News ID: 324291
Published: 0148 GMT September 23, 2022

Iran’s Air Force left Saddam with pipe dream

Iran’s Air Force left Saddam with pipe dream

Second Brigadier General Alireza Roudbari Professor of Aerospace at Shahid Sattari University of Aeronautical Engineering and head of NAHAJA’s Office for Theoretical Research and Strategic Studies

It was at 14:00 local time (1030 GMT) on September 22, 1980, when the Iraqi Air Force’s warplanes invaded the Iranian air bases and airports. Immediately, the then-commander of the Iranian Army’s Air Force, known domestically by the acronym NAHAJA, Colonel Javad Fakouri, ordered all the subordinate bases of the force to be on a state of full alert. As per the directive, all Iranian fighter jets were equipped with different kinds of bombs, rockets, missiles, and machinegun bullets in proportion to the requirements and based on the identified targets.

In less than three hours after the Iraqi Army’s air invasion against the Iranian air bases and airports, NAHAJA immediately entered the scene to react based on its operational plan titled ‘Alborz’ to destroy the air bases deep in the enemy’s soil in a tit-for-tat operation.

In the operation, eight NAHAJA bombers took off from two bases, one in the western province of Hamedan and the other in the southern province of Bushehr, and attacked two air bases in the Iraqi provinces of Basra and Amarah, making them dysfunctional.

The limited airborne operation was aimed at giving a decisive response to the Iraqi Ba'ath regime, retaliating its invasion with a proportionate attack, forcing it into giving up on the continuation of its offensive and preventing the spread of the bloodshed in areas along the western and southwestern Iranian borders. However, unfortunately, the former dictator and inexperienced and shortsighted commander of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, insisted on the continuation of the war on national television at 21:00 on the same day and announced that his "Battle of Al-Qadisiyyah” has started. Following that tactical operation and destroying the Iraqi Air Force’s combat capabilities and capacities, in September 1980, NAHAJA placed on the agenda of its command system carrying out Operation Kaman (Bow) 99, to gain an aerial dominance equal to the one acquired through Operation Alborz in least possible time. The word ‘Kaman’ was an allusion to the bow of Arash Kamangir (Arash the Archer), the Iranian legendary figure who determined the border between Iran and Turan – a historical region in Central Asia – through shooting an arrow by as far as he could, thus sacrificing his life. The figure 99 in the name of the operation pertained to the number of the pages in which the glorious Operation Alborz had been outlined and written.

In the first wave of Operation Kaman 99, 140 NAHAJA fighter jets took off from bases in Tehran, northwestern city of Tabriz, Hamedan, the southwestern city of Dezful and Bushehr and destroyed most of the enemy’s airports, air bases and air defense systems. The operation, was named after the number of the jets, 140, that took part in it and became known as Operation 140 Aircraft. This comes as the available statistics registered in the Iranian command centers indicate that on that day, the bombing, close air support, photography and air patrol missions continued throughout the day, and in total, air force logistics, by taking advantage of re-preparing aircraft for flight (turn around) generated and supported more than 382 flight missions, including 120 air patrols and coverage, 216 air-to-surface missions, four photography missions, six close air support flights, 12 refueling flights, 22 combat service support flights and two maritime patrol missions.

The operation was very remarkable and important with regard to its timing, the principle of surprise and tactical aspects. All bases involved in the operation, in a very short period of time – less than 10 hours after the Iraqi Army’s invasion, started a crushing attack against the enemy. The attack came as a surprise to the enemy and all forces that supported it behind the scenes – the Eastern and Western ones alike, and even Arab states as well as Iran itself and the friends of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Tactically speaking, the operation produced maximum effect while suffering minimum losses and led to the shelling and destruction of all identified targets with highest accuracy.

After the crushing operation, Iran gained aerial domination and prepared the ground for destroying Iraq’s economic and industrial infrastructure as well as main roads and armored and mechanized army units.

Saddam and the commanders of the Ba'ath army were cherishing the pipe dream of achieving a swift victory and occupying Iran, or at least the western and southwestern parts of the country. The wish, however, never came true and was replaced by a bitter nightmare featuring frustration, desperation and hopelessness in the minds of the Iraqi commanders. The secret to their failure was, in the long term, the timely presence of the Iranian and popular forces at the forefront of the Sacred Defense and NAHAJA’s powerful operations at the beginning of the war, particularly in the first 45 days, in the short term. On those days, Iranian forces managed to surprise Iraqi armored, infantry and mechanized units over 6,000 times in the air, on the ground and at sea. These successive operations by the Iranian Army’s Air Force were the factors that changed the war’s fate in Iran’s favor.  










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