Military Aviation

IRIAF P-3F Orion Buzzes US Navy Ships in the Gulf of Oman

Such IRIAF P-3F Orion low passes are reported as a regular occurrence in the Persian Gulf region.

Taken on Nov. 11, 2019 in the Gulf of Oman the photos in this post show an Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) P-3F Orion aircraft performing a low pass over US dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Alan Shepard (T-AKE 3) during a replenishment-at-sea with the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60). Normandy is part of the East Coast Surface Action Group and is operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.

Such passes are reported as a regular occurrence in the Persian Gulf region.

The IRIAF P-3Fs were delivered in the mid-1970s. The aircraft belong to the 71st Air Submarine Warfare squadron and are based at Shiraz air base (Shahid Dastghaib International Airport).

In 1973, former Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF) ordered six P-3Fs and these were delivered between Jul. 24, 1974 and Jan. 31, 1975 to an Iranian training detachment with VP-31 at NAS Moffett Field first. Early in April 1975 the aircraft departed for Iran. Although these aircraft are a derivative of the P-3C, they have several characteristics which are typical for the P-3B like the search light, wingtip mounted ESM and aerial outfit.

One of the P-3F’s was modified to launch Harpoon missiles.

One aircraft (serial 5-8702, possibly the one modified to carry Harpoon missiles) crashed on Feb. 15, 1985, while another one was reported to be a write-off as well in 1985. But according to Scramble Magazine, all five have been reported flying afterwards. So, there was no second write-off in 1985. There might have been an incident, but the aircraft must have been repaired.

Overview last noted dates P-3F Orion:
5-8701 – Oct09
5-8703 – Aug08
5-8704 – 2006
5-8705 – Nov19
5-8706 – May16

Scramble reports that two, possibly three, P-3Fs are still operational within the IRIAF. Two aircraft are used as spare parts or are rotated through a maintenance programme.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. P-3C Orion VP-40 Fighting Marlins, QE733 / 161733 / 1991

Photo credit: US Navy by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael H. Lehman

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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