Readying To Welcome Su-35 Fighters, Iran Unveils Underground Air Force Base ‘Eagle 44’ To House UAVs, Warplanes

The Iranian Air Force unveiled an underground tactical military base named ‘Eagle 44’ amid rising military threats from its adversaries that became more evident after the recent drone strikes.

On February 7, Iran unveiled “Eagle 44,” a first-of-its-kind underground air force installation big enough to accommodate fighter jets, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported.

The airbase was visited by the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, and Iran’s Army Commander, Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi.

The tactical airbase has been designed to accommodate and prepare various aircraft for missions, including fighter jets, bombers, and unmanned aerial vehicles. The location of the base was not covered in detail in the report.

The broadcast report especially highlighted that the base is buried in the mountains to shield it from ordnance dropped by US strategic bombers that can breach defences.

This Iranian underground complex includes an alert area, command post, warplane hangars, repair and maintenance center, navigation and airport equipment, and fuel tanks. Moreover, the media report stated that the sizable underground airbase could also receive and prepare for missions for the Air Force’s new fighter jets.

This revelation may be noteworthy as Iran is slated to receive two dozen Su-35 fighter jets from its ally Russia in the coming months.

This will mark the biggest modernization for Iran’s Air Force in decades as the service still operates a fleet of archaic F-4 Phantom II, F-14 Tomcat, and F-5E/F Tiger II planes from the Cold War era besides a few MiG -29 aircraft.

Earlier, the IRNA news agency had said that the Russia-made fighter jets would be housed at Tactical Air Base (TAB) 8 of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF).

The base is situated in the city of Isfahan. However, with the new announcement, it may be worth wondering if Iran would station some of these fighters in this new underground facility with enhanced security.

Sukhoi Su-35 Fighter jet Russia Ukraine
Sukhoi Su-35 Fighter jet

Oghab-44 is one of the several Air Force tactical underground bases built recently throughout Iran, considering the operational needs of the Air Force units and civil defense needs.

These bases, built by requirements and with a high level of safety, are situated beneath mountainous regions so that they can be used for surprise aerial operations in places where the opponents would not expect them, said the Iranian report.

The Iranian military also unveiled a long-range airborne missile ‘Asif’ on the sidelines of the inauguration of the underground air base. The missile will reportedly be installed on Su-24 fighters.

The underground facilities house the fighter aircraft in secure areas and outfit them with electronic warfare equipment, a variety of bombs, and missiles, which enable aerial standoff operations and increase the strategic range of attacks against distant targets.

Iran Is Ramping Up Security With Underground Bases

The Iranian Air Force had already revealed an underground drone base known as “Drone Base 313” in the summer of 2022. Iranian state television (IRIB) said at the time that this secret military base is concealed somewhere in the Zagros mountain range, which runs along the nation’s Persian Gulf coast.

File Image: Iran’s Underground Base

“More than 100 combat, reconnaissance, and attack drones belonging to the army are kept for operations in this base located in the heart of the Zagros mountains,” the report said.

At Drone Base 313 , two new weapons were also unveiled. The first of these weapons was the Heidar-1 cruise missile, carried by the drones Keman-22 and Fotros. This underground facility was reportedly built to house the large Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) fleet.

Strategic Drone Base 313 (via Twitter)

Recent developments show that the Air Force has elaborate plans to build underground bases around Iran. This becomes even more significant as Iran runs a high risk of being struck by enemies in the region, evidenced by the recent drone strike that hit a military factory in the central city of Isfahan.

“Any attack on Iran from our enemies, including Israel, will see a response from our many air force bases, including Eagle 44,” Iran’s armed forces Chief of Staff Mohammad Bagheri told state TV.

After an anti-aircraft fire hit the drones, an explosion was captured on camera, probably the result of one of the drones landing on the roof of the building. The Iranian military asserts that it shot down two more drones before they arrived at the target area.

Iran has taken an extreme exception to the incident, accusing Israel of conducting the drone strike and pledging revenge. It is pertinent to note that even though Tel Aviv has not claimed the drone strike on Isfahan, its politicians, lawmakers, and military officials have warned that the Israel Air Force could bomb Iranian military facilities. Some reports suggest that the country has worked out the details of potential attacks.

The unveiling of this new Iranian underground air base comes just days after the US and Israel conducted their largest-ever joint exercise with the participation of thousands of troops, dozens of aircraft, naval ships, and artillery systems. The exercise was widely interpreted as a message to Iran amid escalating tensions.

As the threat continues to mount from the West and regional adversaries, Iran is expected to build more such military facilities underground.