Shahid Nojeh Airbase, Hamadan
Shahrokhi Air Base, 3rd Tactical Air Base
The Hamadan Air Base (N34°52'05.40" E48°33'08.31") is located outside of the city of Hamadan. This base is part of the Western Area Command of the Iranian Air Force. The base is operated by the civil government. There is one asphalt runway at the base (3229 meters x 45 meters). There are two additional airfields/bases approximately 30 miles north of Hamadan that also serve military purposes. This is where Shahroki Air Base is located.
There were three tactical squadrons (33d and 34th TFS and 31st TRS) located at Hamadan/Shahrokhi which fly F-4Ds, F-4Es, and RF-4Es. This base is also reported to house a rescue squadron and a Base Flight, which uses an AB-212. As of 2008 an unknown squadron with Su-24 was also reported to be station at the base.
During the first US-Iraq War, Ex-Iraqi AF pilots fled to Iran, and those planes that have not been put to use to the Iranian Air Force, these would be primarily the Su-20 and Su-22 Fitter aircraft not absorbed into the IRIAF, have been stored at Hamadan/Shahrokhi.
Frederick W. Kagan et al reported in December 2015 that "The Iranian armed forces appear to be allowing Russian aircraft to use their military airfields in support of combat operations over Syria. This development is remarkable: Iran is one of the most virulently anti-colonial regimes in the world, and yet it is allowing a former colonial power that had partitioned Persia with Great Britain to place military forces on its territory. But Russia likely requires access to an airfield in Iran to support its military operations in the region, and Tehran seems willing to permit it. Contrary to Western analysts’ arguments that Russia is marginalizing Iran in Syria or even driving it out, Russia appears to be more dependent militarily on maintaining a strong relationship with Tehran than has been previously thought.
"Iranian fighters have been escorting Russian bombers as they transit Iranian airspace for some time, as can be seen in a video filmed and released by the Russian air force (reported by The Aviationist). Military aviation specialist Babak Taghvaei reports (as cited by The Aviationist) that Russian Tu-95MS Bear, Tu-160 Blackjack, and Tu-22M Backfire bombers have flown a southwesterly path through Iranian airspace since late November on their way to missions against rebel and Islamic state forces in Syria..."
"One such combat aircraft, a Russian Su-34 “Fullback” strike fighter, was seen on the main parking apron of Shahid Nojeh Air Base in the northwestern province of Hamedan, Iran on November 23, 2015 and remained there for at least two days. An Il-76 “Candid” transport aircraft arrived likely in the afternoon or evening of November 24. Both had departed by December 5, according to AllSource analysts."
Russian upper house lawmakers were ready to ratify an agreement with Iran to deploy the Russian Aerospace Forces’ grouping at the Hamadan airbase, a Russian senator on the security committee said 16 August 2016. Russia's Ministry of Defense confirmed earlier in the day its Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bombers and Su-34 strike aircraft took off from the Hamadan airfield to conduct airstrikes against terrorist groups in Syria. "Similar to the ratification of the agreement with Syria on the deployment of our air group, ratification with Iran may be required. The Federation Council I think is ready to make this decision," Sen. Viktor Ozerov told RIA Novosti. A few days before, Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted for ratification by the lower house an agreement with Syria on the deployment of Russia’s air grouping in the Arab republic.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed on 16 August 2016 that it had deployed Tu-22M3 bombers and Su-34 strike fighters in Iran and these aircraft have already been used to carried out airstrikes against Daesh in Syria. "We know that the chances of Daesh and other terrorist organizations obtaining anti-aircraft weapons are minimal, but nevertheless, using only one military base [Hmeymim, Syria] bears some limited risks for our Aerospace Forces," Sen. Viktor Ozerov told RIA Novosti, adding that the base in Iran would give the Russian forces "more options for striking blows" against militants in Syria. According to Ozerov, the conclusion of such an agreement with Iran reflects the depth of the Russia-Iran cooperation. "The cooperation of Russia and the state [Iran] located in such a volatile region will bring benefits to the overall situation in the Middle East," Ozerov added.
On August 17, 2016, Russian Su-34 bombers carried out strikes from the Hamadan airfield on the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran against targets of the Daesh terrorist group in the province of Deir ez-Zor. Aircraft carried high-explosive bombs OFAB-500.
The decision to allow Russian bombers to fly out of Shahid Nojeh air base near Hamadan was made following a directive by the country’s Supreme National Security Council, which is chaired by President Hassan Rohani and includes the heads of the judiciary, the army, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and other powerful institutions. Council spokesman Hossein Naghavi Hosseini said on August 16 -- the first of two days so far on which strikes were launched from near Hamadan -- that Tehran and Moscow had “very good cooperation” against terrorists in Syria that is increasing in scope.
The Russian Defense Ministry deployed Tu-22M strategic bombers to the Hamadan airfield in Iran. The first combat sorties from the base were conducted on August 16. According to the Defense Ministry, aircraft bombed positions of Daesh and al-Nusra Front terrorists in Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor and Idlib.
Hamadan, the 3rd tactical airfield of the Iranian Air Force, has a more advanced infrastructure than Hmeymim in Syria. It has two air strips (3.9 and 4.3 km) against one air strip (2.8 km) at Hmeymim. There are also advanced facilities for maintaining military equipment, including ammo storages and large parking places for aircraft. The two airstrips facilitate aircraft take-off and landing. They widen the range of weather conditions for the aircraft and guarantee safe take-off for warplanes with full payloads.
All of the above boost the combat capabilities of the aviation. When Russian Tu-22M bombers flew from an airfield in Russia’s Mozdok they could carry 2.5-6 tons of bombs and attacked 1-2 targets. The distance between the Hamadan base and target areas in Syria is nearly 1,000 km. Russian sources claim that a Tu-22M bomber can take off with some 20 tons of bombs and destroy several targets.
The use of the Hamadan airfield is the first time that Iran’s territory has been used by foreign military forces since 1946. At the same time, the use of the Iranian airbase does not mean that Russia would abandon Hmeymim. A Russian task force will be permanently stationed at Hmeymim. An agreement on this was submitted for ratification to the Russian parliament.
Iranian officials have publicly dismissed questions over the legality of the Russians' use of the military facility and concerns about compromising sovereignty, saying the move does not violate the constitution, which explicitly prohibits allowing foreign countries to establish military bases inside the country. They insist that Iran is not handing over its Shahid Nojeh air base to Russia.
Alex Vatanka, a senior Iran analyst at the Washington-based Middle East Institute, told RFE/RL the cooperation with Russia was likely to present a significant challenge for Iranian officials to explain. “This notion that Iran as an Islamic republic works with Christian Russia and operates hand in hand [with Russia] in another Muslim country, in Syria, it just raises a host of difficult questions that surely will be difficult for days and weeks to come for the Iranian regime to justify,” Vatanka said.
The influential speaker of Iran’s parliament, Ali Larijani, reacted strongly to concerns raised by a fellow conservative lawmaker, Heshmatollah Falahatpishe, who questioned the cooperation with Russia while describing Moscow's foreign policy as “very different” and “turbulent and volatile at times.” Larijani was quoted by Iranian media as saying: "Based on Article 146 of the constitution, establishing any foreign military base in the country is banned, and we haven’t given a military base to anyone ... The fact that we cooperate with Russia as our ally on regional issues, such as Syria, does not mean that we have provided Russia with a military base”.
Russia decided to use the Hamadan airfield in Iran to prevent terrorists from spying on its strategic aircraft taking part in the Moscow-led counterterrorism operation in Syria, the Vzglyad newspaper asserted 17 August 2016. The business daily maintained that spying appears to have become a major issue since some radical groups fighting in Syria have lately succeeded in hiding from incoming Russian airstrikes. This, according to the media outlet, seems to indicate that someone has been tracking Russian strategic aircraft and sharing this information with the militants.
"We would rather not point fingers but jihadists and 'moderate' rebels who joined them have managed to hide from Russian warplanes suspiciously too often. This could only be done if they have access to satellite surveillance data," the business daily suggested. Vzglyad emphasized that radical groups lack equipment, particularly satellites and electronic warfare systems, needed to track long-range bombers as they take off from the Engels Air Force Base located east of the Russian city of Saratov. "There are grounds to assume that someone interested and generous could provide this information to those who fight against Assad," the media outlet noted.
There were technical problems in the use of Hamadan. Russian bombers had been using the Iranian base for refueling during the transport of hardware to the Hmeimim airbase in Syria before the start of the operation there last fall without incident. “Originally, the base was used as a staging airfield to refuel our aircraft. The same happened [now] in the case of Tu-22M3, which made a stopover there to have some technical work done and to set off on their combat missions,” said Nina Mamedova, head of the Iran section at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies.
After the first two days of sorties in August 2016, however, a number of technical problems arose. According to Yevseyev, several steps would have to be taken to ensure the full-fledged operation of the Russian aircraft — including the setting up of a command post in Iran with the relevant communication channels and the construction of a hangar to store ammunition for the Tu-22M3 aircraft, which also would need to be serviced and guarded.
Finally, the question of the status of Russian troops serving in Iran would need to be resolved. “In case there is any incident, serious problems would ensue. They do not have diplomatic immunity as our soldiers in Syria do,” Yevseyev said. One solution might be for Russia to formally lease and use the airbase, but this would require the parliaments of the two countries to adopt a treaty specifying all the technical and diplomatic aspects of Russian’s presence in Iran, including the status of its diplomats.
Russian combat aviation will no longer be using Iran’s Hamadan air base in the fight against Islamic State militants in Syria, according to an announcement made on 22 August 2016 by Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj.-Gen. Igor Konashenkov. In his statement, Konashenkov said that the tasks set for the Tu-22M3 long-range bombers and Su-34 strike aircraft flying from the base have been accomplished. The aircraft that performed sorties from Hamadan returned to Russia. Konashenkov left open the possibility that the Iranian airbase may be used again, however, depending on the situation in Syria.
Russia’s use of the air base and subsequent quick withdrawal from it is tied to a breakdown in relations between Moscow and Tehran. According to military analyst and deputy head of the CIS Institute Vladimir Yevseyev, Tehran was irritated by the failure of Russian political leaders to agree on their public statements with their Iranian counterparts. “Tehran is a very tricky partner, and information for the media needs to be released jointly. They should have organized a media appearance by Iranian Ambassador to Moscow Mehdi Sanayee and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a joint statement about the use of the airbase. Instead, what we did was to unilaterally give the information to the media via the military,” Yevseyev said.
A Revolutinary Iranian Account of Hamedan
To the west of Iran where the sun sets behind the crest of “Alvand Hill”, an ancient city was born, which on the scrolls of the hearts was named “Hamedan”. Although this city had different names in the cornices and historical scrolls of 3000 years ago to date, only a single one has survived the ages and overpowering shadows of Alvand.
Hamedan is the Old Man of cities. The capital of Media was Ecbatana, or Hamedan. The Persian, and afterwards the Parthian monarchs, made Ecbatana their summer residence, to avoid the excessive heat of Susa and Ctesiphon. On the road between Bagdat and Hamedan was an antient monument, said to be that of Samiramis, at a place called Bagistana.
This cradle of civilization has recorded many sweet and bitter events from the days of the labyrinths of the seven forts of the Medes to the cool summer days of the Achaemenid’s capital and from the devastating assault of the Moguls and the massacre of the people in the 6th Century Hijjara during the Seljuqids to the occupation of Hamedan by the Red Army and so on until the historical presence of the people and combatants of the Province in the most brilliant history of Islamic Iran, i.e. eight years of Sacred Defense.
Hamedan is also the reflection of Iran’s wisdom and knowledge, from the entry of Islam and acceptance of the Prophet (PBUH)’s guiding light until the age of Islamic philosophy and wisdom versus the Greek philosophy and the brilliance of Avicenna’s and the age of literary and spiritual passion mirrored in the letters of “Badi Al Zaman Hamedani”, Baba Taher’s quatrains and essays of “Ein Al Qozzatt” While these mirrors were broken time and time again or burnt like Ein Al Qozzatt, but their teachings were not lost and reached the generation of the Imam of epics and wisdom, who knew well how to honor these paths.
According to Iranian accounts, that generation accompanying Imam Khomeini, the unique reformist of the Iranian history, by grasping the messages of Koran and inspired by the teachings of Ashoura, burrowed the depth of history and thus quenched their thirst from the limpid waters of movement that originated from the heart of Abbas (AS) to reach the events of February 1979. With the victory of the Islamic Revolution and defeat of the imperialism’s stronghold, the Zionist theoreticians of White House, in an unprecedented union with the east, equipped the Ba’athist army of Iraq in the aim of overturning the newly established regime; and with the illusion of repeating Qadessiah, Saddam fired the first artillery shell on 22 September 1980 towards Iran. At the same time, the flights of the enemy bombers over the Iranian cities and airports heralded the news of an unequal and cowardly war. In the light of the extensive Iraqi army’s onslaught, all the frontier provinces were made subject to land attack while the provinces bordering the western and southern borders were made targets of airstrikes.
The city, airport and the airbase of Hamedan were among the strategic targets of Iraq. Bombs that were dropped on the eastern limits of the city airport incited young men from all over the Province to gather round in the form of Revolutionary Guards and popular forces and to rush to the western fronts. "Whereas the enemy’s armored columns were demolishing the lives of defenseless people in Ghasre Shirin, and the fruitful palms were beheaded one by one in the tornado of explosions, the first groups of defenders were dispatched from the Province of Hamedan to stand up against the mass of tanks under the command of “Taghi Bahmani”. They were the “Few” who overcame the “enemy numbers” with the grace of God. They were the young men who proclaimed “Allah is our God” from the depth of their hearts".
In March 1980, the entry of an unknown green clad combatant who was the spiritual son of Ali (AS)’s Nahj Al Balaghe led to a great upturn in the combat management of the Hamedan Province., when the “Traveler to God” Eng. Mahmoud Shahbazi took command of the Province’s army and the war. His legendary battles in the cliffs of Tangekourak in West Guilan was named the "Dawn of the Sacred Defense". Then came the spring of 1982 and earth was resurrected once more to allow the sun of “We have granted” to shine from the east on the combatants of the third armored battalion of the brave martyr and make the Fath Al Mobin the bestowing of God’s Blessings on “Abbas Plain” and “Fakkah”.
Although the humble conqueror of Khorramshahr, Eng. Mahmoud Shahbazi, "flew to heaven" on the eve of Khorramshahr’s liberation on 24th May 1982, his disciples set up the Province’s first organized combat ready forces under the flag of Imam Hossein (AS) and under the title of Ansar Al Hossein’s Brigade. "The epic battles of the valiant warriors from the Province of Hamedan at the warfront and the popular supports behind the lines, accompanied with the perfume of incense and the feasts of embraces; and send offs became an exciting commotion,which infuriated the enemies so much that they extended the war from the western and southern frontiers to the bombardments of the cities.
"The height the enemy’s malevolence and cruelty in the war of malice versus true belief was the bombardment of people during a Friday prayers in the Hamedan’s Quds Stadium and the killing of innocent children and the fasting women during the Ramadan of the year 1982. The mass of blood stained prayer mats of the women and the mutilated bodies of the children shall bear witness to the plight of these thirsty martyrs on the Judgment Day."
In a reply to the bombardment of schools and kindergartens the pilots of the Shahid Nojeh Airbase under the command of Martyred Major General Mahmoud Khazraee bombarded the military, industrial and economic interests of Iraq. The attack on the Iraqi Airbase of Al Walid, better known as H3, deep within the heart of Iraq near the Jordanian border was a show of belief, strength and bravery of the pilots. They took off from Hamedan’s Shahid Nojeh’s Airbase and their altitude attained the heights of determination and dedication.
The importance of bombing this target, which consisted of three advanced bases, could severely affect the enemy's military capacity and inflicted huge economic damage upon it; while will affect its dignity and psychological aspects and supporters. Fourteen F-4 aircrafts took off from Shahid Nojeh Base in Hamedan with maximum ammunition. Two tanker aircraft were waiting them in the south of Lake Uremia, so that the first refueling carries were out there. Then from northern Iraq, they entered through Iraq’s territory in a low altitude and continued their way along the margin of Turkey border to reach to the meeting point of border of Syria and Turkey and Iraq. Due to the long distance, it was necessary that the fighters refuel once again close to the target and continue toward it. After completing their mission, they immediately returned toward tankers and re-fill the fuel tank, and went back to the country through the same route. Two tanker aircraft waited at the south of Lake Uremia to get fuel to the fighters for the fourth time. Now the fighters could return to their hangar without any problem.
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