Iranian Warplanes Deployed to Iraq to Fight ISIS

Unclear Who Will Be Flying the Planes

In addition to the handful of Su-25 warplanes Iraq purchased over the weekend from Russia, several other warplanes are showing up on Iraqi airfields: apparently brought in by Iran.

The planes, shown in Iraqi Defense Ministry videos, have the serial numbers of Su-25 warplanes that are known to be Iranian operated, and some have visible Iranian flags on them.

The Iranian Su-25s, interestingly enough, were obtained from Iraq in the first place, when Iraqi Air Force planes defected to Iran during the First Gulf War. At the time, Iran impounded them and considered them reparations for the Iran-Iraq War.

Iraqi officials have raised the possibility of Iran, now a close ally, returning the planes during the current ISIS fighting, to give Iraq some actual Air Force planes to use. Whether Iran has given the planes to Iraq or is simply deploying them there directly remains unclear.

Even more unclear, and perhaps more interesting, is who is flying those planes. Though Iraq’s Air Force at one point had Su-25s in their fleet, they haven’t in at least 11 years, and it’s unclear if they have any pilots capable of flying them anymore. The speculation is that Iranian troops are flying the planes.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of