On September 21, 1980, the day before the Iraqi invasion
, the Iranian Air force
was reported to have 447 functional combat aircraft
stationed at 10 air bases
throughout the country. There were modern Chengdu J-7s
, 18 J-6s
, 79 F-14s
, 209 F-4 Phantom IIs
, and 167 F-5s
. In theory, Iran’s Air force was more than a match for the Iraqi one.
On paper, Iraq
only possessed 332 combat aircraft
, consisting mainly of J-7s
, and MiG-23s
. In addition to a superior air fleet, Iranian pilots were better trained. The Iranian air force adhered to NATO
flight training time requirements for combat pilots, whereas at the outbreak of war Iraqi pilots
had “limited hours of flying time”.
In spite of these strengths, Iran was unable to translate them into a consequential advantage in the war. Two primary factors have been blamed for this, Iranian political purges of trained Air Force personnel and inability to procure equipment to maintain their aircraft because of sanctions.
Mirroring the Japanese attack
on Pearl Harbor
, Saddam Hussein
preceded his ground invasion of Iran with a surprise air attack, intending to cripple the Iranian Air Force. On September 22, Iraq launched the surprise air assault; hitting six Iranian Air bases, and 4 Army bases. The Iranian military appears to have been wholly unprepared for the attack, as they were unable to marshal an effective air defense. However, having learned from the Six Day War
, Iran had built concrete......