Military Aviation

All Iranian Characters Killed in Jan. 3 US Air Strike, the IRIAF F-14s scrambled to Intercept the MQ-9 UAV that conducted the Air Raid and All the Latest Updates about Major-General Qasem Soleimani’s Death

The death of Soleimani is going to change exactly nothing because Soleimani was easily ‘replaced’ by several ‘high-class technocrats’ of the IRGC-Quds Force.

As reported by all major media outlets, on Jan. 3, 2020 the US killed Major-General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad air strike.

To resume, a Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)-operated MQ-9 Reaper UAV, armed either with GBU-12s or AGM-114s, killed:

  • – Major-General Qasem Soleimani
  • – Major-General Hussein Jaafari Naya (or Niya)
  • – Colonel Shahrud Mudhaffari Niya
  • – Major Hadi Taremi
  • – Captain Vahid Zamaniyan– Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (head of the Kata’ib Hezbollah an-Nujba)
  • – Muhammed Reza al-Jaberi
  • – Hassan Abdul Hadi
  • – Muhammed ash-Shibani
  • – Haidar Ali
MQ-9 Reaper

Foremost, other really important characters there – like Qais al-Khazali (CO Assaib Ahl al-Haqq), Abu Ala’a al-Wala’i (Katayb Sayd ash-Shuhada), and Shabl az-Zaidi (Katayb Imam Ali) – all came away. Word is, they’re meanwhile in Iran.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) scrambled a pair of F-14 Tomcat fighters ‘in response’ to the US strike, yesterday in the morning. Of course, they remained well inside the Iranian airspace.

No idea why, but this is kind of leaving me with ‘mixed feelings’.


First of all, this is coming much too late: at least 10 years too late. Back then, Soleimani was still somebody that actually mattered – in sense of being one ‘organising troubles’ for the Americans in Iraq.

IRIAF F-14A Tomcat

Secondly. it’s as fascinating as ironic to see the US armed forces remaining obsessed with the idea of ‘de-capitating strikes’ – even more so after something like 70-100 years of history of such strikes proving near-pointless.

‘In detail’…. No matter how much famed, Soleimani was never a ‘mastermind’. He was an executor: executor of orders he was receiving ‘directly’ (well: actually via Wahid Haghanian) from the ‘Leader of the Islamic Revolution’, ‘Ayatollah’ Khamenei.

While certainly ‘still intimidating’ for many of Iraqi politicians and few of military commanders, especially back in the 2000s, in Tehran he fell out of favour after failing during the Battle of Tikrit. What happened? He proved an incompetent battlefield commander when failing to organise an ‘IRGC-only’ (IRGC,  Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) attempt to liberate that city from the Daesh. Ever since, he played the role of a ‘morale booster’ for all the IRGC-run proxies in Iraq and Syria, but had absolutely no say in any kind of tactical decisions.

Actually, the death of Soleimani is going to change exactly nothing because Soleimani was easily ‘replaced’ by several ‘high-class technocrats’ of the IRGC-QF (IRGC-Quds Force) already long before his death, and these have proved their mettle by organising such gangs like the Katayb Hezbollah an-Nujba in Iraq, or diverse of ‘pro-regime militias’ in Syria.

Major-General Qasem Soleimani

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force and Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force

Check out Helion & Company website for books featuring interesting stories written by The Aviation Geek Club contributor Tom Cooper

Tom Cooper

Tom Cooper is an Austrian aerial warfare analyst and historian. Following a career in the worldwide transportation business – during which he established a network of contacts in the Middle East and Africa – he moved into narrow-focus analysis and writing on small, little-known air forces and conflicts, about which he has collected extensive archives. This has resulted in specialisation in Middle Eastern, African and Asian air forces. As well as authoring and co-authoring 560 books and over 1,000 articles, he has co-authored the Arab MiGs book series – a six-volume, in-depth analysis of the Arab air forces at war with Israel, in the 1955–73 period. Cooper has been working as editor of the five @War series since 2017.

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