By: Mir M.Hosseini
Shortly after the Iraqi monarchy was overthrown in a military coup on July 14, 1958, the new government under General Abd al-Karim Qasim withdrew from the Baghdad Pact which was formed in 1955 by Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Thus without Iraq; the organization was renamed as CENTO.
Unlike NATO, CENTO did not have a unified military command structure, nor were many U.S. or UK military bases established in member countries, although the U.S. had communications and electronic intelligence facilities in Iran.
Before the CENTO Ministerial Meeting in Tehran (April 28-30, 1960), IIAF received its first squadron of F-86F transonic jet fighter aircrafts on April, 13, 1960. Before that, the most advanced aircrafts in Imperial Iranian Air Force were 69 units of F-84G turbojet fighter-bomber aircrafts which had entered service in may 1957. The new pilots were chosen from veteran F-84 team. These were same patriotic pilots who had encountered invasion of Allied Powers in Aug, 1941 until they had completely run out of gas, long after army generals of ground forces had given up resistance. They formed the first squadron of F-86s in Mehrabad Airport which later expanded to Vahdati AFB in Dezful.
During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, probably with US approval, Pakistan received significant support from Iran including Five F-86s.
In late December 1962, Mohammad Reza Shah of Iran granted his approval for deployment of four Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF) F-86F Sabres in response to the corresponding UN request to Congo Crisis. These aircrafts arrived at the Kamina Airfield on January, 19 1963. Between the nine IIAF pilots who flew in Congo were Captain Khatami, Captain Amir-Hossein Rabie, and two other officers from Vahdati AFB who reached the rank of general in the 1970s.
Gradually, the Iranian army became a machete in the Cold War to the degree that Iran was called the Gendarme of the Persian Gulf. The Iranian revolution, and subsequent Iran's withdrawal as the secretary-general from CENTO spelled the end of the organization in 1979.
During the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) the Iranian Air Force had to look for other resources for its needs due to US embargo and subsequent trade sanctions. Iran applied a systematic research and development program in the aviation industry and with a scientific approach, using techniques such as reverse-engineering, IRIAF developed indigenous Multirole Fighters such as HESA Saeqeh, and a light attack aircraft named HESA Azarakhsh. Iran is currently developing advanced fighter aircrafts called Shafaq and Qaher-313.