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Sunday, May 19, 2024  
10 Dhul-Qadah 1445  

Why Israel targeted Isfahan airbase? History holds the answer

Iran is the only country besides the US to operate F-14 Tomcat fighter jets

Tensions between Israel and Iran escalated sharply as Israeli forces launched a missile attack on the Isfahan airbase in central Iran. While the Iranian air defense system reportedly intercepted several missiles, eyewitnesses confirmed explosions at the base.

Two US officials told CBS News that at least one missile struck within Iran, though the remained ‘tighlipped’ about the targets.

Details regarding the extent of damage at the Isfahan airbase remain unclear. Iranian authorities deny any missiles reached their intended target. However, the choice of target speaks volumes about the strategic importance of this operation.

The Isfahan airbase houses Iran’s fleet of American-made F-14 Tomcat fighter jets, a point of contention between the two nations.

Iran is the only country besides the United States to possess these advanced aircraft, a legacy of the pre-revolution era when Iran and Israel were close allies under the Shah’s rule.

In the 1970s, the US supplied Iran with 80 F-14 Tomcats. However, the Islamic Revolution of 1979 drastically altered the geopolitical landscape. The new Iranian regime initially grounded the American-trained F-14 pilots, but the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war forced them back into service.

The F-14s proved instrumental in the war, inflicting significant damage on Iraqi forces. Iranian pilot Jalil Zandi even emerged as the most successful F-14 pilot in history, surpassing the records of his American counterparts.

 The sensitivity surrounding Iran’s F-14s even found its way into popular culture
The sensitivity surrounding Iran’s F-14s even found its way into popular culture

Despite the US embargo on spare parts, Iran has managed to keep its F-14 fleet operational for decades, resorting to smuggling and, more recently, developing its own parts.

The US, wary of Iran’s possession of these powerful jets, has gone to great lengths to ensure no other F-14s fall into their hands, even going so far as to completely dismantle retired Tomcats.

The sensitivity surrounding Iran’s F-14s even found its way into popular culture. In the movie “Top Gun: Maverick,” Tom Cruise’s character steals an F-14 from an enemy nation after his plane is shot down, highlighting the enduring significance of these fighter jets in the complex relationship between the US and Iran.

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Iran Israel tensions

F 14 Tomcat

Isfahan airbase