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
Bomb the Other Side of the Runway!
The Democratic Republic of Congo has seen next to no peace since its independence in 1960. While a series of bitter secessionist wars — involving large numbers of West European mercenaries, and then the CIA and its paramilitaries of Cuban origin — dominated the headlines in the 1960s, ever... Read more
Drones Are Dropping Like Flies From the Sky Over Syria
Syria is buzzing with drones. There are days when the people of Idlib governorate can simultaneously see Russian Orlan tactical UAVs, Iranian Ababil, Mohajeer and Shahed-129s and CIA or U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reapers circling the same air space. It’s not much different over southern Syria. There it’s Hezbollah... Read more
Confusion in the Air and on the Ground as U.S. and Syrian Planes Clashed
On June 18, 2017, a U.S. Navy fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane over southern Syria. The incident was a direct result of the often-murky relations between the different parties fighting in Syria. From the American standpoint, the crucial reason for an American fighter to open fire at... Read more
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