By: Mir M.Hosseini
On November 28, 1973, an RF-4C aircraft piloted by IIAF Major Shokouhnia and USAF Colonel John Saunders engaged a Soviet MiG-21 flown by Captain Gennadii N. Eliseev.
The Soviet pilot fired a Vympel K-13 missile at the Iranian aircraft, failing to destroy it. He pressed his attack, attempting to use his guns, only to find out that they were not functioning. Getting permission from ground control to attack in this manner he continued by ramming the Iranian aircraft but he lost his life in the process. He struck the RF-4C's tail assembly with his wing. This was the first deliberate jet to jet ramming by a Soviet aircraft during an interception, a practice common in the propeller age of WW2. Eliseev was posthumously awarded as a Hero of the Soviet Union. The crew of the RF-4C aircraft were captured by Soviet ground forces and released after 16 days.
The incident was an American scenario using Iran for a proxy war against USSR, also known as Project Dark Gene, it was an active, aerial espionage program run by the CIA and Imperial Iranian Air Force from bases inside Iran against the Soviet Union. The program was run in conjunction with Project Ibex, which was a more traditional ELINT mission. The first operations were during the 1960s with support of Iran's former Shah. Dedicated aircraft, air-bases and US personnel were stationed at numerous sites in Iran and would regularly fly across the border into the USSR through potential holes in their radar coverage. The intention of the program was to test the effectiveness of Soviet air defence and interception and resulted in one confirmed and possibly more combat losses in engagements with Soviet aircraft.