Following a U.S. drone strike on the convoy of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps General Qasem Soleimani near Baghdad International Airport, which claimed the life of the senior commander and two dozen others, Tehran has vowed to respond with a “crushing revenge” sparking a rise in tensions across the Middle East.
Iran has scrambled F-14 fighter planes after pledging “crushing revenge” on the US amid growing fears of a fresh war in the Middle East.
The F-14 Tomcat is the heaviest and most capable fighter jet in the Iranian inventory today and has been extensively modernized in Iranian service with new cockpit displays, radars, and electronic warfare systems and with new indigenous long-range air to air missiles – namely the Fakour 90.
The fighters comprise two of Iran’s seventeen squadrons, with approximately three dozen in service, and are the only Iranian jets armed with modern standoff air to air missiles.
With much of the Iranian public likely to be demanding retribution for the killing of the Revolutionary Guards’ most venerated general, and with Tehran itself far more wary of sparking a major incident, deployment of the F-14s may divert some criticisms away from the government over its lack of an immediate response.
Iran’s top security body, the Supreme National Security Council, meanwhile met to discuss the attack – although it remains uncertain what form the Iranian response will take.
Brigadier-General Esmail Ghaani, deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, has been appointed as the force’s commander to replace General Soleimani.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry subsequently issued a statement warning that the U.S. bore responsibility for its “criminal attack,” and that the assassination would strengthen resistance against Americans in the Middle East.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, a close friend of the deceased general, meanwhile warned of a “harsh revenge” awaiting the “criminals” responsible for the attack.
While Iran is unlikely to respond with a strike of its own in the near future, particularly with its adversaries in the region including British, the U.S. and Israeli forces on high alert, the country has staged a major show of force within its own borders – scrambling its Air Force’s most capable fighter jets in considerable numbers to patrol the Western borders. The deployment was announced by Iranian state media.