As the last operator of Grumman’s fearsome F-14 Tomcat, Iran has faced near-constant challenges in keeping the backbone of its air defence capability operational. Babak Tagvhee investigates
Over the past five years the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF), alongside many air arms worldwide, has had to negotiate a decline in its annual budget. A major impact of these cuts has been its ability to maintain the number of Grumman’s still-legendary F-14A Tomcats it has operationally available, not least because of the expense involved in doing so. It seems that Iran, which is now the sole operator of the fearsome fighter-interceptor, remains undeterred by these obstacles and the ‘Big Cats’ continue to lie at the heart of Iran’s air defence capability – but how does it manage to keep its Tomcats in service?