"If you see an F-14 Tomcat," says a friend who teaches a U.S. Navy flight intercept course, "it's enemy. Shoot it down."
That's because the sole remaining operator of the Northrup-Grumman built fighter jets (of Top Gun fame) is the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Iran received 79 Tomcats in the 1970s, back when the Shah was in power. Since the revolution, the Iranian Air Force has been forced to cannibalize that fleet to keep a smaller number of jets flying. In 2007, the House passed legislation that restricted all spare F-14 parts from being sold or distributed. Since then, there's been serious doubts as to whether Iran could fly even a small number of the once prized American fighter.
Now it seems that Iran has managed to get at least two Tommies flying. On Twitter this morning, Steven Trimble of The Dew Line flagged this recent YouTube video, which shows two F-14s with Iranian markings on a low level pass. Seeing that Iran routinely artificially inflates their military capabilities--mostly for domestic digestion--it's likely that this is yet another one of their silly shows of force (complete with likely non-functioning F-14s strewn out along their flight line). But it's a reminder that if America fighter pilots ever run into Maverick and Goose on an airborne intercept, they're likely speaking Persian.