F-14 Tomcats Escort Russians Bombers Headed To Syria
Recent video from the Russian Defence Ministry shows their long range bombers being escorted by Iranian F-14 interceptors over Iran. The Russian bombers cross Iranian airspace on their 9 and 1/2 hour missions flying from Engels airbase and back using the Iraq-Iran-Caspian Sea corridor to reach terrorist targets in Syria.
(see video below / Tomcats appear @1:21 mark)
The sole foreign customer for the Tomcat was the Imperial Iranian Air Force, during the reign of the last Shah of Iran. U.S. President Richard Nixon made a visit in 1972, during which Iran was offered the latest in American military technology. The IIAF picked the F-14 Tomcat, ordering a total of 80 and 714 Phoenix missiles as well as spare parts and replacement engines for 10 years. 79 Tomcats were delivered.
The Iranian Tomcats were very successful during the Iran - Iraq war but by 1986 only 30 F-14s were reported to be still flying, of which only half were fully mission capable. FlightGlobal estimated that approximately 28 were in service in 2014.
In January 2007, the U.S. Department of Defence suspended the sales of spare F-14 parts over concerns of they would end up in Iran but technicians of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force have still managed to overhaul a few of the jets.
They took some 35000 person-hour work to overhaul one recently at Shahid Babaie Air Base in Isfahan. They have also added some domestic avionics upgrades and weapons that is expected to extend the life of their Tomcats until 2030.