المشرف: التوبوليف العراقية
- التوبوليف العراقية
- Lieutenant Colonel - Muqqadam
- مشاركات: 2682
- اشترك في: السبت نوفمبر 27, 2010 6:29 pm
- مكان: Dubai - UAE
2- The first combat was in 1974 when Iraq use them in north Iraq fights with kurds insurgents , unconfirmed one aircraft was shoot down and discovered that all pilots from East Germany .
3- The extensive use was in the first months of IRAQ - IRAN War 1980 - 1988 , at least 3 iraqi blinders shoot down by iranian hawk missles and F 14 .the Iraqi blinders success to hit the Iranian capital Tehran .
4- In 1984 Iraq reveive new version of TU 22 K which equiped with radar to guide the long range missles , a total of 4 aircraft with 100 KH 22 missles received and used during the next years to the large Iranian Cities and strategic targets ..
5- Unconfirmed news that all aircrafts will withdrawl from service setp by setp and replaces with Sukhoi 24 in late eightees ..
6- From the first hours of 1991 second gulf war all TU 22 blinders are destroyed on the ground ..
The main Airbase was ( Al Habbanyah 2 / Al taquadium / Tamuz Air base ) all names for the same airbase and some times in H3 Al waleed Air base .
FROM WIKIPEDIA :
Iraq used its Tu-22s in the Iran–Iraq War from 1980-1988, losing about seven of its twelve aircraft in combat, including one shot down by an Iranian SAM over Tehran, and a second shot down by an Iranian Grumman F-14 Tomcat. Two were destroyed at an Iraqi base due to undeclared reason in the mid '80s, and one was destroyed at H3 base in October 1980 during a faulty landing (all crew and some others were killed). Iraq moved some of its Tu-22s to Yemen for a few days and the aircraft returned to Iraq during October 1980. Iraq evacuated its Tu-22s to western base H3 in the early days of the war.
All of the Iraqi aircraft that survived the Iran–Iraq War were destroyed on the ground in the 1991 Gulf War.
FROM MILAVIA .COM :
Iraq ordered 12 Tu-22 in 1973, one report says 10 of these would have been Tu-22B 'Blinder-A' aircraft. But in 1981 Iraq took delivery of 4 Tu-22KD/KDP and more than 200 Kh-22 and Kh-22M/MA missiles. The pilots were trained in the Soviet Union during 73-74 and the Tu-22K crews are reported to have been Soviet. The Iraqi Tu-22s were based at Al-Walid and saw action during the 1980-1988 war with Iran. The inventory after the war is reported to have been 5 to 8 aircraft, at least 3 Tu-22Ks have been lost. In January 1991, it was reported that 5 aircraft were still operational. In 2003 is was reported that these have all been destroyed by F-117s during Desert Storm, including one Tu-22U trainer.
FROM ACIG ( Tom Cooper ) :
http://s188567700.online.de/CMS/index.p ... &Itemid=47
- التوبوليف العراقية
- Lieutenant Colonel - Muqqadam
- مشاركات: 2682
- اشترك في: السبت نوفمبر 27, 2010 6:29 pm
- مكان: Dubai - UAE
Weapon of Terror
Strenuous efforts on behalf of the IrAF and with plenty of Soviet help, ensured that by early 1984 eight Tu-22Bs – including the example damaged by engine fire before the war – two Tu-22Ks, and both Tu-22Us were operational again. A new group of personnel was trained and there were finally enough spares and Soviet maintainers to keep the fleet at a high readiness rate. As a result, IrAF Blinders could now fly more missions than ever before, even if the number of available airframes never again reached previous levels. In response to a direct order from the Iraqi dictator, the IrAF changed its overall strategy and started targeting Iranian cities along the border, thus initiating what later became known as the “War of the Cities”. Iraqi Blinders were deployed intensively, mainly to strike targets deeper inside Iran – mainly in the Tehran area. Quite a few sorties reached their target areas and the Iraqi bomber fleet soon became a major headache for the Iranian people and the IRIAF.
As the Iraqi bombers increased their attacks on different cities, the Iranian religious and military leadership, as well as the public, began exerting severe pressure on the IRIAF to stop the bombardments. Iraq’s apparent success led the Iranian people to doubt that the IRIAF was capable or willing to intercept enemy bombers. In reality, however, Iranian interceptors were flying at every opportunity and going after every Iraqi aircraft they could detect. Indeed, flying was so intensive that normal maintenance schedules had to be ignored. While most of the Iraqi strikes were spoiled by Iranian interceptors, each raid that managed to get through sapped the people’s view of their air force, its capabilities and determination.
The first Tu-22 strikes of the “War of the Cities” were flown in mid-February 1984. Within a few days a number of cities in northern Iran – including Zanjun, Qazyin, and Rasht – had been hit, and soon enough the Blinders were attacking targets in the Tehran area again. The 4th Composite Bomber Wing – now equipped with Tu-16s and Tu-22s only – was still operating from the H-3 complex, but, most of the missions were staged via al-Huriyah AB, near Kirkuk, where pairs of Blinders would refuel before starting their 550km long high-speed runs against the Iranian capital. They would cruise at a very high speed, which made them extremely difficult to intercept - in order to catch any Iraqi bombers the Iranians had to be in the right place at the right time, and – of course – the Iraqi crews were not there to make their job easier.
For a while, the situation was so precarious that the IRIAF considered deploying two or three F-14As to TFB.2 at Tabriz. However, this idea was dropped because the Tomcat fleet was already overstretched by the need to defend the oilfields in the south, as well as tanker convoys and Khark Island in the Persian Gulf. Instead of Tomcats, the whole 32nd TFW, equipped with F-4Es, was deployed to Tabriz in early March 1984, in a bid to deter Iraqi bombers.
A former F-4 Phantom II pilot with the 12th TFS, Capt. H. Mohammadi, recalled one of the missions he flew during which he experienced the full complexity of intercepting Tu-22s, as well as fighting new Iraqi tactics and capabilities:
On 15 March 1984 (soon after the seizure of Iraqi Majnoon artificial islands during an Iranian offensive), a formation of five fast-moving Iraqi planes were detected by a lone IRIAF F-14A, unarmed but acting as a radar-picket, on station some 44km east of the Qazyin City, just west of Tehran. This F-14 of the 73rd TFS was – together with two other Tomcats – based at Mehrabad for testing equipment and weapons, and also for some crew training. On this day, it happened to be testing new repairs to its radar system, and was thus on the right place at the right time...
The five Iraqi planes were identified by the AWG-9 radar as four Tu-22 bombers, all underway at about 40,000 feet and high speed, and one Tu-16 bomber flying at about 45,000ft, just behind the Blinder formation. The TFB.1 immediately scrambled our pair of F-4Es and began to prepare four more Phantoms for take-off, while our SAM units were alerted that Tehran would soon come under attack. However, as luck would have it, the Iraqi bombers detected the emission of the AWG-9 on the lonesome F-14 and were no longer intent on just flying into the open arms of the IRIAF and Tehran’s air defences: instead, these bombers and their Iraqi crews (that is if they were Iraqis) behaved somehow different than before and we were not to see this right from the start of the following action.
I led my wingman along the intercept vector towards the Iraqi bombers: initially after take-off, I had a very good feeling that these five Iraqi planes had showed us their plan early, and that they would now pay a high price for this. For once in the time as we climbed into our Phantoms we had solid information on our side: how many, what type, and where the Iraqi planes were. Plus the air force had fighters in place to intercept them. However, I was still feeling somewhat apprehensive as we climbed to intercept these Iraqi bandits – for two main reasons.
The first was that this was a large group of bombers and second that we did not know why was there a lone Tu-16 tagging along behind the much faster Blinders. IrAF bombers were very rarely seen in such large numbers: it was more common for them to attack as single bomber or in pairs or trios at most. I was thinking at first that the Iraqi Badger was acting as "pathfinder" for the Tu-22s, but the Blinders were instead clearly leading the Tu-16 into the battle. Then I came to the idea that the Tu-16 might have acted as a tanker, so to extend the endurance of the Blinders: my wingman, 1st Lt. S. Maleki, agreed with me that this must have been the case. It would not take long to learn that we were both wrong.
As we closed, my WSO and me started setting up an AIM-7 Sparrow attack, but, as I – briefly – attempted a lock-on onto the lead Tu-22, any hope for a missile attack immediately vanished. The two leading Blinders both initiated their high-speed dashes, pulling ahead of the others in their flight. I thought at that moment, that perhaps they were going to intercept my flight, but then they both climbed, and then made abrupt U-turns, one bomber going to the left and one to the right. It appeared to me at that moment, that the Iraqi pilots had chosen to run back home, and my wingman confirmed that he was thinking the same over radio.
However, even as we were talking, my WSO reported that the other three Iraqi bombers were holding their direction and speed. Thinking to myself again that this was bad, and that the Iraqis were splitting their formation in order to make it more difficult for us to intercept them, I can assure you that moments later things went from bad to worse, as all the Iraqi planes disappeared like ghosts from the radar display of our Phantoms...
What happened? They jammed our radars using SMALTA-5 ECM systems, and then also jammed my radio communication with the wingman and with our base: instead I could hear the low- and high-pitched sounds of jamming from the Soviet Pelena II electronic radio jammer in my earphones (I knew how the Pelena II sounded as I’ve heard it before). Later, while reconstructing the Iraqi operation on debriefing, we determined that the lead two Tu-22s had pulled ahead and climbed to drop a large package of chaff, forming a huge chaff cloud barrier in front of the remainder of their formation, before turning back towards Iraq. We guessed that their bomb-bays must have been fully-loaded with chaff for them to be able to create a chaff cloud large enough to hide them all from our radars.
But, now we did not only have to contend with this chaff cloud, but we also did not know that at least one of the remaining three Iraqi bombers was also equipped with a powerful electronic warfare suite – manned obviously by a capable operator, who knew how to operate it against us: the Iraqis dropped chaff and jammed us before, but not like this (IrAF Tu-22s were carrying flare and chaff cartridges usually in the rear of both of their main landing-gear pods, along with strike cameras).
Having no other plan in my mind, I used hand signals to tell my wingman to follow me into the chaff-cloud, and switch to Sidewinders. We still had enough fuel and a total of eight AIM-9s between us that could not be jammed by chaff – plus four pairs of good Iranian eyes, which were now our only hope for intercepting Iraqi bombers.
As we flew into this man-made “blind-zone” scanning the sky overhead for our targets, we did not know that the remaining two Tu-22s had dropped to a lower level and speed. Simultaneously, the lone Tu-16 was climbing at its top-speed to a higher altitude: soon it would become all too clear to us that the powerful jammers and the good electronic warfare specialist were located aboard that Badger. The two Blinders, by then at only 600ft, launched a single AS-4 missile each towards Tehran: the missiles ignited properly and started climbing to a higher altitude for a maximum efficiency cruise, and then the bombers turned away back to Iraq.
The lone Tu-16 continued towards Tehran at first, approaching to only some 30km from the city, and supplied the mid-course guidance update to the two missiles that were now at a high altitude, until they approached close enough for their own terminal guidance systems to activate and acquire the target: Mehrabad TFB.1. The air was suddenly free of most of Iraqi jamming, and the Tu-16 then also turned back towards Iraq, allowing the two of our radars near Tehran to detect the AS-4s in their terminal dive at a very high speed from high altitude. The noise, surprise, and confusion caused by this attack did far more damage to the people of Tehran than the two 1,000kg warheads ever could.
Meanwhile, we had regained a clear picture on our radars, but by now it was too late for them to help us catch the Iraqi bombers: we were short on fuel and had to return back to TFB.1 even as the tower informed us that the airfield was hit. There was no joy for the IRIAF and Iran on that day.
Iraqi missile variety
Despite such sound tactics, the massive use of EW and deception, the Iranian interceptors sometimes had better luck. Barely ten days later, on 25 March, a Tu-22B was shot down by an Iranian F-14A – using an AIM-54A Phoenix missile – over the Majnoon islets, while still inside Iraqi airspace, but over positions held by Iranian troops. What an achievement this was for the IRIAF, but how the Iranian Tomcats maintained their success against improved Iraqi Blinders, their jammers, and tactics, was explained by Capt. Y, a former IRIAF intelligence officer:
We knew that the Russians flew “special” Tu-22s for Iraqis on missions over Iran, in 1984, 1985, and again in 1988, and that they tested a large variety of different weapons, tactics, and equipment. Many of these weapons were new, some were just early prototypes, and some were not even in production but only in later stages of the development. The Russians fired from Iraqi Tu-16s and Tu-22s many AS-4, AS-5, and AS-6 missiles against targets in Iran (frankly, the Iraqis even fired a large number of HY-2 Silkworm and CSSC-3 Seersucker anti-ship missiles against different land targets as the war neared its end: the Russian anti-ship missiles had obviously many applications), and also dropped many new free-fall weapons, like FAE bombs, air-dropped mines, and anti-armour cluster bombs. Many of these weapons worked fine against our troops dug-in on the front.
They also tested top-of-the-line special electronic gear – although, the ECM and ECCM systems used on their Tu-22 in general had only mixed results. The old Soviet SMALTA-2 jammer, used initially on Tu-22s, and the TAKAN-1 ECM system, used on Tu-16s, were actually useless against our MIM-23B I-HAWK SAMs. But the SMALTA-3, installed on their Tu-22s and Su-22s from 1983, functioned against the I-HAWKs, even if only from very short ranges – two or three kilometres. Of course, we would be fireing our SAMs from longer ranges and before the Iraqis could get as close.
After 1983, however, the Russians also started using the very powerful SMALTA-4 and -5 systems on some of their MiG-25s and Tu-22s deployed in Iraq, and the ECCM capabilities of their systems were also improved. We did not think that the Russians ever have let any Iraqi pilots to fly the aircraft equipped with these systems, which could blind the MIM-23B from a distance of between 10 and 15 km for short periods of time. The SMALTA-5 was the only system capable of jamming our I-HAWK radars and at the same time also “whiting out” the radar scopes of our F-4s from ranges of around 10 km. Interestingly, neither SMALTA-4 nor -5 could jam the F-14’s AWG-9 radar.
Consequently, the Iraqi and Soviet Tu-22B and Tu-22K/KD crews were still advised to avoid Iranian F-14s and F-4s at all cost, or – if already too close to the target – to execute a supersonic toss attack, thus simultaneously releasing bombs and initiating an evasion manoeuvre that could not be tracked even by the AIM-54. Exact details remain sketchy, but it seems that by using this tactic Tu-22s evaded several Phoenix missiles.
Iron bombs and supersonic lobs
The main weapon of the Iraqi Tu-22Bs remained the FAB-500, a free-fall “iron” bomb, 12 of which were usually carried. The model used on the Blinder had a tail shroud covering the fins and proved very accurate when dropped from higher altitudes and speeds. Besides, the FAB-500 was also very reliable, as it was equipped with a number of different fusing systems, which also ensured great versatility. As already indicated, however, during the war the Iraqi Blinders used other different free-fall weapons, including the giant FAB-5000 and FAB-9000 bombs – especially when they had to hit from stand-off ranges. These huge weapons were usually released with the help of the supersonic toss technique, which saw the bomber approaching the target at a supersonic speed and altitude of 50,000ft (15.240m) before releasing the weapon. Once free of the load – and still kilometres away from the target – the aircraft would then complete an Immelmann and roll-out to return to Iraq at a high speed.
Most of the targets attacked by Iraqi Blinders were large, fixed objects, often heavily defended, such as cities, radar sites, oil refineries, and open bulk-storage areas; hard to miss with “iron” bombs. Some Iranians are sure that in most of the attacks - in which the supersonic toss technique was applied - the Soviet pilots flew Iraqi Blinders: other sources, however, indicate that several Iraqi crews mastered this manoeuvre as well, and applied it successfully. It is certain that no Tu-22 using this technique was ever shot down by Iranian defences.
The FAB-5000 proved an exceptionally destructive weapon: it would kill and destroy anything within 50 meters of the impact point, and cause heavy blast damage out to 100 meters. The FAB-9000 was usually carried only on shorter-ranged missions and would kill and destroy everything within 75 meters of the impact point, while heavy blast damage was caused out to 200 meters and – of course – other kinds of damage caused out to over a kilometre. Along FAB-1000s, FAB-3000s, and FAB-5000s, the FAB-9000 remained also a major weapon against concentrations of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) troops during the war with Iran. One of its primary targets was the Iranian military camp at al-Jufair, near Ahwaz , which was a main disembarkation point for troops committed to Iranian offensives in the region of Howeizeh Marshes; the Majnoon Isle, in the Howeizeh, was hit several times through 1984, after it was occupied by the Iranians.
A particular mission that saw deployment of FAB-9000s with help of supersonic toss technique was one undertaken by three Tu-22s on the evening of 16 February 1986, against Iranian troops that occupied the city of al-Faw. The Iranians used the small docks in the local harbour to ship their men and materiel across the Shatt al-Arab waterway by night. Each of the three Tupolevs dropped one FAB-9000, equipped with South-African Jupiter proximity fuses, set to detonate the weapon eight meters above the ground. In addition to INS and RSBN-navigation aids, our pilots used radar to approach at a level of 7.000m and a speed of Mach 1.2; targeting was conducted with the help of the tank farm in al-Faw, which made a superb radar echo. Once the weapons hit, all hell broke lose on Iranian communication networks: their casualties were very heavy. The deployment of this weapon in combat was complex, but the ballistic computer of the Tu-22 was working quite well, and Iraqi pilots proved capable of dropping the FAB-9000 from subsonic or supersonic speeds (up to Mach 1.2).
Eventually, the FAB-9000 was used so excessively, that IrAF again almost run out of stocks. For this reason, the Iraqi military industry developed a home-made version, which entered production at the Nassir Establishment, some 25km north of Baghdad - the Soviets provided no help even if they were aware of Iraqi efforts. The IrAF Safety Board subjected this version, called Nassir 9, to extensive ground and flight testing. The weapon was test-dropped from both types of aircraft that were to use it, Tu-16 and Tu-22, and static detonation testing was conducted, necessary to measure the overpressure and patterns of shrapnel distribution, as well as to compare them with the Soviet original, which - as concluded by the Iraqis – was developing a higher overpressure and had a wider shrapnel distribution pattern than any comparable Western weapon. Nassir 9 matched the Soviet model to 90% of its capabilities , and entered service in 1988. The last remaining FAB-9000s and Nassir 9s were destroyed by IrAF in 1993, on a weapons range.
The Tu-22Ks continued using Kh-22: most of the missiles were still fired against Iranian radar stations and SAM sites, but a number were also fired against highly reflective radar targets, including oil refineries and industrial sites. Eyewitnesses recalled a Kh-22-strike against Rasht, a city on the coast of the Caspian Sea, in February 1985, which came without any previous warning: suddenly there was a terrible explosion that blew away a large house and severely damaged several others.
Despite using Kh-22s and the supersonic toss attack technique, deception, and heavy electronic countermeasures, the situation remained difficult for Iraqi Blinder crews, and they still had to abort their attacks on numerous occasions. From March 1985, IrAF Tu-22s, were often accompanied by MiG-25RBs and Mirage F.1EQs, and in the middle of that month they spearheaded a kind of aerial offensive against the largest Iranian cities. On 10 March, Tabriz was attacked and hit by three bombs from high altitude, killing 22 and injuring 21 civilians. On the same day, a single Iraqi bomber – either a Tu-22K or one of the updated MiG-25RBs sent to Iraq by the Soviets for testing – fired two missiles at Esfahan, killing one and injuring 19 civilians. On the same evening, a sole Tu-22K fired one Kh-22 towards Esfahan after approaching at a very high altitude, and before IRIAF fighters could intercept it, killing two civilians and injuring four others.
On the next morning, the heaviest series of strikes of the whole war so far were unleashed. Three heavy bombs – each leaving a 4 meter deep crater – hit Tabriz, killing eleven civilians. Shortly after, a single Iraqi bomber approached Qazvin but was surprised by the Iranian air defences, which fired two MiM-23 HAWKs. Both SAMs missed and landed in the fields nearby, causing no damage. The heaviest strike then hit Kermanahsh, where Tu-16 and Tu-22 dropped massive bomb loads killing 110 civilians and security personnel. Shortly after, at around 11:20, the fourth wave, consisting of two Tu-22s, attempted to approach Tehran from the west, but two F-14s were scrambled to intercept and the Iraqi bombers were forced towards the border at high speed. Finally, the port of Bandar Khomeyni was bombed and damaged. By attacking different targets far apart from each other, the Iraqis frequently managed to stretch the IRIAF to the limits, and find “holes” in Iranian air defences.
The Iraqis continued their attacks on the following day as well. On the morning of 12 March 1985, two Tu-22Ks launched Kh-22s against two points in north-eastern Tehran, killing five and injuring eight. Slightly later, Arak was attacked, but the air defences were alert, and the Blinders were caused to jettison their bomb loads. In face of such problems, Saddam Hussein still considered the “War of the Cities” to be a useful method for pushing Iran towards an armistice, and the IrAF was compelled to continue similar operations, even if it had to overcome considerable problems due to lack of suitable targeting information, precision, and properly-functioning weapons.
On 14 March, and then especially on 25 May 1985, seven Tu-22Bs attacked Tehran again, this time penetrating successfully and causing damage to some industrial targets. Additional raids were also flown against Esfahan and Shiraz. All crews of the 7th BS participating in this raid were decorated, and Col. Hamawi advanced to the rank of Lieutenant General (he was later to become the Commander of the IrAF, only to be executed by the regime during the Gulf War II, in 1991).
Twilight of Service in Iraq
In response to these fierce bombing attacks, by early 1986 the Iranian air defences had been revamped following a complete reorganization of all its assets, some indigenous improvements, but also a series of massive – and clandestine – arms shipments from Israel, USA, South Korea, Singapore, and elsewhere. As a result the Iraqis began to consider their Tu-22s as too vulnerable to be used for attacking targets inside such well-defended areas like Tehran. The well-prepared and executed Iranian Valfajr-8 offensive, initiated in February 1986, which resulted in the capture of most of the Iraqi Faw Peninsula, brought Iraq on the verge of military defeat, and the IrAF was compelled to deploy all available assets, regardless of the price.
Together with Tu-16s, Tu-22Bs and Tu-22Ks were initially thrown into the attacks against Iranian troop concentrations - the Iranian air defences along the front were more effective than ever before, however, and the IrAF started suffering excessive losses among its tactical fighters. Unable to recapture Faw, or hit the Iranian units on the front with air power, the regime in Baghdad lost patience. On the early morning of 15 February 1986, Blinders – supported by MiG-25RBs and escorted by MiG-25PDs – bombed Tehran twice before the third formation was intercepted by F-14s. The Tomcats shot down a MiG-25RB, but the Tu-22s escaped undamaged. The next morning, the Tu-22s were sent back to the front at Faw, and deployed against the Iranian “Kowsar-3” MIM-23B SAM site, that was operational near the city.
This SAM site had previously presented an immense problem to the Iraqis, and it was to do so again on 16 February. Early in the morning, Kowsar-3 started work by downing a single MiG-23BN, and causing the rest of the Iraqi formation to abort. Shortly after, the second strike appeared, this time the Iranian SAMs shot down an Iraqi Tu-22K.
With this, the IrAF was down to only one Tu-22 capable of carrying Kh-22s: unsurprisingly, there are no reports of Kh-22 usage in this war after that date. As a matter of fact, the whole Iraqi Blinder fleet did not reappear in the war until July 1986 when – this time escorted by Mirage F.1EQs as well as MiG-25s – several were sent to resume daily strikes against Tehran and Esfahan. Most of the time, they were still capable of finding blind spots in the Iranian radar network, and – when needed – they would be supported by tactical fighters dropping chaff canisters, or employing heavy jamming.
On several occasions, the appearance of the Blinders was not detected by their opponents until their bombs had started to fall. However, the number of missions aborted because of Iranian F-14s was still too high for the ocontribution of the Tu-22 to be characterized as “useful.” Besides, the Soviets had now started supplying more advanced tactical aircraft and weapons to Iraq, among them Su-22M-4Ks and Su-22UM-3Ks, equipped with smaller but more effective anti-radar missiles, like the Kh-28M and Kh-25MP, and the effectiveness of MiG-25RBs in Iraqi service was also constantly increasing. By 1987, therefore, the Iraqi Blinder fleet was again largely grounded.
By late 1987, the strategic circumstances in Iraq had changed dramatically. Temporarily unleashed from the tight control by the regime, the IrAF took the war deep into Iran, flying hundreds of sorties each day mainly to hit targets of economic significance. This – together with the clever tactic of avoiding unnecessary air-to-air battles, the use of stand-off weapons by Iraqi pilots, the massive employment of chemical weapons along the frontlines, and the increasing US support for Baghdad – caused great problems and concerns for Iran, which soon found itself exhausted by the long conflict, even to the point of experiencing manpower shortages.
Despite very intensive Iraqi operations, however, one target survived relentless attacks: the oil storage and export installations on Khark Island. The IrAF had launched several aerial offensives against Khark, a few of them a couple of months long, hitting the installations on the island with dozens of strikes, in 1984, 1985, and 1986. Most of these operations, however, either missed the target or suffered extensive losses for no gain in exchange. Nevertheless, by early 1988, US support for Iraq became widespread, influential, and effective, that by then, US Navy ships were directly supplying targeting information for Iraqi anti-ship strikes in the Khark area, as well as for the oil installations on the island. This support led to the last large operation involving Iraqi Tu-22s.
In late 1987, the IrAF purchased four Xian B-6D (H-6D) bombers and between 30 and 50 2,440kg (5,379 lb) C.601 semi-active radar-guided anti-ship missiles from China, hoping to be able to use them against Iranian shipping – mainly oil tankers – underway in the southern Persian Gulf. For various reasons, however, the B-6Ds and C.601s were no more successful than the Mirage F.1EQ-5 and AM.39 Exocet combinations: the C.601’s 225kg (496 lb) warhead would not cause more damage than an Exocet when hitting super-tankers, which proved highly able to withstand attacks due to their huge size and massive construction. Besides, the Iranian defences were still vigilant and very active, downing more Iraqi aircraft over the Persian Gulf than ever before. In total, oil exports from Khark were still flowing, and were barely disrupted by Iraqi strikes.
On the evening of 16 April 1988, however, US Navy ships underway in the central Persian Gulf reported a convoy of Iranian tankers heading towards Khark, and supplied all the relevant data to the Iraqis. Throughout the next day, additional reports arrived in Baghdad about the minimal activity of Iranian interceptors in the air over the Persian Gulf. To the IrAF, which had suffered extensive losses in the area during February 1988 (no less than eight Mirage F.1EQs and one B-6D were shot down by Iranian F-14As during separate battles), this seemed to be the opportunity it was looking for. It could now conduct a massive strike against the convoy while it was loading crude oil at Khark, delivering a decisive blow to the Iranian oil exports.
By this time, only six Tu-22Bs and two Tu-22Us remained operational, and the IrAF needed most of the following 48 hours to get them ready for the strike – along with six MiG-25RBs, and a total of 18 Mirage F.1EQs, six MiG-23BNs, and two Su-22s (the last were to act as SEAD escorts). Meanwhile, additional reports from the US Navy effectively declared the area around Khark a “shooting gallery,” full of “excellent targets.” Finally, at around 01:00 on 19 March 1988, on the eve of the Persian New Year, the first wave, including four Tu-22Bs and six Mirages, took of from Shoaibah AB, near Basrah. This attack was devastating - first two of the Mirages first launched their Exocets, scoring two hits in the accommodation block of the tanker Kyrnicos - it was so badly damaged that it had to be towed back to Larak Island.
Then, 32 minutes later, and supported by heavy jamming from escorting Mirages carrying Caiman ECM pods, the Blinders arrived, dropping 12 FAB-500 bombs each. Their attack came as a complete surprise: Ava’i, a super-tanker of 316,398dwt, was hit by several bombs, causing a horrible conflagration. Massive explosions ripped the giant ship apart, killing 22 of the crew. Nearby, Sanandaj, weighting 253,837dwt, was also hit with equal precision: 26 of the crew perished, and the ship was gutted by flames. The Blinders disappeared before even a single IRIAF interceptor could scramble from Bushehr.
The US Navy ships nearby monitored the unfolding attack, and reported that it was executed in good order. But then, either the skipper of the carrier USS Ranger (CV-61) or USS Guadalcanal (LPH-7) issued a message that the Iraqi attack was “...deplorable in nature,” followed by a general order to all the other skippers of USN ships in the area to “...stop acting like Iraqi guardians.” The repercussions from this decision were far-reaching, as this happened exactly at the moment the second Iraqi wave – consisting of two Tu-22Bs, four MiG-25RBs, six MiG-23BNs, and two Su-22M4-Ks – was approaching Khark from northwest, while at least two Iranian F-14As were doing the same from southeast, and two F-4Es from the south!
Turning the tables
What happened when these aircraft met over Khark at 0932hrs that morning, can only be described as a complete catastrophe for the IrAF, even if full details are still not available. The IRIAF F-14 crews were working extremely well and lucky that their planes and missiles were in excellent condition. Swiftly establishing proper firing parameters, they launched at least five Phoenix missiles within a very short period.
While it is possible that more Iraqi aircraft were shot down, the radars onboard USN ships confirmed the downing of one Tu-22Bs, and a single MiG-25RB. Not one of the seven crewmembers from these aircraft was rescued. While the high-speed pursuits were going on at high levels, MiG-23s and Su-22s made low approaches, but by this time the IRIAF MIM-23B system on Khark was operational and fired several HAWKs in quick succession, It was confirmed that the site shot down one MiG and a Sukhoi within 30 seconds. The strike upon Ava’i and Sanandaj was certainly the heaviest and – for both sides – the costliest of the whole “Tanker War.” The Iraqis destroyed two of the largest Iranian “shuttle tankers,” used for transporting crude oil to the lower Persian Gulf, where it was loaded into ships sent by customers. Iran was forced to postpone further oil exports for quite some time. However, they not only did they once again fail to destroy the oil installations at Khark, but Iraq also certainly lost at least two precious Tu-22Bs, together with a single example each of a MiG-25RB, MiG-23BN, and Su-22M-4Ks, as well as their irreplaceable crews.
It should be explained that the number of Iraqi planes lost during this battle was based on radar monitoring by USN ships: as they were not stationed very close to Khark these results may not have been very accurate. It is, therefore, very likely that the Iraqis suffered even more losses – because it is known that their third wave arrived in the Khark area at around 15:00hrs, and that by that time the IRIAF MIM-23B site on the island had apparently fired all of its rounds, as numerous urgent Iranian radio messages were intercepted, requesting replacement rounds to be sent from the mainland.
Certainly the IrAF never tried anything similar again against Khark, and the Iranian tanker shuttle did not suffer any further losses of this nature. There were far fewer Iraqi anti-shipping strikes after this, and even though the “War of the Cities” continued afterwards it was mainly with surface-to-surface missiles. For IrAF Blinders, the strike against Khark flown on 19 March 1988, was their “swan song,” because they did not fly any more combat missions again.
In total, during the First Persian Gulf War, the 7th BS IrAF lost four Blinders in combat: two Tu-22Bs to Iranian F14As and AIM-54A Phoenix missiles, one Tu-22B and one Tu-22K to MIM-23B Improved-HAWK SAMs. Not a single crewmember known to have ejected from these aircraft, was recovered - although six were captured by the Iranians, the rest died. Another two were claimed by the Iranians, one to F-14As and one to AIM-7E-2 Sparrows fired by F-4E Phantoms, but these claims remain unconfirmed. Additionally, at least three Blinders are known to have been so severely damaged by Iranian defences that they had to be written off even if returning safely to Iraq, and – as already described – two other Iraqi Blinder pilots were captured after being shot down while flying other aircraft.
حسب معلوماتي فان التوبوليف-22 وصلت للعراق في نهاية عام 1973 وسمي السرب الخاص بها بالعاشر وكان عددها 12 فقط وغير مجهزة بالصواريخ وانما بالقنابل فقط
وكان عددها بعد نهاية الحرب عام 88 هو 6 فقط
وان احدى الطائرات انفجرت وهي على الارض اثناء عملية توكلنا على الله الرابعة في تموز عام 88
وذلك بعد الغاء الواجب الكلفة به واثناء تفريغ القنابل انفجرت الطائرة كما ان احدى الطائرات اصيبت اثناء عودتها من الواجب وفقدت الزعنفة الخلفية ولكنها استطاعت الهبوط في الحبانية واخرجت من الخدمة على اثرها
do you happen to know at least the approximate date at which the Tu-22 landed without the fin?
(That was quite a piece of achievement for the pilot in question, by any means: landing a Tu-22 was a tricky business even when everything was OK, but doing so in an aircraft that was damaged and missing a fin...wow!).
اشرت في مشاركتي السابقة ان رقم سرب التبوليف22 هو العاشر والصحيح هو 36 بعد استفساري لااحد الاصدقاء عن رقم السرب اما الطائرة التي عادت لقاعدة الحبانية من غير الزعنفة الخلفية فقد شاهدتها
في قاعدة الحبانية عام 1989 وبعد سؤالي لااحد الاخوة هناك اخبرني انها فقدت الزعنفة الخلفية اثناء عملية قصف اثناء الحرب وقد كرم الطيارين على شجاعتهم في اعادة الطائرة بهذا الوضع