Cosmodrome: Senatorial Required Reading?

This just in: undisputed evidence that Cosmodrome's readership includes U.S. Senators!

Way back in the spring of '06, our hard-working military aviation staff looked up from its RSS feed for a moment to tell you about a very special day in the life of a storied U.S. Navy fighter: it was retirement time for the venerable F-14 Tomcat.

As the 'Drome was quick to point out, this left Iran as the sole remaining operator of the F-14. Back then, Iran's continuing operation of an aging, primarily air-to-air fighter was, well, sort of cute. Images of dusty old mechanics wiping down a handful of airworthy Tomcats with oily rags, that kind of thing.

You don't need Cosmodrome to tell you that a lot has changed since the spring of '06. (Read more...)

Not even a year later, the prospect of Iran having a few F-14s in their garage is now grounds to introduce a bill (read it here) banning the sale of any spare Tomcat parts forever. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon did just that, submitting the "Stop Arming Iraq Act" last week. Wyden credits his constituents for bringing the issue to his attention, but we here at Cosmodrome HQ (with our geo-targetted traffic report) know the real story.

Now let's keep one thing in mind--the Pentagon wasn't just wildly auctioning off valuable F-14 radars, missiles, etc. to the highest bidder. A thorough vetting process has always been in place for surplus sales parts, separating "nuts and bolts" parts from proprietary components unique to the F-14 or critical to some of its more advanced features. An investigation by the Associated Press, however, found the security surrounding the vetting and sale process to be generally lax, with the occasional critical component slipping through and being sold along with nuts and bolts parts.

I can't really see anyone anywhere having much of a problem about this bill, especially with the massive mainstream media hype/hysteria it's currently getting. (front page of, on the screen of some dude's Blackberry on the subway ride home, etc). But what doesn't really mention is that it's likely Iran's Tomcat fleet, even with its adapted Russian tech, will need a lot more than the occasional illicitly-purchased radar to pose much of a threat to anyone.

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