Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Iran transferred additional Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot attack jets to Iraq to aid its defense against the Islamist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Russia supplied an initial delivery of the aircraft just a few days ago as reported by IraqiNews.com.
But analysts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London say that a further delivery, on 1 July, originates from Iran.
This indicates that the US, which has also sent aircraft to Iraq as reported by IraqiNews.com, is operating with Iran in this conflict.
The US has deployed drones and helicopters to Iraq and is actively gathering intelligence on the advance by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Washington is also supplying Iraq’s existing air force with Hellfire missiles.
Joseph Dempsey, an analyst for the IISS’s Military Balance publication, has carefully studied the following video of the Sukhoi Su-25 aircraft released by the Iraqi authorities:
He reported on the IISS blog that he believes that some of the Sukhoi Su-25″Frogfoot ground attack jets operating in Iraq are indeed Iranian.
“Imagery analysis,” he says, “makes this the most logical conclusion. The markings, serial numbers and camouflage all fit with what we know of the Iranian fleet.”
The IISS says that the serial numbers on the aircraft seen in a video posted online by the Iraqi Ministry of Defence correspond with known serial numbers of aircraft in the Iranian fleet.
Mr Dempsey of the IISS also notes that “the camouflage scheme visible on the three aircraft is also identical to that currently applied to Iranian Su-25s; a scheme not adopted by any other operators.” He says there appear to have been attempts to conceal the original markings “with evidence of key positions being painted over. This includes the location of Iranian roundels on the side of the air intakes along with a large proportion of the tail fin normally occupied by a full serial number, the Iranian flag and the IRGC insignia.”
Iran maintains a small number of Su-25 aircraft, operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Ironically, the majority of these aircraft used to be part of the Iraqi Air Force – seven Su-25s sought refuge in Iran during the First Gulf War.
Contrary to Iraqi wishes, these aircraft were retained and later brought into Iranian service.
Of course it is much harder to determine who is actually flying the aircraft.
Mr Dempsey says that “while Iraq may retain some capability, having operated the aircraft in the past, any pilots would not have had any flying experience for at least 11 years.
“So it would strongly suggest that some level of external support is required,” he says.