Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

Dust storms and the 1980 Iran hostage rescue attempt

Joseph P. Henderson
Dust storms and the 1980 Iran hostage rescue attempt (in Military geosciences in the twenty-first century, Russell S. Harmon (editor), Sophie E. Baker (editor) and Eric V. McDonald (editor))
Reviews in Engineering Geology (August 2014) 22: 49-55


Dust storms, or haboobs, can have a significant effect on military operations in arid regions. Not only does dust cause maintenance problems and slow offensive ground operations, but it can also substantially disrupt air operations. This paper presents a historic vignette of how a dust storm contributed to the failure of Operation Eagle Claw, the mission undertaken to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran in 1980. The flight crews that were involved in that mission encountered a dust storm that was likely generated by thunderstorm activity in the Zagros Mountains of Iran. Weather forecasters were aware that dust storms were a possibility in the region, but they did not forecast haboobs. The pilots were expecting clear weather and had no contingency plans to cope with the adverse weather conditions. The dust storm caused confusion, slowed the helicopters, and greatly increased pilot fatigue. These factors appeared to have contributed to mission failure, and, as a result, the U.S. military later implemented many improvements in mission planning, pilot training, and weather forecasting techniques to manage the risk associated with operations in areas where dust storms are likely.

ISSN: 0080-2018
EISSN: 2169-799X
Coden: GAEGA4
Serial Title: Reviews in Engineering Geology
Serial Volume: 22
Title: Dust storms and the 1980 Iran hostage rescue attempt
Title: Military geosciences in the twenty-first century
Author(s): Henderson, Joseph P.
Author(s): Harmon, Russell S.editor
Author(s): Baker, Sophie E.editor
Author(s): McDonald, Eric V.editor
Affiliation: U. S. Military Academy, Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, West Point, NY, United States
Affiliation: U. S. Army Corps of Engineers-Engineer Research and Development Center, Ruislip, United Kingdom
Pages: 49-55
Published: 201408
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 31
Accession Number: 2014-085152
Categories: Environmental geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sketch map
N25°00'00" - N39°30'00", E44°00'00" - E63°19'60"
Secondary Affiliation: Desert Research Institute, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201444
Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal