Poking The Iranian Bear

Good friend of mine sends me an email, says, “Hey, amigo, you know all that military crap. Are we going to get slapped around by Iran? Poke the sleeping bear meme real? Are all the baristas at Starbucks going to get drafted?”

I laughed, called him, and said, “Where do you get this crap? Let me lay some facts on you.”

If the Iranians decide to retaliate for the US’s hit on Soleimani, the confrontation will likely degenerate into an air campaign from the American side.

Why? We don’t want to put ground troops into Iran. Make sense?

The Iranian Air Force

The Iranian Air Force has the following mixed bag of combat aircraft:

Russian MiG 29 multirole (fighter/bomber) aircraft — 20

Russian Su-17/20/22 attack aircraft — 10

Russian Su-24 attack aircraft — 23

US F-4 Phantom II fighter bomber aircraft — 63 (16 unarmed, recon only)

US F-5E fighter aircraft — 20 (includes some reverse engineered derivatives)

US F-14A/AM Tomcat fighter interceptor aircraft — 26

French Mirage F1 fighter aircraft — 9 (from Iraq when fleeing Desert Storm)

Iranian HESA Kowsar fighter aircraft — 7 (good avionics based on F-5 airframe)

Chinese F-7 fighter aircraft — 17 (built by Iran under license from China based on MiG-21)

Three important facts should stick out:

 1. The Iranian Air Force on its best day can get no more than 179 combat aircraft into the sky. That’s the total minus the recon F-4s.

The likelihood of the entire fleet being ready to fly is zero. They are desperately in need of parts. I suspect they can probably count on half that number.

Once combat operations start, that number goes down quickly and the air fields they fly to and from will begin to disappear most rickety tick.

 2. This is a hodgepodge of different aircraft meaning pilots must be aircraft-specific trained, parts must be a nightmare, and it will be difficult to coordinate that many different types of planes.

The Iranians have no flying command and control aircraft.

 3. This is an old air force. The US F-4 was eased out of the inventory by the US in the mid-1990s and its replacements can fly circles around it.

Even if every plane gets off the runway, they will be facing an overwhelming number of better aircraft flown by the best pilots on the planet.

The US Air Force

The US Air Force is the largest, best trained, most competent active air force in the world. Plus, we have some great reserve units that are not in the numbers here.

The USAF can bring a huge number of cutting edge aircraft to the fight from local airfields.

The US can bring the following inventory of fighters and multirole strike aircraft:

McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle — 210

 MDD F-15D Eagle — 23

MDD F-15E Strike Eagle — 281

General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon — 764

GD F-16D Fighting Falcon — 147

Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor — 186

LM F-35A Lightning II — 302 <<< 5th generation avionics, a killer

In addition, the Air Force can field 279 Fairchild Republic A-10C Thunderbolt II close air support aircraft.

In addition, the Air Force can provide 32 Spooky, Stinger II, and Ghostrider C-130 based gunships.

As to bombers, the US Air Force can provide:

Rockwell B-1B Lancer bomber — 62

Northrop Grumman B-2A Spirit bomber — 20

Boeing B-52H Stratorfortress bomber — 76

All of these long range bombers come with a complete refueling package that can keep them in the air for a long time.

If we stopped right there, you begin to get the picture of the relative size of our air forces, but there is more.

Ooops, did I forget to mention 2,000 stand off cruise missiles? My bad.

The US Navy


It is almost as big as the US Air Force, but it can deploy its aircraft from 19 aircraft carriers that can also use land based airfields within the region.

The Marines (part of the Navy technically) have their own air force including the F-35A Lightning II in a VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) capability.

The US Navy could handle the assignment by themselves and tell the Air Force to sleep in.

The US Army

The US Army can field up to 1,000 attack helicopters like the Longbow.

Bottom line it, Big Red Car

OK, the bottom line is this:

 1. There is no Iranian bear when it comes to a shooting war. Not even a cub.

 2. After the sportiest 15 minutes in the history of Middle East wars, the US Air Force and US Navy will own the skies. The US HARM missile — rides radar waves to the party — will become a household word.

 3. Every power plant, water plant, sewer plant, bridge, tunnel, airport, port, refueling site, commo facility, command/control site, radio station, military headquarters, nuclear enrichment site, and used rug store will continue to exist solely with the indulgence of the US Air Force and US Navy.

 4. The first ship of the Iranian Navy to leave port with evil intentions into the Strait of Hormuz will be sunk. It will sail into history, but it will be dead.

 5. Every air or naval refueling point will cease to exist. You cannot operate without fuel.

 6. There will be no air transport into or out of Iran. The Internet may go down.

 7. Things will get dicey. There will be pearl clutching. Count on AOC and The Squad rising to defend the terrorists. Dem candidates for President will vie to see who can say the stupidest, most ill-informed utterance. [The smart money is on Warren and Pete.]

 8. It will all be sorted out quick.

I, personally, am praying and hoping for some wisdom to make its way into the noggin of the Ayatollah, but that is a decidedly hard hand to fill.

But, no, the baristas will not be drafted. Most of them couldn’t pass the PT test. It’s a shame because Army coffee is lousy and it would be nice to upgrade the coffee supply.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car, but I know the numbers and the numbers tell the tale.