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   Iranian Imperial/Republic Air Force /  Nirou Havai Shahanshaiye Iran




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            Last update 01-09-2019

It is very difficult, as in many countries, to obtain reliable information about military aviation in Iran. During the Imperial era most information has come from outside sources, particularly the USA. There are slight differences, according to source, regarding the exact number of Freedom Fighters supplied. All datas given in this section are unofficialOnly confirmation is to where aircrafts are based as F-5s have the number of the Air Base where they are statione paintedd on the tail.
The Islamic Republic has been lately more open in showing aircrafts, but sometimes mixing reality with confusing information. Good photos of F-5s have surfaced thanks to local information agencies and aviation enthusiasts.

To calculate the local (Iranian) calender deduct 621 from the Gregorian (Western) calender. The name "Shahid" means martyrer.

    Tactical Air Bases

    - Teheran/Mehrabad   =  1st Tactical Air Base "Shahid Lashkari"
    - Tabriz                     =  5th Tactical Ar Base, name modified to   =  2nd Tactical Air Base "Shahid Fakoori"
    - Hamedan/Shahrokhi  =  3rd  Tactical Air Base
    - Dezful/Vahdati         =  2nd Tactical Ar Base, name modified to  =  4th Tactical Air Base "Shahid Nojeh"  
    - Akha Jari/Omidieh     =  5th  Tactical Air Base
    - Bushehir                 =  6th  Tactical Air Base
    - Shiraz/Dowran         =  7th  Tactical Air Base
    - Isfahan                   =  8th  Tactical Air Base "Shahid Babiee"
    - Chah Bahar/Konak    = 10th  Tactical Air Base" Shahid Dol Hamed"
    - Mashad                  = 14th  Forward Air Station "Shahid Babael",

     "Shahid" was applied after the war with Iraq and means "martyr"




NORTHROP F-5 Fighter Units

No (almost) unit aircrafts establihment/disponibilty is mentioned as the number available varied very much.

IMPERIAL IRANIAN AF (IIAF) - PRE FEBRUARY 1979 REVOLUTION - First Period, Freedom Fighters - Order of Battle by 1971

Tactical Air Bases were designed by one digit - Squadrons by three digits starting with the TAB number.
Hereunder are listed all those those thought to have been equipped with Northrop F-5A, Northrop F-5B, Northrop F-5E, Northrop F-5F
with details of former/later equipment aircrafts (where known).
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1st Fighter Wing - to 1s TAB 1965,  Teheran/Mehrabad
- 101st Tactical Fighter Squadron,  Northrop F-5A, F-5B - RF-5A
Supplanted North American F-86F and Lockheed RT-33A
Second unit to receive Freedom Fighters, still flying Northrop F-5A in November 1965, March 1969,
Received 13 Northrop RF-5A; McDonnell F-4D, later McDonnell RF-4E (16 total Iran AF), delivery to Iran between 1971 and 1978.
- 102nd Tactical Fighter Squadron,  Northrop F-5A, F-5B
By 1970 formerly equipped with North American F-86F, transitioned to McDonnell F-4D
- 103rd Tactical Fighter Squadron
First unit to receive Freedom Fighters: 11 Northrop F-5, 2 Northrop F-5B 12-01-69,  newly established.
Formerly equipped with 4 North Amerinca F-86F, operated in Congo from 16 January to 05 May 1963; is mentioned as having F-5A, F-5B  
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2nd Fighter Wing - to 2nd TAB  Dezful/Vahdati 1965 , name changed tor 4th TAB, started operation in 1968
- 201st Tactical Fighter Squadron Northrop F-5A in use by 1970. formerly equipped with North Amerinca F-86F ex 1st Fighter Wing.
- 202nd Tactical Fighter Squadron Northrop F-5A in use by August 1968, 1970. Formerly equipped with North Amerinca F-86F ex 1st Fighter Wing.
- 203rd Combat Crew Training Squadron

Was the main operational training unit
; 15 Northrop F-5B were used by the end of 1974; formerly equipped with North American F-86F.
Third unit to receive Freedom Fighters, in use 1969, but merged with 203rd Squadron by 1971
- 204st Tactical Fighter Squadron Northrop F-5A in use by 1970
 All Freedom Fighters tranferred to Vietnam were from Vahdati, 2nd TAB; by 1975-76 six Iranian aircrafts were sold to Jordan
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3rd TAB Hamadan/Shahrokhi - starts operation 1963
- 301st Tactical Fighter Squadron  Northrop F-5A, F-5B
Formed in March 1966, aircrafts delivered 1966-1967
Transitioned to McDonnell F-4E, delivery to Iran starting 1971
- 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron,  Northrop F-5A, F-5B
Formed in March 1966, new unit, aircrafts delivered 1966-1967
Sharjah AB was visited on 31-03-67 by 14 F-5As (6 silver, 8 camouflaged) and 1 camouflaged F-5B of the 302nd Fighter Squadron,
supported by 3 Lockheed C-130H of the 50th Transport Squadron.

- 303rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, new unit, probably not established
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5th TAB Tabriz/Omidieh, star
- 501st Tactical Fighter Squadron, new unit, Northrop F-5A aircrafts deliverd by 1971
- 502nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, new unit, Northrop F-5A aircrafts deliverd by 1971
One Squadron was based here in 1971, having the last 17 Northrop F-5A, 9 F-5B having been supplied.
These units were the last ones  equipped with the last 28 Freedom Fighters
delivered. 
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6th TAB Bushehir
- 601st Tactical Fighter Squadron, new unit, Northrop F-5A aircrafts
Base was under construction in 1970; unit received McDonnwll F-4E later.
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IMPERIAL IRANIAN AF (IIAF) - PRE FEBRUARY 1979 REVOLUTION - Second Period, Freedom Fighters/Tigers - Order of Battle

Three digits designation Squadrons
was modified to first Air Base and last Squadron digit late 1971, but keeping the subsequent numbers.
1s TAB  Teheran/Mehrabad 
- 11th Tactical Fighter Squadron - F-5A, F-5B
Freedom Fighters replaced by McDonnell F-4D
11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron 4 Northrop RF-5A
McDonnell RF-4E received  between 1973 and 1975, but kept some Northrop RF-5A
- 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron - F-5A, F-5B
Replaced Freedom Fighters by McDonnell F-4E between 1973 and 1975. 
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2nd TAB /Dezful/Vahdati (name modified to 4th TAB)
- Combat Crew Training Center
  - 21st Tactical Fighter Squadron - F-5A, F-5B, F-5E, F-5F
Trained all pilots apart from first 55 trained in USA. The unit strength was 1in 1970 8 Northrop F-5A, 18 F-5B and 10 Lockhhed T-33A.
These last were used for familiarisation to the US environement after having received their training in Iran.

  - 22nd Tactical Fighter Squadron - F-5A, F-5B, F-5E, F-5F
An four-ship RF-5A detachment was stationed at the base by beginning of the war with Iraq,
21st, 22nd TFS, together with 41st TFS, 42 TFS, were the last operational units operating Freedom Fghters
All re-equipped with Northrop F-5E by the end of 1974.
The acrobatic Squadron "Taj Talle/Golden Crown"  with 8
F-5E was stationed here, later dissolved by order of Ayatollah Khomeni.
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3rd TAB Hamadan/Shahroki
- 31st Tactical Fighter Squadron - F-5A, F-5B
Operated Northrop F-5 in October 1980
Re-equipped wiht McDonnell F-4E and or RF-4E by 10-82
- 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron - F-5A, F-5B
Operated Northrop F-5 in October 1980
Unit disbanded
- 33rd  Tactical Fighter Squadron - F-5A, F-5B
Operated Northrop F-5 in October 1980
Re-equipped wiht McDonnell F-4E by 1980 by 10-82
Both re-designated (possibly in December 1971) upon re-equipment to McDonnell F-4E, delivery starting in March 1971, completed in 1972
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4th TAB Dezful/Vahdati former 5th TAB
- 41st Tactical Training Squadron . Northrop F-5A, F-5E
Formerly equipped with Republic F-84G. All Republic F-84G operated till 1965
Freedom Fighters flown October 1972, replaced by 1975 by Northrop F-5E
Operated Northrop F-5 in October 1980
- 42nd Tactical Fighter Squadron - Northrop F-5A, F-5B, replaced by 1975 by Northrop F-5E
Formerly equipped with Republic F-84G. All Republic F-84G operated till 1965.
Operated Northrop F-5 in October 1980
An four-ship Northrop RF-5A detachment was stationed at the base by beginning of the war with Iraq.
41st TFS, 42 TFS, together with 21st and 22nd TFS, were the last operational units operating Freedom Fghters

- 43rd Tactical Training Squadron - F-5B, replaced by 1975 by Northrop F-5E/F-5F
Operated Northrop F-5 in October 1980, ca 12 F-5/F-5F -10-82
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7th TAB Shiraz/Ahvaz
71st Tactical Fighter Squadron  - Northrop RF-5A, F-5A
Some former Ethiopian Northrop F-5A; replaced by McDonnell F-4E. It seems no F-5s were ever based in Shiraz
An four-ship Northrop RF-5A detachment was stationed at this Base by beginning of the war with Iraq.

72nd Tactical Fighter Squadron An badge of this unit is known; did it exist?

                               
                               7th TAB Sidewinder armed Northrop F-5A 2-7255 and an Northrop RF-5A, serial unreadable
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10th TAB Chabahar/Konak  (was under construction by 1978) 
43rd Combat Commander Training School
By 1978 based where detachments of Northrop F-5B, Northrop F-5E, F-5F Tiger from TFB 1, TFB 4; TFB 2 (
last with McDonnell F-4D, F-4E)
Aircrafts returned to their original Base as base not completed.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN AF - (IRIAF) - AFTER FEBRUARY 1979 REVOLUTION

Tactical Fighter Bases (TAB) Air Base numbers were painted mid-tails, after the war. (when?)

One source states that by December 1979 following Tactical Air Bases/Squadrons were thought to exist. Twelve single- Northrop F-5E as well as two double-seaters were the normal equipment, exception are shown below:
1st TAB  Teheran/Mehrabad
11th Tactical Fighter Squadron - 2 Northrop F-5E, 2 Northrop F-5A; 23 Northrop F-5A and F-5B stocked
- 1st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron with 2 Northrop RF-5A, 4 Northrop RF-5A modified to fighter F-5A, 14 Northrop RF-5A stocked;
 
a four-ship Northrop RF-5A was detached in this Base at the beginning of the war with Iraq
 
Also available were Lockheed RT-33A. The (possibly) two last remaining Northrop RF-5A were transferred by ca 1995 to Dezful/Vahdati AFB
13th Test and Evaluation Sqn with 2 Northrop F-5E


                Photo taken from a video, unfortunately serial not readable.
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2nd TAB  Tabriz  after the war named  "Shahid Fakoori"
21st Tactical Fighter Squadron
 
Equipped armed with Northrop F-5s by the end of the conflict (1988).
22nd Tactical Fighter Squadron

                                Baghdad museum/Zawra Park circa October 1987
                        Northrop F-5E 3-7056 00976 2 TAB crash landed, but captured by Iraq almost intact.
Had been disbanded by the end of the conflict (1988).
23rd Tactical Fighter Squadron
  This unit is reported to be also equipped with HESA Saeqeh I in September 2010, both for air defence and ground attack;
  4 participated to the parade on 17-04-11.

  Formation of an official aerobatic demonstration team
with Saeqeh I was annouced the Kish Island air equipped end of November 2018
  2nd TAB Northrop F-5E, F-5F  were photographed on: 28-11-18 Mehrabad, 10-02-19 Mehrabad
  2nd TAB HESA Saeqeh I, camouflaged, were photographed on: 2016 Kish/28-11-18
Mehrabad, 10-02-19 Mehrabad.
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4th TAB   Dezful/Vahdati

41st Tactical Fighter Squadron
  Possibly still equipped with the Northrop Fighter
42nd Tactical Fighter Squadron
 Unit dissolved, all aircrafts first returned to their original units; later (ca 1980) transferred to 7th Tactical Air Base - Shiraz
AB
43rd Tactical Fighter Training Squadron "Tiger" with  8 Northrop F-5E, 2 Northrop F-5F, 6 Northrop F-5B
  A four-ship Northrop RF-5A detachment was stationed at this Base by beginn of the war with Iraq on 22-09-80.
 The (possibly) last two remaining Northrop RF-5A were received ca 1995 from the 
11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron

In the before 2009 xxxxx the commander of the Tactical Air Base 4 learned that the McDonnell F-4 operating from Bushehir had a Sharkmouth
painted on decided to paint an Eagle (4x
Sqn) and a Tiger heads (4x Sqn) on the tails of some of its Northrop F-5E/F-5F.

                               Photo: Aerospacetalk.ir
          Herewith a shoto showing several Northrop F-5s tails with the Eagle and the serials painted in several ways.
          Note also the different camouflage of each aircraft. Other aircrafts had a Tiger head on the tail (see Iran upgrades)
.
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5th TAB  Tabriz/Omidien
- 51st Tactical Fighter Squadron
- 52nd Tactical Fighter Squadron
  Possibly operated at least 7 Northrop and 9 Northrop F-5E in September 1980
and some in October 1982
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7th TAB Shiraz/Ahvaz  Khatami AB (later as 8th TAB), established circa 1980
71st Combat Crew Training Squadron
  With Northrop F-5A, RF-5A by the end of the conflict (1988)
  It received six former 21st TFS Northrop F-5E approximately 1992;
  Planned to be re-equipped with MiG-29, but delivery cancelled in 1992 due to embargo.

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8th TAB (
former 7th TAB)  Izfahan
81st Tactical Fighter Training Squadron

          Photo: unknown
Unknown Northrop F-5Es and HESA Simorgh shown in a parade, airbase number on tail not readable

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14th TAB  Izfahan/Mashad now TAB 8 Izfahan
- 141st Tactical Fighter Squadron with F-5E/F-5F
  H
ad a few Northrop F-5E, F-5F ex 7th TAB in Tabriz AB attached on rotational basis.

IRIAF
  units equipped/ re-equipped / disbanded during/after the Iraq-Iran war 1980-1988)Number of aircrafts based on Tactical Air Bases varied very much, particularly during the war as they were shifted to different bases. Recent photos show F-5s tails adorned with the numbers 2, 4 or 8, relating to the Tactical AB where they are based. Only four Tiger Squadrons have been reported to exist after the war, plus one advanced training
Squadron with F-5B/Simorgh; no pictures show aircrafts with TAB tail number 14

Though mainly a ground/attrition war with Iraq (1980-1988) Northrop RF-5A, Northrop F-5E, McDonnell F-4D/E RF-4E were extensively used.
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A new organisation was to be rebuilt due to the devastating war with Iraq and spare parts shortage from the USA. Additionally, new fighters were bought from non-USA fonts:
24 Chengdu F-7/FT-7 from the People's Republic of China, 36 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29A, 6 MiG-29 UB form Russia and 6 MiG-29 flown from Iraq during the war with the USA.
This is reflected on the equipment of the various Air Bases/Squadrons. Almost all bases were renamed after the war with the name or a martyrer
(Shahid) as written below.
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1st TAB  Teheran/Mehrabad - 11th Tactical Fighter Squadron - Had been re-equipped with McDonnell F-4D by September 1980
                                                  -   1st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron - Received McDonnell RF-4E between 1971 and 1979.
                                        - 13th Test and Evaluation Sqn - no information. most probably disbanded
2nd TAB  Tabriz "Shahid Fakouri"  - 21st Tactical Fighter Squadron - Northrop F-5E, F-5F, 1 F-5F Kowsar 1 By end of 2020
                                            - 22nd Tactical Fighter Squadron - Disbanded by the end of the conflict (1988)
                                        - 23rd Tactical Fighter Squadron - Re-equipped with Mikoyan-Gurevitch MiG-29A/MiG-29 UB
                                          delivered between 1996 and 1999, and later by IAMI Saegeh, Iranian F-5E derivative.
                                          Operated by end 2020 6 F-5E Saegeh and 1 F-5F Saegeh II
4th TAB Dezful/Vahdati "Shahid Vahdati"  42nd Tactical Fighter Squadron - Disbanded, all F-5 aircrafts returned to their original units
                                                            -
43nd Advanced and Weapons Training Squadron renamed
                                                            - 43rd Combat Commander Training School with 9 Northrop F-5B (starting -11-09), later Northrop F-5E, F-5F
5th TAB  Tabriz "Shahid Ardestan" - 51st Tactical Fighter Squadron - 53nd Tactical Fighter Squadron
                                                    most probably disbanded
, no F-5E photo ever noticed
7th TAB Shiraz Ahvaz 
"Shahid Dowran" (later as 8th TAB, see below), established circa 1980
                                       - 
71st Combat Crew Training Squadron
                                          With Northrop F-5A, RF-5A by the end of the conflict (1988)
                                          It received six former 21st TFS Northrop F-5E approximately 1992;
                                          Planned to be re-equipped with MiG-29, but delivery cancelled in 1992 due to embargo.

8th TAB Shiraz renamed "Shahid Dowran"  - 85th Advanced and Weapons Training Squadron-
                      Using till mid 1990s 7th TAB Northrop F-5Aa, nine Northrop F-5B, mainly tasked with advanced weapons and flight training, till March 2010
                      Freedom Fighters trainers transferred to:
                     - 86th Advanced and Weapons Training Squadron
                      Using all Iranian Northrop F-5Bs plus several former Ethiopian
Northrop F-5A/F-5B and Vietnamese Northrop F-5A/F-5B,
                      many
locally modified to Simorgh standards. Some Chengdu FT-7 are also used, delivered end 1987 to Iran
The 
Flight Acadeny Center includes the Training Squadron with Beech Bonanza (locally named Paratsoo) based at Kooshk-e-Nosrat, the
84th Squadron with Pilatus PC-7, the 86th Squadron (F-5/Simorgh) both based at Izfahan.

                     - 81st Tactical Fighter Squadron was re-equipped with Grumman F-14A

14th TAB  Mashad after the war named "Shahid Babael" - Base no-more in use
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Air Bases were transferred to the Air Defense Force/Gharargabe Padafand (formed in 2008) Command by September 2014, which also
controls all land based air defence (surface-to-air missiles, radars, anti-aircraft guns)

The Air Force uses large numbers of Northrthop F-5E for day-time Quick Rereaction Alert, while McDonnel F-4s operate for all-weather QRA duties.


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Available Squadron badges:

                                                     
11th Combat Crew Taining   11th  Tactical Reconnaissance      43rd Tactical Fighter Taining  Flight School Center  Aggressor pilot badge

                                                  
            71st
Combat Crew Taining as seen on TAB 7         71Tactical Fighter as seen on TAB 7          72Tactical Fighter