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Operation Morvarid

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  Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Operation Morvarid
    Posted: 28-Nov-2007 at 20:35
Since so many opinions on the matter of the Iraq and Iran war of the 80s that I have read on this site seem to be devoid of much reality I have decided to open this thread.  Its primary feature being a book excerpt (Tom Muffin) describing the combined Iranian retaliatory assault on Iraq's heavily defended Al Faw facility in late November 1980: Operation Morvarid. 
 
OPERATION MORVARID: THE STRIKE AGAINST AL FAW

Before the onset of the rainy season in 1980 brought a break in the fighting Iranians showed one more time what kind of operations their regular armed services were still capable of. After the technicians of the IRIAF and the IRIAA prepared as many planes and helicopters as possible, on the afternoon of the 28 November Phantoms and Tigers began a new series of strikes against Iraqi airfields around Basrah, and during this operations shot down one defending MiG-21. So began the Iranian operation Morvarid. During the night hours of the 29 November 1980, at least six ships of the Islamic Revolutionary Iran Navy's (IRINA) Task Force 421 landed a party of Marine Commandos on the Iraqi oil terminals at Mina al Bakr and Khor-al-Amaya. The swift operation, supported by AH-1J Sea Cobras, AB.214 Isfahans and CH-47C Chinooks of the IRIAA, took the enemy completely by surprise. During the short gun fight, most defenders were gunned down. After that, the Marines placed a large number of bombs and mines before being evacuated by helicopters. A series of fierce explosions shattered the air, as further Iraqi oil installations - and very important early warning bases - were going up in flames.

At the same time, two Iranian missile boats of the Combattante II class, Peykan and Joshan, blocked the entrance into the ports of Al Faw and Umm Qasr and shelled both facilities, where meanwhile over 60 foreign ships were blocked.

The Iraqi Navy was compelled to react, and in the morning, two groups of her P183 (NATO Code P-6) motor-torpedo boats, and five P205/205A (NATO Code Osa I/II) fast-attack crafts started a counterattack. Both Iranian and Iraqi ships exchanged intensive missile fire, with Iranian BGM-86 Harpoon missiles scoring several hits and sinking two Osas. After a while, however, Peykan was attacked by three further Osa II boats and the crew called the IRIAF for help. Immediately, two Phantoms, both armed with six AGM-65A Maverick air-to-ground missiles, were scrambled from Bushehr and send to the north. However, they couldn't reach the scene of the naval battle before Peykan succumbed to the hits of two SS-N-2 Styx surface-to-surface missiles. Outraged, two Phantoms crews opened fire at every Iraqi ship that could be found: three Iraqi Osa IIs as well as four P-6s could be sunk in less than five minutes! One of them got three Maverick-hits and exploded in a brillinat fireball. Couple of minutes later, four F-4Ds from Shiraz bombed the port of Al Faw and adjacent depots and magazines with laser-guided bombs, while surrounding Iraqi SAM-sites were hit by F-4Es and F-5Es. The Iraqis, already shattered by the massive destruction of their facilities and heavy losses, claimed one Phantom as shot down by SAMs, but the damaged plane managed to land at Bandar Musharaf.

Further formations of Iranian Phantoms and Tomcats joined the scene, covering the withdrawal of Joshan and the rest of the Task Force 421. Phantoms first hit one Iraqi oil rig, where one SA.321GV Super Frelon helicopter, armed with AM.39 Exocet missile, was parked. The helicopter and the rig got three Maverick hits and were blown to pieces.

At that moment, two groups of Iraqi MiG-23MS interceptors and one of MiG-23BN fighter-bombers appeared on the scene. The following air battle over Mina al Bakr terminal was at least as lethal as the naval clash minutes before: Iranian Phantoms, free of their heavy bomb-loads, turned into MiG-23MSs and shot three of them down, loosing one of their airplanes in the process. The second Iraqi formation of four MiG-23BNs attacked Joshan, but lost two of its members to SA-7 missiles, fired by the crew of the patrol craft. The third MiG was then despatched by AIM-7F-4 Sparrows of Iranian Tomcats. Shortly afterward, the operation Morvarid, a full-fledged success for Iranians, was terminated. In less than 12 hours, they managed to sink up to seven motor-torpedo boats and missile crafts - or almost 80% - of the Iraqi Navy, destroy the oil terminals at Mina al Bakr and Khor-al-Amaya, and block the port of Al Faw. The Iraqis also lost one MiG-21, six MiG-23MS and MiG-23BNs and one Super Frelon. The IRIAF suffered a loss of one F-4E shot down and one damaged.

The operation Morvarid actually marked the end of the first phase in the war between Iraq and Iran in which both sides mounted their - then - most modern equipment in a full-scale fighting. After that the conflict was actually sustained with constrained, episodic action interspersed with bouts of feverish combat. Generally speaking the Iraqi military planers, particularly Saddam Hussein, failed to make a correct assessment of the capabilities of their troops and badly underestimated the enemy. Iraqi armed forces were capable of achieving only limited objectives, such as securing a part of the Shatt al Arab or severing Dezful from the rest of Iran. But as they tried to capture Khoramshahr and Abadan and at the same time attacked Ahwaz and Dezful, they lost valuable time as well as the advantage of the surprise. The first two cities suffered badly, but were actually not crucial if the Iraqi intention was to deprive Iran of precious Khuzistan oil and secure an entrance into the Gulf. However, the failure to capture Dezful and its vital Vahidyeh air base, and thus cut off Iranian supply lines, was in due course to lead to Iraq's expulsion from Khuzistan."

Many thanks to Tom Muffin for all his support to IINavy Site.

Book about history of Iranian Air Force and the war with Iraq, by Tom Muffin will be available shortly and we plan to announce the date as soon as possible.

 
Another notable operation is Kaman 99 in which 140 Iranian warplanes struck Iraqi support airfields and facilities within hours of the Iraqi invasion, essentially depriving the Iraqi forces of close-at-hand air cover.
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  Quote Seko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Nov-2007 at 20:41
Not being an afficionado of that war I have limited knowledge of it at best.
 
Good reading by the way. So, do you approve of the knowledge that the author shares in that excerpt?
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  Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Nov-2007 at 21:57

I don't like the tone as it does not seem very academic but apart from that, the knowledge itself comes from first hand sources.  As with all non-Basij movements, coverage of such professional operations were largely overlooked and ignored in the mainstream (even military) media which to a large part has shaped the view of the Iranian effort during the war.  This coverage concentrated more on the Basij effort showing the Iranian effort to be comprised primarily of rag-tag human wave assaults, which is reflected in previous member posts on the war to which I have alluded.

One member once mocked, "they couldn't even beat Iraq in 8 years".  Saddam was actually completely expelled from all Iranian territory after 18 months. And there are several reasons why he did not completely collapse including the fact that practically all powers in the world provided material support to Saddam.  In his initial assault the Americans provided full itnelligence on Iran's air defence network which they installed (same as what the French did to Saddam a decade later). The Germans provided chemical agents stored, for whatever reason, from their Nazi era.  The Russians and French provided immense amounts of aircraft, even pilots, and armoured vehicles.   The Americans later provided the ingredients for further chemical weapons and sattelite pictures intelligence on Iranian positions.  It is still remarkable that for 6 years of the war, when pretty much all of Iran's advanced military resources were exhausted the ground war was fought in Iraq.
 
From a personal stand point, I lived near the vast front for 5 years and remember first hand the ferocity of the war and it was no small business.
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  Quote Seko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Nov-2007 at 22:05
Much appreciated Amigo. Yes, in the west the human wave factor sure did get its play aired out on TV. Being post hostage crisis and with a new President, US motives were clearly anti-Iranian.
 
Chalk this thread up as another Zagrosian blog to bring in a clear picture.
 
btw, must of been quite the experience living on the border.
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  Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Nov-2007 at 00:08
More than welcome dude. Yes, even though I was five when we left, I still have vivid memories of the alerts and sirons.  Whenever they went off we had to leave the house and stand with our backs to the walls until the alert went to yellow.   There were barracks about 100 metres across a wasteland from us, the AA guns used to go mad.  Me and my friend used to collect spent shells from it for fun.  The jets used to just pass over head ignore the barracks and head for town, bombing the bazaar, schools and hospitals.  My mother was a biology teacher and her school got bombed, after her classes had finished, thanfully.  Dozens of students were blown to pieces. In another sad incident a bomb fell directly through the ventilation shaft of a bomb shelter killing hundreds of people inside.
 
After we left, it got even worse, much of the population of Kermanshah had to evacuate.   There is still a crater 50 yards from my gran's house.
 
So when I sound a little passionate when people, without any experience of death and destruction, speak so flippantly about bombing this country or that, it's for good reason.
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  Quote Seko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Nov-2007 at 01:29
My sympathies to you, your loved ones. The sentimentality that war, no matter how necessary it may seem to those in power, has it's devestating human toll mortally, physically and emotionally.
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