Starving Iran's Tomcats

The U.S. government has stepped in to halt the auctioning of spare parts for the Northrop Grumman F-14 Tomcat fighter jet, Defense News reports:

F14iran

The sales of all F-14 parts were suspended on January 26 pending a review, the Defense Logistics Agency said in a statement. Dawn Dearden, a spokewoman for the agency, told AFP the sales were frozen given the current situation in Iran. Iran bought 79 F-14s from the United States before the fall of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in 1979. The move comes amid growing U.S.-Iranian tensions over Tehrans disputed nuclear program and what Washington sees as Iranian subversion of U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq.

Not to mention Iranian agents have been fingered in the recent Iraq commando raid that killed five U.S. troops, according to The New York Times:

Investigators say they believe that attackers who used American-style uniforms and weapons to infiltrate a secure compound and kill five American soldiers in Karbala on Jan. 20 may have been trained and financed by Iranian agents, according to American and Iraqi officials knowledgeable about the inquiry.

With a confrontation looming, the U.S. is trying to strangle the Iranian air force in advance of a bombing campaign. As I reported last year at Defense Tech, the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force has managed to maintain or even increase its combat power despite embargoes:

All told, the IRIAF flies as many as 300 fighters. All are older designs, but have been maintained and, in many cases, upgraded by the indigenous aerospace industry, which has become proficient in reverse-engineering weapons and spare parts -- and perhaps even engines. And the IRIAF has aerial tankers too -- a force multiplier only the most advanced air forces maintain.

Iran's air defense network would be a tough nut to crack, even with our F-22 fighters and aircraft carriers. We could do it, of course, but probably not without loss. But then what?

And don't forget: there is still no direct evidence of state-sanctioned Iranian meddling in Iraq. If there is, our government hasn't entrusted us with it.

-- David Axe, cross-posted at War Is Boring

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