Operation Sultan 10

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Operation Sultan 10
Part of Iran–Iraq War
Iraq-CIA WFB Map.png
Northern Iraq
Planned byIran Col. Afshar
Iran Maj. Showqi
Commanded byIran Col. Afshar
TargetAl-Hurriah Airbase, Iraq
Date29 October 1980 (1980-10-29)
Executed by Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force
  • 32nd Squadron
  • 33rd Squadron
OutcomeIranian victory
Operation Sultan 10
Part of Iran–Iraq War
Date29 October 1980
Northern Iraq
Result Iranian victory
Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force
Roundel of Iraq.svg Iraqi Air Force
Iraqi Air Defence Corps
Commanders and leaders
Iran Col. Afshar (Sultan-9)
Iran Cpt. Sedqi (Sultan-7)
Iran Maj. Showqi (Sultan-1)
6 F-4 Phantom fighter-bombers, each equipped with 12 Mk 82s
2 F-14 Tomcat interceptors
3 tankers
4 MiG-23 fighters
Casualties and losses
None 1 airbase bombed
1 French technician killed, another one injured
2 MiG-21 fighters and 3 Mil Mi-8 helicopters destroyed on the ground
4 MiG-23 fighters downed
3 pilots killed, 1 pilot captured

Operation Sultan 10 (Persian: عملیات سلطان ١٠‎) was an operation of the Iranian Air Force on 29 October 1980, the beginning of the Iran–Iraq War. In this operation six F-4E Phantom IIs from IRIAF's 31st and 3rd[contradictory] Squadrons took part in an attack on the Al-Hurriah Airbase near Mosul in Saddam Hussein's Iraq.


In the last days of October 1980, commanders of the 1st Tactical Air Base (TAB 1) of Iran in Tehran received intelligence that French engineers had been sent to Iraq and numbers of Mirage F1s which the Iraqi Air Force had bought from France held at Al-Hurriah Airbase near Mosul. This personnel of the French Air Force were appointed to train Iraqi pilots and technicians to use Mirage F1s.


The operation was called Sultan-10, meaning only 10 fighters were supposed to cross the borders (Sultan 1 to 10). The target was 180 miles inside Iraq at Mosul. Eight Phantom (code-named Sultan-1 to 6) (2 as reserve), 3 Tomcat (Sultan-7 and 8) (1 as reserve) and 3 Boeing 707 tankers (Sultan-9 and 10(1 as reserve) were planned for the operation. Both Tomcat fighters should have been beside tankers to protect them, because loss of tankers would cost the loss of all 6 Phantoms. If the operational team crossed the Iran's border right to Mosul they would engage with Air Defence bases which were supplied with SA-2, SA-3, and SA-6. Commanders ordered radio silence and start the operation before dawn. Just before getting into Iraq borders they refueled and used Turkish air space to enter Iraq. Tankers and Tomcats stayed at low altitude and waited for the Phantoms return.

During protecting tankers one of Tomcat's radars was always off to reduce recognition possibilities by Iraq.

Meanwhile, the attack team bombed Mosul and was on their way to Iran. Because of using max capacity of air-to-surface missiles, none of Phantoms had air-to-air missiles.

By advantage of AN/AWG-9, Tomcats noticed that 4 fighters are heading toward Phantoms at 40 miles. As the Phantoms did not have any missiles to protect themselves, Sultan-7 (Captain Sedqi) and Sultan-8 (Captain Tayebi) were ordered to protect them. They headed toward them and raised their altitude to 15,000 ft. But they did not noticed the existence of Tomcats. so they raised to 20,000 ft and again to 22,000 ft.[1]

Sultan-7 missiles: 2 AIM-54, 2 AIM-9, 3 AIM-7

Sultan-8 missiles: 2 AIM-9, 6 AIM-7

At 45 miles from those 4 fighters the Tomcats recognized there were 4 Mig-23. Sultan-7 ordered both Tomcats to turn their ECCM on. But after a while his own system failed and Sultan-8 ECCM must have covered both aircraft. at 20 mile from four Mig-23, Captain Sedqi told his co-pilot to prepare two AIM-54 Phoenix missiles. The first missile launched, followed 8 seconds later by the second. The first missile destroyed aircraft at the same time of hit. The second one seemed to not hit it, but co-pilot said it paralyzed the plane and Sultan-8 confirmed it along this report that the warhead exploded either earlier or later that it is supposed to. Iraqi fighters now noticed the danger and reduced their altitude which Iranian pilots said was the mistake that made their work easier. In only 7 miles to 2 the Mig-23, it supposed to Sultan-7 and 8 launch their missiles together, but it revealed the CSD system of Sultan-8 was not working, which meant he could not use its missiles and only could use the M61 Vulcan. Captain Sedqi (Sultan-7) told Sultan-8 to stay aside the Sultan-9 and Sultan-10 and wait until he came back. Sedqi turned the afterburner on and the two Mig-23s split up with the leader going right and the follower going left. Sedqi chased the leader and released first AIM-7 which hit the tail and seconds later a wing detached and it leaped toward the ground. Then the co-pilot noticed that the other Mig-23 is approaching from behind. Sedqi shut the afterburner off and by performing a maneuver, reduced the speed from 520 miles to 150 miles and took the nose cone down, toward the Mig-23 that was now passing below and shot the second AIM-7 which hit the tail, sending the Mig-23 went down, but its pilot ejected and it was the only pilot who survived. One of the killed pilots was Ahmad Sabah, who took down 2 Northrop F-5 of IRIAF in the early days of war.[2]


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