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On Iranian Access To F-14 Parts

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the U.S. sold parts for jets used by Iran.

The Pentagon sold more than 1,000 aircraft parts that could be used on F-14 fighter jets — a plane flown only by Iran — after announcing it had halted sales of such surplus, government investigators said.

The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said the Defense Department had improved security in its surplus program to prevent improper sales of sensitive items.

But investigators found that about 1,400 parts that could be used on F-14 "Tomcat" fighter jets were sold to the public in February. That came after the Pentagon announced it had suspended sales of all parts that could be used on the Tomcat while it reviewed security concerns. It was not known whether any parts were sold to Iran.

Before anyone comes unglued by this incomplete initial report, please note that there is a significant difference between selling parts than can be used in F-14's only flown by Iran and selling parts that are only used by F-14's, which are only flown by Iran.

There are millions of parts in the nomenclature / parts lists for jet aircraft. This includes parts that are used by other jets flown by the US and allies all over the world. Until it is known which parts were sold - which could presumably include nuts and washers - hold angry reactions in check.

This is not to say that it is impossible or even unlikely that critical parts did not make it to scrap or surplus markets. However, even if some critical parts slipped through, rest assured that (A) it will be swiftly addressed, and (B) it is not nearly enough to keep or get an ill-maintained Iranian F-14 fleet in the air.

The GAO is doing its job. Catching oversights like this are its reason for being.