Here's my contribution to this thread via an article concerning Project Ibex on Spyflight.co.uk written by none other than Tom Cooper.http://www.spyflight.co.uk/darkgene.htm
To help sum up the article (at least when it comes to the aircraft):
- Program was a joint Imperial Iranian military/CIA/NSA venture to monitor Soviet airspace and detect/track/identify Soviet ground-based radar systems. In other words, it was a ground/air based ELINT operation. The facilities/technology was also capable of providing missile tracking (also space launches, given Iran's relatively close distance to Baikonur Cosmodrome).
- Original plan involved 2 Boeing 707s and 2 of Iran's recently purchased P-3F Orions, with a fleet of DHC-4 Caribou as logistic/supply aircraft (thus lowering the overall "footprint" of the operation).
- Plans changed to 2 Boeing 707s and 4 C-130E/Hs (due to their ability to operate from rough airstrips).
- Later expansion of the program possibly included 2 Aero Commander 500s of the Imperial Iranian Army being fitted with some ELINT equipment. (unconfirmed however)
- Program was reported to be highly successful in terms of intelligence gathered.
- May have even included flights into Soviet airspace (though likely only "grazing" their airspace) and could guide IIAF fighters to possible intruder MiG-25RBs.
Now little is known of whether this program continued after the Revolution or not. Given the heavy involvement of US contractors, CIA and NSA, any useful equipment in the 5 ground stations involved in the program was likely sabotaged, but the aircraft are believed to have survived in some form or another.
In Mr. Cooper's article, he states the only known survivor of the program is a single Boeing 707, but I am quite certain he is wrong:
- I can confirm the continued existence of BOTH modified 707s, Serial #s 5-8316 & 5-8317.
- I can confirm the continued existence of at least one modified C-130, Serial # 5-8554.
The real question with these aircraft is whether any of the original ELINT equipment remains functional or if its been replaced with domestic or foreign components, or simply removed and converted back to transports. At this point, there is no evidence one way or another.
"I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell."
- Harry Truman