Operation Kaman 99
Operation Alborz (Persian: عملیات البرز), more commonly known by the code-name Operation Kaman 99 (عملیات کمان 99), was an operation launched by the Iranian Air Force in retaliation to Iraqi surprise aerial attacks on Iran the day before which marked the beginning of the 8-year-long Iran–Iraq War.
140 Iranian fighter-bombers, plus 60 interceptors and tankers were involved in this operation, and at least 380 air force personnel were involved in this operation, making this the most large-scale operation conducted by the Iranian Air Force.
Kirkuk, Al-Rasheed, Nasiriya, Habbaniyah (including Tammuz), Shaiba, Kut, and Umm Qasr airbases, as well as Baghdad International Airport and Al-Muthanna Airport were bombed during the operation.
22 September 1980, Iraq launched surprise air strikes on strategic locations in Iran employing a total of 166 to 192 fighter and bomber aircraft.
However, having learned from the Six-Day War, Iran had built hardened aircraft shelters where most of its combat aircraft were stored, thus the Iraqis succeeded mainly in cratering Iranian runways (which were quickly repaired), without causing any significant damage to Iran’s Air Force. Now the Iranian Air Force started preparing for a counter-attack which was to be launched the next day.
23 September 1980, Iran launched Operation Kaman 99 as 40 F-4 Phantoms, armed with Mark 82, Mark 83 and Mark 84 bombs and AGM-65 Maverick missiles, took off from Hamadan Air Base. After refueling in mid-air the Phantoms reached the Iraqi capital Baghdad, where[verification needed] they attacked al-Rasheed, Habbaniyah and Kut airbases. Meanwhile, eight more F-4s took off from Tehran's Mehrabad and launched a second attack on the al-Rasheed Air Base.
As all 146 Iranian F-4s and F-5s had been sent for a bombing raid on Iraq, 60 F-14 Tomcats were scrambled to defend Iranian airspace against a possible Iraqi retaliation. Iranian F-14s managed to down 2 Iraqi MiG-21s (1 MiG-21RF and 1 MiG-21MF) and 3 Iraqi MiG-23s (MiG-23MS), an Iranian F-5E also shot down an Iraqi Su-20 during the operation.
- 48 F-5E fighter-bombers from Tabriz Air Base bombed Mosul Air Base. The Air Base was not operable "for months".
- 40 F-5E fighter-bombers from Dezful Air Base bombed Nasiriya Air Base.
- 16 F-4E fighter-bombers from Hamadan Air Base bombed Kut Air Base. According to Iranian reports, the airbase was completely destroyed.
- 12 F-4E fighter-bombers from Bushehr Air Base bombed Shaiba Air Base.
- 12 F-4E fighter-bombers from Hamadan Air Base bombed Al-Rasheed Air Base near Baghdad, destroying 80% of it. Several MiG-23s were destroyed on the ground.
- 8 F-4E fighter-bombers from Hamadan Air Base bombed Baghdad International Airport and Northern Habbaniya Air Base (including Tammuz airbase) west of Baghdad.
- Kirkuk Air Base, Al-Muthanna Airport and other targets were bombed in later air raids.
Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi military were dealt a heavy blow when Iranian Air Force vulnerabilities failed to materialize. All Iraqi Air Bases near Iran were out of order for months and, according to Iran, Iraq's aerial efficiency was reduced by 55%. This allowed Iranians to regroup and prepare for the upcoming Iraqi invasion. However, Iraqis would advance deep into Khuzestan and it would take the Iranians up to 2 years before they would finally expel the Iraqis from their territory and eventually enter Iraq. The War endured another 6 years, becoming the longest conventional war of the 20th century in which perhaps close to one million were maimed and killed.
In popular culture
- Iranian book "140+8 Aircraft" (Persian: 8+140 فروندی), written by Brigadier General Ahmad Mehrnia
- Marjane Satrapi mentions the battle in a chapter of her autobiographical graphic novel Persepolis, where the father of her former classmate Pardisse Entezami was killed in action.
- ACIG Iraqi Air-to-Air Victories since 1967 (page 4) 20 May 2006
- Iraqi Air-to-Air Victories since 1967
- ACIG Iranian Air-to-Air Victories, 1976-1981 16 September 2003 Chronological Listing of Iranian Air Force McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II Losses & Ejections][dead link]
- "Kaman" (کمان, meaning "bow"), is a reference to the legendary figure Arash the Archer, and 99 is a reference to the 99 pages of the plan of the operation. See 
- Tafażżolī, Ahmed, "Āraš i", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 2, New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, pp. 266–267.