Iran Conducts F-14A Tomcat Training Exercise. Top Gun Re-Lived?

The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force(IRIAF) is the only operator of the F-14A Tomcat, and they recently conducted a large exercise involving the aircraft. Air Forces conducting training exercises using their aircraft are very common, so what is the fuss about? Well, the exercise in itself is not a big deal, but it is in this case, the aircraft used in the exercise.
To Aviation Enthusiasts, the words ‘Top Gun’ immediately paint a picture within the mind, of a very young Tom Cruise Flying around in a F-14A Tomcat, manoeuvering the US Naval aircraft like a movie hero really should. The two things one can take away from the movie, to be remembered forever probably are, the realistic dogfight simulations, and of course the F-14A Tomcat itself.

Hollywood Actor Tom Cruise in a Top Gun Poster with the F-14A Tomcat in the background

The F-14A Tomcat was an Interceptor aircraft manufactured by Grumman Aerospace corporation and designed to suit the requirements of the US Navy at the time – An Interceptor and Fleet defence aircraft which could be based off an aircraft carrier and could easily take on the Soviet fighter aircraft, Mainly the MIG-21 and MIG-25, and successful it was, very successful. In the 1980’s F-14 Tomcat’s were used by the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force in the Iran-Iraq war, in which they shot down at least 160 Iraqi aircraft, while only around 12 Tomcats were lost. The F-14 first flew at the end of 1970, and went on to become a legend, having served mainly with the US Navy, and to an extent with Iran.

A US Navy F-14A Tomcat on approach to Land on the Aircraft carrier

The last flight of this legend with the US Navy was just over a decade ago, on 22nd September of 2006, but the Tehran based engineers have managed to keep the legendary bird alive and kicking, with a few avionics and weapons upgrades developed locally in Iran, and the IRIAF plans to keep the aircraft going till 2030, which makes it seem like they are asking for a lot from the nearly half-a-century-old design, especially given that just 35 of the 62 F-14s in IRIAF possession were air worthy as per a 2013 report.

US Navy F-14A Tomcat preparing for take-off aboard USS Constellation

The 62 F-14A Tomcats are based out of TFB.8 (Tactical Fighter Base 8) near Eshahan in central Iran. Even though they have 35 airworthy aircraft, only 6 were actually used in these exercises which went on for three days. Through this exercise, pilots has a chance to renew their skills of launching the AIM-9 and AIM-7 air-to-air missiles from the aircraft – a first in nearly 10 years.
On the first night of the exercise, the F14s simulated HVACAP(High-Value Asset Combat Air Patrol), BARCAP( Barrier Combat Air Patrol) and CAP(Combat Air Patrol) and also Escorted F-4Es. On the second morning, the F-14s engaged with MIG 29s and on the third day, they fired missiles and escorted air-tankers.

IRIAF F-14A Tomcat escorting a Soviet TU-95 Bear D

Though a legend of the past decades, the effectiveness of the F-14A Tomcat in today’s age might be very questionable, with more modern aircraft in Air Forces all over the world, but it definitely is nice to see the F-14 A back in the air.
Image Credits : Google Images, The Aviationist
Info Credit : The Aviationist

‘Steel flyover Beda’ gathers steam amidst opposition.

In the aftermath of thousands of Bengaluru’s citizens protesting against the steel flyover planned by the BDA (Bangalore Development Authority), a few hundred citizens turned up at a rally organized in favor of the flyover. While the city remains divided on options over the steel flyover, the flyover seems to have hit a spot of bother, this time with the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority.
Extension of the steel flyover violates buffer zone norms of hebbal Lake, says Karnataka Lake conservation and development authority.
The authority on lakes in the state said that it is mandatory for the BDA to take permission from them before commencing work on extending the flyover.
“if the steel flyover is extended without seeking our permission, we will file a criminal case against the BDA commissioner” said a senior KLCDA official.
Since hebbal Lake is larger than 200 hectares, around 50 meters of buffer space should be maintained as a no development zone, according to KLCDA, National green tribunal and the State high court.
The group which had organized the Human Chain protests, Citizens for Bengaluru also conducted a ballot box campaign which saw 41,848 vote against the construction of the steel flyover. Even after facing opposition from thousands of people, the Government and BDA remain unfazed, as they have officially handed over the work order to the contractors – L&T, and work on the flyover is expected to begin in the first week of November.