That Time When A Single F-14 Missile Killed Three MiG Fighters
There are a lot of interesting stories about the Iraq-Iran war. At that time the F-14 Tomcat was the backbone of the Iran Air Force, which is a fighter that they still fly. Iran bought the Tomcats during the era of Shah before the rise of the Islamic republic. These dozen of 2-seated fighter aircraft played a huge role in the war against their neighbor, Iraq.
Tech can make things easier for you, but it was the skills of the Iranian Air Force pilot that allowed the Tomcat to score three kills with one missile. Iranian pilots are so good with the F-14. In fact, it is an Iranian pilot named Jalil Zandi who holds the record for the highest scoring ace in a Tomcat. According to the reports by the US Air Force, Zandi scored 11 kills in an F-14 which is a marvelous achievement for any fighter pilot. He was supported at that time by his fellow pilots as well.
By the year 1981 Iran-Iraq war was in full brutal mode. Iraq invaded Iran in 1980 primarily to take the advantage of the political instability that occurred after the fall of the Shah. Even before the Iraqi ground troops crossed the border, Saddam’s air force gave a try to destroy the Iranian Air Force while it was on the ground. After they missed, Iraqi MiG and Sukhoi fighters played a dangerous game since the Iranian Tomcats were on Petrol.
During the first days of the war, Tomcats were easily downing Iraqi fighters and bombers. Their deadly Phoenix missiles carried an explosive payload that was way bigger than other anti-aircraft missiles. They were designed to take down even Soviet-built Tupolev bomber aircraft which Iraqi forces were trying to fly over Iran.
By 1981, the war in the air was just as brutal as the one on the ground. In the air, F-14 Tomcats gave Iran a great advantage. Just a single Tomcat could take down multiple Iraqi jets and chase them back home. What happened on January 7th of 1981 was a prime example of the power of the F-14 to take down multiple jets.
Iranian pilot Asadullah Adeli and his Radar Intercept Officer Mohammed Masbough got on a mighty F-14 aircraft to respond to an event of unidentified aircraft headed toward Kharg Island in the Persian Gulf. Although the ground radars of the Iran forces couldn’t, the Tomcat identified the intruder was actually not one but three Iraqi MiG-23s. The target of the MiGs was probably to destroy an oil rig near the island.
After Adeli and Masbough were authorized to engage the MiGs, Masbough told him to target the MiG in the middle.
“They were flying really low,” Adeli recalled. “Even though it was night, they were flying at around 2,000 feet.”
Masbough was hoping by attacking the aircraft in the middle, it could damage the other two too. That’s exactly what happened. The powerful American-built Phoenix missile’s damage was enough to take down all three MiG-23 aircraft. The wreckage of all three aircraft was found on Kharg island the next day.