Tuesday, July 1, 2014

All Iranian Su-25 Frogfoot attack planes have just deployed to Iraq

All Iranian Su-25 Frogfoot attack planes have just deployed to Iraq

While the article from The Aviationist has several small errors (including the number of Su-25s in service in Iran and what variants they are), it is very interesting and does finally confirm something:

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps has joined the war against ISIS.

For those scratching your heads about these aircraft, here is the short version: Iran actually has two separate large aviation forces.

One, is the IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force), which is the conventional air arm that provides primary air defense for Iran and has a fairly large (and varied) fleet of combat aircraft. This is the branch directly descended from the Imperial Iranian Air Force during the Shah's rule of Iran.

Second, is the IRGCAF (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force), which is a part of the larger Revolutionary Guard Corps. This force answers directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran and it's specific goal is to "defense the Revolution" aka the government, from outside threats. The IRGCAF has a relatively small/irregular force of combat aircraft for which the Su-25K/UBKs are the most potent. This force also controls the majority of Iran's ballistic missile forces (ranging from R-17/Shahab-1/2 to the Shahab-3 and Sejil MRBMs).

The deployment of these aircraft to Iraq is important and ground-breaking for several reasons:

1.) This is the first time the IRGCAF has ever deployed to foreign soil and represents an opportunity for IRGCAF pilots to get real combat experience with their Su-25K/UBKs for the first time.

2.) Given Iraq's recent purchase of an unknown number of similar Su-25s, who better to help train Iraqi pilots and maintainers than the IRGCAF? Further, once the Iraqi Su-25s become fully operational, the two forces can launch more coordinated attacks with these deadly close-air support aircraft and start dealing some major damage to the ISIS's forces.

For some additional "geewhiz", this is actually NOT the first time Iranian air power has deployed to foreign soil. During the late 1960's and early 1970's, the Imperial Iranian Air Force deployed transport/light attack helicopters and fighter-bombers to the Sultanate of Oman. Why? The Sultan of Oman at the time was facing a major rebellion from Marxist/Communist rebels seeking to carve out their territory independent of Oman in the Dhofar region. The Shah of Iran had a strong relationship with the then-Sultan of Oman and was more than happy to deploy a fairly substantial number of military forces to aid in his struggles against these rebels.

                           (Photo Courtesy the Air Combat Information Group)

So, it seems that for the second time in recent decades, Iran's military is providing support to a friendly government in the form of much needed air power...Amazing how some things remain constant in the world, regardless of "regime change", isn't it?

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