UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Iranian Air Force - Iraqi Aircraft

At least 115 combat aircraft flew to Iran from Iraq during Desert Storm, out of the total of 137-149 aircraft flown to Iran or crashed enroute, including military transports and commerical airliners. According to an official Iraqi statement, the combat aircraft included 24 Mirage F-1s, 4 Su-20 Fitters, 40 Su-22 Fitters, 24 Su-24 Fencers, seven Su-25 Frogfoots, nine Mig-23 Floggers, and four Mig-29 Fulcrums. Reports that Saddam Hussein ordered 20 Tu-22 bombers to Iran appeared unfounded. The reported orders in 1992 for Mig-27, -31, Su-22, and Tu-22M aircraft were either in error or failed to come to fruition as those aircraft types did not subsequently appear in Iranian inventory. In this period close to $2 billion was reportedly spent on foreign weapons systems.

In 1993 it was reported that Russia was to provide Iran with spare parts, armaments, and operating manuals for the Iraqi jets that flew to Iran during the Gulf War. In 1993 it was also reported that China had bought an unknown number of these Mig-29s from Iran, in exchange for Chinese missile technology and a nuclear power station. The two countries had reportedly reached agreement on the exchange in late 1992, with Iran having delivered some of the Mig-29s by the end of 1992.

MiG-23Bomber fighter12
MiG-25Interceptor fighter7
MiG-29Air superiority fighter4
Mirage F-1 FranceMultipurpose fighter24
Su-20Bomber fighter4
Su-22Bomber fighter40
Su-25Close support fighter7
IL-76Strategic heavy transport15
Total number 137
In 1998 Iraq and Iran had high-level meetings to discuss ending their state of war and other matters, including Iraq's request to have its airplanes returned. Iran denied it had used any of the Iraqi fighter planes. If Iran had kept the Iraqi planes grounded for the entire time, they were probably nonfunctional. It was also possible that the Iranians might not have been able to start the engines or operate the hydraulics. Other reports suggested that some Su-24s were added to Iran's existing inventory, some Su-20/22s were in Revolutionary Guard service. The Iraqi Su-25s, Mig-23s and Mirage F-1s were thought by some to be not in service, due to age, low capability (Mig-23s) or too few numbers (Su-25). Other reports suggested that Iran had overhauled Iraq's fleet of 24 Mirage F-1EQ fighters and placed them into service. By 2000 reports emerged suggesting that Iran had in fact not incorporated the Mig-23 or Su-20/22 aircraft (at least into their regular Air Force), but had taken the Iraqi Su-24MK, Su-25K, and Mirage F-1EQ aircraft into inventory.

On 05 August 2007 Lieutenant-General Kamal al-Barzanji, Iraq's air force commander, said he hoped Iran would return some of the Iraqi warplanes that fled to Iran ahead of the Gulf War in 1991. He conceded that many of them were probably beyond repair.

Iranian authorities denied reports that the country sent three Russian Sukhoi Su-25 jets to Iraq, Mehr news agency said 09 July 2014 citing a representative of Iran's Foreign Ministry Marzieh Afkham. The New York Times cited sources in the administrations of the US and Iraq earlier in the day as saying that Iran sent the jets for Iraq to use to fight militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). The paper specified the jets participated in several operations in the eastern Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Fallujah and in the northern town of Baiji, which hosts the country’s largest refinery. They were originally owned by the Iraqi Air Force and were sent to Iran for safekeeping during the military conflict in the Persian Gulf in 1991. The newspaper also cited Pentagon spokesman John Kirby as saying that the department had evidence that Iran had sent military advisers, aircraft, weapons and ammunition to Iraq.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 01-07-2019 19:03:52 ZULU