Well, we knew this already, but a Wikileaks-posted cable from the US Embassy in Tehran in 1972 shows how the United States rushed to arm the Shah’s Iran, concerned over Soviet interests in the area.
The cable indicates that the state department urged the delivery of one of several squadrons of F-4 jets to Iran as soon as possible, even if that meant delaying the United States Air Force’s resupply of F-4’s.
It is a glimpse into the Cold War, a period of time quickly fading from memory, given that as of December 31, no one under age 19 will have been alive during the existence of the Soviet Union.
Further, the United States closed its Iranian embassy after the 1979 revolution and has used the Swiss embassy to deal with “American interests” since 1980. Most Blast Magazine readers have not been alive during a time in which the US had diplomatic relations with Iran.
In the leaked cable, the Iranian Minster of War, General Reza Azimi, asked the Americans to speed up the production line to accelerate the delivery of a squadron of 16 F-4E attack jets to Iran before the end of 1972.
“REQUEST REFLECTS SHAH’S INCREASING CONCERN OVER SOVIET AMBITIONS IN AREA AND ESPECIALLY THREAT SHAH SEES TO IRAN OF FRIENDSHIP TREATY UNDER CONSIDERATION BY IRAQ AND USSR. SHAH RECOGNIZES PROBLEMS THIS POSES FOR US BUT IS TURNING TO USG (United States Government) WITH THIS REQUEST TO GIVE IRAN HIGHER PRIORITY ON FA-4E PRODUCTION SCHEDULE BECAUSE HE REGARDS US (United States) AS MOST DEPENDABLE FRIEND,” the cable reads
At the end, the embassy urges the United States government to “give prompt and sympathetic attention” to the Shah of Iran’s request for the F-4E jets, from whatever sources may be available to be tapped (including deliveries to USAF).”
In total, Iran received 32 F-4D, 177 F-4E, and 16 RF-4E aircraft. The country still has 65 total American F-4 aircraft in service in the Iranian Air Force. An Iranian F-4 crashed due to “technical failure” in August. The pilots survived by ejecting, according to PressTV, an English-language state-funded media organization in Tehran.
The F-4 was a versatile jet with a distinguished record, shooting down more than 100 aircraft in the Vietnam War. It has both air-to-air and ground attack abilities. The F-4D and F-4E were exported widely and featured an internal M61 Vulcan cannon. The jet can travel at speeds above Mach 2.
The American-armed Iranian Imperial Air Force was considered second only to the Israelis in the Middle East, and it was a rival to the Soviets during the Cold War. The Iranians also purchased F-5 fighters and the legendary F-14 Tomcat.