Iran's F-14 Tomcat vs. Saudi Arabia's F-15SA
Iran’s F-14 Tomcat vs. Saudi Arabia’s F-15SA: A historic face-off between two iconic American-made fighters, highlighting the complexities of modern military conflicts.

Introduction

For decades, Iran and Saudi Arabia have been entangled in complex geopolitical tensions, often spilling over into military confrontations. These conflicts have drawn global attention, particularly due to their roles in the Middle East’s political crises and wars, notably in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq.

Now, the possibility of a military battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia brings a new dimension: a face-off between two iconic American-made fighter jets, the F-14A Tomcat and the F-15SA Eagle. Currently, the Saudi Air Force’s main fighter is the F-15SA Eagle, while Iran’s is the F-14A Tomcat. Both are made in the United States.

In a possible military battle, the F-14 and F-15, two of the best fighters ever made in the United States, will face each other for the first time in history. Who will win? Iran is the only country in the world with F-14 Tomcats in its Air Force.

Iran's F-14 Tomcat vs. Saudi Arabia's F-15SA
f-14 Tomcats

This swept-wing fighter from the fourth generation was made at the same time as the Eagle and served a purpose not too different from that of the Eagle.

Even though it was heavier, the Tomcat could use much more powerful sensors, and its ability to take off quickly made it the perfect plane for protecting U.S. Navy carrier strike groups from attacks from the air.

Reports say Iran’s air force uses 44 Tomcats the country bought in the 1970s. Modern F-15SAs are better than the Iranian F-14As in a dogfight from a long way away.

In particular, the F-14A of the Iranian Navy can only use the older analog AN/AWG-9 radar, while the F-14D of the U.S. Navy can use the newer, digital AN/AWG-15 radar.

Only at 160 kilometers can AN/AWG-9 spot a bomber-sized target. It has been reported that China has helped Iran upgrade its F-14A fighter jet. However, this likely involves only a software conversion package and some technical equipment to make the plane compatible with weaponry made in Russia and China.

Since the 1970s, both the Eagle and the Tomcat have had a lot of changes. Iran says that the F-14 has had more than 250 upgrades, such as new sensors and a more powerful radar, updated avionics, electronic warfare and fire control systems, and Fakour-90 missiles installed in place of AIM-54 missiles.

To achieve air superiority, the F-15 was created. The F-14 serves as an interceptor, provides air superiority, and is a multirole fighter. The F-15SA’s superior ability to make sharp turns at high speed gives it an edge in dogfights.

However, the F-14’s variable swept wing design and emphasis on long-range air warfare capability to intercept Soviet strategic bombers made complicated aerobatics problematic.

Several crucial criteria must be examined regarding which side would be best equipped to claim air superiority. A cutting-edge airborne early warning and control system aircraft, like the E-3 Sentry, backs up Saudi Arabia’s F-15SA fighter jet.

These systems are crucial for providing high situational awareness and coordinating offensive and defensive operations by several fighter squadrons, thanks to their deployment of heavier and more powerful radar systems when acting in conjunction with fighter aircraft. Due to a lack of AWACS equipment, Iran is significantly disadvantaged in military conflicts.

Which side has air superiority depends on several factors.

The cutting-edge E-3 Sentry backs Saudi Arabia’s F-15SA fighter plane. These technologies are critical for delivering high situational awareness and coordinating offensive and defensive operations by numerous fighter squadrons when used with fighter aircraft. Iran is disadvantaged in wars without AWACS equipment.

Iran's F-14 Tomcat vs. Saudi Arabia's F-15SA
Royal Saudi Air Force F-15

The Saudi F-15SA is backed by a strong air force comprising the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Panavia Tornado, and the F-15C Eagle. Each can carry many more AIM-120C missiles and has state-of-the-art active electronically scanned array radars that give it a much better idea of its peripheral surroundings.

Even though Iran’s F-14s are few and don’t have AWACS, they still have some advantages for engagements beyond the visual range. Each fighter can fire up to six Fakour-90 missiles at Saudi Eagles at ranges of over 250 km, which is well beyond the range of retaliation.

At very long ranges, the AIM-54 showed high accuracy against fighter-sized targets much smaller than the F-15. The Fakour-90 is expected to be even more accurate than its American predecessor, which was made in the mid-1960s.

Iran's F-14 Tomcat vs. Saudi Arabia's F-15SA
Fakour-90 missile

If you only look at the features, Iran’s F-14A has almost no chance of beating Saudi Arabia’s F-15SA. However, it’s important to remember that tactics are also very important and can make the difference between success and failure.

The situation in the Middle East is still very complicated, and both sides will find ways to avoid war. We hope the F-14 and the F-15 will not get into a “historic confrontation.”

Conclusion

The potential showdown between Iran’s F-14A Tomcat and Saudi Arabia’s F-15SA Eagle offers a glimpse into the intricate nature of modern warfare. While technological superiority often dictates outcomes on paper, history has shown that tactics, strategy, and situational awareness can tip the scales.

In the volatile landscape of the Middle East, where political, religious, and economic interests intersect, the hope remains that diplomacy will prevail and these powerful machines will not be pitted against each other in a “historic confrontation.”