in various wars in the Middle East over... Read more
The Libyans Have a Different Take on Their Battle With the U.S. Navy
On Aug. 19, 1981, U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat fighters shot down two Libyan air force Su-22 fighter-bombers over the Gulf of Sidra. The American pilots’ version of the clash is well-known in the West. The Libyan view of the battle, however, remains obscure. We can fix that. In 1973,... Read more
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