By: Mir M.Hosseini
Iraq staged a surprise attack on Iran Air Force bases on Sep, 22, 1980. Their plan was to destroy Iranian Air Force power, a tactic Israel used in 1967 against Egypt, Jordan and Syria. In the first wave of two air assaults, 192 Iraqi planes attacked several targets in Iran. 6 enemy war planes headed for the Mehrabad Airport, but only 3 of them succeeded in reaching their targets. Fortunately, most of Iranian planes were kept in bunkers and were slightly damaged.
Iran's first reaction was swift, Iranian Air Force pulled itself quickly together and enemy airplanes became target of anti-aircraft warfare. Then there came a big surprise when in less than two hours a counter-strike was formed in Iran Air Force bases in Nojeh and Bushehr. There was not a significant air defense when Iranian planes poured their bombs on al Rashid and Shoaybah bases in Iraq on the afternoon of Sep, 22, 1980. On the same day, pre-defined targets in Omolghasr near Arvand Rood were destroyed. Iraq had to move its Soviet MIG planes to al-Walid air base near Jordan to keep them safe from Iranian airstrikes.
Iranian technicians started mounting hundreds of bombs and missiles on all available airplanes preparing for a historical air strike inside Iraq known as Kaman 99.
On Sep, 23, 1980, the Kaman 99 Operation started just before dawn:
- 40 F-4 Phantoms took off from Nojeh base near Hamedan. After refueling in mid-air they reached the Iraqi capital Baghdad, where they attacked al Rashid, al Habbaniyah and al Kut airbases.
- Iran launched 58 F-5 Tigers from Tabriz, which were sent to attack Mosul Airbase. After that, 50 planes attacked Nasiriyah Airbase, which was heavily damaged.
- As all 146 Iranian F-4s and F-5s had been sent for a bombing raid on Iraq, 60 F-14 Tomcats were defending Iranian airspace against a possible retaliation.
- Iran dealt a heavy blow and Iraqi airbases near Iran were out of order for months.
- However, with help from world superpowers, Iraqis would advance into Khuzestan.
- It would take about 2 years before Iranians could expel the invaders from their territory. The Iran–Iraq War endured for 8 years, becoming the longest conventional war of the 20th century in which more than one million people would die.
- Iran became target of chemical weapons supplied to Iraq by Europe.