|Operation Attack on H3|
|Part of Iran–Iraq war|
Map of the attack
|Location|| Al-Waleed Airfield, Iraq|
|Planned by|| Major General Javad Fakoori (the commander of the IRIAF)|
|Objective||Destruction of the Iraqi military aircraft|
|Date||4 April 1981|
|Executed by||Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force|
|Outcome||Decisive blow to the Iraqi airforce|
|Casualties|| 3 Antonov An-12|
1 Tupolev Tu-16
9 Sukhoi Su-17
4 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
18 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23
5 Dassault Mirage F1
In Saddam's attempts for a successful offensive against Iran on the northern front between 12 and 22 March 1981, Iraq fired two 9K52 Luna-M surface-to-surface Rockets against cities of Dezful and Ahwaz. Within days after this attack, commanders of the 31st and 32nd Tactical Fighter Wing in Shahrokhi Tactical Air Base (TAB 3, near Hamadan) planned a counterattack. According to Iranian intelligence, the Iraqi Air Force removed most of her valuable assets to its Al-Wallid air base on the Baghdad-Amman highway close to Jordanian border, part of H-3 complex. There at least two squadrons equipped with ten Tu-22B and at least six Tu-16 heavy bombers as well as two other units with MiG-23BNs and Su-20s were hidden, presumably out of reach of the Iranian Air Force. For the operation against Al-Wallid, the 31st and 32nd Tactical Fighter Wings (TFW) employed F-4E Phantom crews, four F-14A Tomcats, one Boeing 747 airborne command post and three Boeing 707 tankers. Iran had noted that the interceptors of the Iraqi air defenses were usually not very active, especially not in Northern Iraq, so a plan was made to approach the Iraqi sites from that direction. Aside from Iraqi interceptors, Iranian pilots had to be careful to avoid SAMs in order to reach their target. Al-Wallid was almost 1500 kilometres from Hamadan, and Phantoms had to fly over Baghdad.
To increase their chances, Iranian commanders decided to fly their aircraft to Urmia Lake first, and then from there they would have a "clean" route passing over the mountains of Northern Iraqi-Turkish border. Since Phantoms could not reach their target without a number of aerial refueling, two Boeing 747 had to be sent to Syria in order to help the operation by meeting the strike group somewhere over western Iraqi border.
The operation began at 10:30am of the April 4, 1981. A formation of eight F-4E, accompanied by two airborne reserves started from Hamedan AFB (TAB 3) towards Urmia Lake and then after refueling over the friendly airspace they crossed into Iraq. a pair of F-14 Tomcats patrolled the area hours before the strike began and stayed there a few hours later to counter any probable retaliation from Iraqis. Two Boeing 747 tankers were deployed to Damascus airport in Syria a day before the mission begins. When the 8 phantoms were busy doing their first aerial refueling over Iranian air space, they receive the Go Ahead signal from Colonel Izadseta aboard one of the 747's in Syria, then they proceed to the target. The Phantoms split their formation into two sections coming from several different directions and attacked different parts of the complex. First they bombed both runways at Al-Wallid in order to block any Iraqi fighters from taking off. Additionally, bombs were used to destroy several hardened aircraft shelters. In the meantime cluster bombs of the second group of Phantoms wrecked three large hangars, two radar stations and five Iraqi bombers. Subsequently, other parked aircraft were strafed. The Iraqi's still had not reacted in force, their anti-aircraft fire was weak, and the Phantoms had enough time to make multiple attacks and hit multiple Iraqi aircraft with gunfire. Iran claimed that 48 Iraqi planes were destroyed or badly damaged by the end of the attack.
After the attack the Iranian formation turned back towards their own bases. No Iranian F-4E aircraft were damaged during the attack on Al-Wallid and although many Iraqi interceptors were scrambled toward them, none could catch up with Phantoms.
The Iranian attack against Al-Wallid is the most successful Iranian operation against any air base since 1967. Eight aircraft were responsible for destroying a large number of enemy aircraft on the ground in one mission.
Iraqi air defense command later claimed that Syrian interceptors were helping Iranians during the attack, and their radar followed Phantoms for some 67 minutes.
During the war, Iran was suffering from several problems.
This mission was accomplished despite the support of Iraq by surrounding countries (including Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Persian Gulf Sheikdoms) along with support of the Saddam Hussein regime by the US, UK, France, Soviet Union and China.
Right after the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, groups from extremist secular to Marxists, sectarians, religious, and royalists emerged. Some of them were active politically and others were committing crimes against civilians to put pressure on revolution leaders to receive more power and share in new established republic system.
These groups like Forghan, People's Mujahedin of Iran also known as MEK, PMOI and MKO, Organization of Iranian People's Fedai Guerrillas, corrupt military commanders affiliated with the former Shah regime and Komala and more.
These terrorist groups were active in attempting to assassinate pro-revolution politicians and innocent people who were going to mosques to pray, along with and political leaders, bombing political party offices, bombing and killing ministers, prime minister and president Mohammad-Ali Rajai, assassinate present supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
Total numbers of documented victims of these terrorist attacks reached about 17,000.
Location of H3 airbase was in the west of Iraq in heart of desert near Jordan-Arabia-Syria-Iraq borders and very far from Iran's borders.
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