Review of the Eagle Eyes

For Air Force Day (February 8)

Radmehr Soheili
Translated by: Zahra Hosseinian

2022-2-16


Undoubtedly, eight years of war and fighting against the invasion of the Baathist enemy had played a significant role in the history of the Iranian nation. Men, women, old and young, all along with the armed forces created an epic and resisted the enemy. The Air Force had a special place in this resilience. Brave pilots and crews sacrificed themselves to fight the invading enemy. Various fighters, bombers, and transport units directly played a crucial role in carrying out different operations on the battlefield.

The Eagle Eyes looks at the history of the Air Force and one of its units. Considering the role of the 11th Tactical Reconnaissance Battalion in the holy defense, this book has four chapters and five appendices.

The first chapter deals with aerial reconnaissance, its types, and the history of aerial photography in various wars, including the First and Second World Wars, the Cold War, etc.

The second chapter introduces the 11th Air Force Tactical Reconnaissance Battalion. Also, the structure and equipment of this unit, including the flight, laboratory, photo interpretation, and camera sections, are described in detail.

In the third chapter, the most important actions of the 11th Reconnaissance Battalion, from its establishment in 1958 to 1980, including the border conflicts with Iraq before the revolution, and the Zoffar war, are studied.

The fourth chapter is the heart of the book. It is dedicated to the period of the imposed war, and describes the function of the 11th Battalion in reconnaissance and the role of aerial photography in the holy defense. During the war, the most useful tools to collect data from front lines and strategic points of Iraq were McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II aircraft, which belonged with the 11th Tactical Reconnaissance Battalion of the Mehrabad base. By taking aerial photographs, these aircraft determined the exact location of the forces' gathering, heavy weapons, air defense sites, and routes for Iranian forces to infiltrate. Accurate examination and interpretation of aerial photographs enabled ground forces commanders to infiltrate enemy territory in the middle of the night and carry out successful operations. Sometimes a photo led to capture thousands of invading forces, and other times it saved the lives of thousands of fighters. The small number of pilots, the lack of flight equipment, including aircraft, cameras, and arms embargoes, never prevented reconnaissance flights. The brave and experienced pilots of F-4 aircraft risked their lives many times to successfully return the aircraft and its photographs to the base while carrying out successful shooting operations. This process continued until the end of the war and was successful, but some pilots were martyred. In this chapter, the author has attempted to describe the sacrifices of forces and the role of this unit in different operations during the eight years of the holy defense, relying on written documents as well as interviews with the pilots and specialists of the 11th Reconnaissance Battalion.

As mentioned earlier, this book has five appendices. The first appendix contains the names of the pilots and specialists in the 11th Reconnaissance Battalion. The second is a selection of aerial photographs. The third contains photos of the 11th Reconnaissance Battalion, including pilots and specialists. The fourth deals with the current status of these individuals. And finally, the fifth appendix is the list of references.

This book was written by Mohsen Shirmohammad in 400 pages and was published by the Air Force Strategic Publishing Center in 2017. It was selected as the Book of the Year 2017, and the author was selected as the Nahaja Author of the Year.

Based on an interview with the second brigadier general Mahmoud Kangarloo about his commission and that of another pilot of the 11th Reconnaissance Battalion with an RF-4 aircraft during Fath Al-Mubin Operation, on pages 205 and 206 we read:

"On March 15, I went on a mission with Mohammad Yavari to photograph the western region of Dezful. On the advice of Nasser Rezvani, we adjusted the flight plan so that we could be in the area at noon, when there is the least shadow in the photos, so the positions and equipment of the enemy in the operational area of Fath al-Mubin would be identified.

We left Mehrabad at about 11:00, and after contacting the Boeing 747, we reached the tanker to refuel. Before entering the Khuzestan plain, we noticed the presence of enemy planes during the contact with the radar, and we changed our route and waited for a few minutes for the white situation. As soon as the normal situation was announced, we quickly moved to the west of Khuzestan and reduced the flight altitude. Before entering the target zone, Yavari put the aircraft in an afterburner and soared fast to an altitude of 50,000 feet. With one dive, the altitude was reduced to 45,000 feet, but the speed of the phantom was increased to about twice the speed of sound. I turned on the cameras and photographing started. There were no SAM-2 missiles, but a variety of defensive bullets were fired from the ground that did not reach high altitudes. A few seconds passed quickly, and we returned to our region, so I turned off the cameras. We reduced our altitude, and according to the previous arrangements, refueled from the tanker on the way back, then landed in Mehrabad.

Several hours after landing, I went to the lab with Yavari to see the photos. Because we were in enemy positions at noon, there was a little shadow in all the photos, thus they were very clear. In the evening of the same day, these photos first were sent to Dezful by a Falcon jet after initial interpretation. Then, they were sent to the Karbala base at night. Tomorrow, the Karbala base requested that the same zone be photographed again. Because I had completed the mission with Yavari yesterday, we were assigned to repeat the flight. Like the day before, we went to the zone around noon, and fortunately, we did the photography without any problems and returned safe and sound. The photos again were sent to the Karbala base on the same day."



 
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