Iran To Finalize An Order of Russian Fighter Jets

Iran has finalized a deal to purchase Russian-made Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets, marking a significant step in the deepening of defense cooperation between the two nations. The announcement was made by Iran's deputy defense minister and reported by Iran's Tasnim news agency. Iran's air force, which currently comprises a few dozen strike aircraft, including Russian jets and aging U.S. models acquired before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, has been seeking to modernize its fleet. The country has faced challenges in acquiring spare parts to maintain its warplanes, largely due to sanctions.


The new deal will see the delivery of Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets, Mil Mi-28 attack helicopters, and Yak-130 jet trainers to Iran. The Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets were deemed technically acceptable for Iran. The delivery of the new jets is expected to commence in the middle of 2023. This development comes in the wake of the expiration of restrictions on Iran purchasing conventional weapons under UN Resolution 2231 in October 2020. The lifting of these restrictions has allowed Iran to approach countries to buy fighter jets to replenish its fleet, which was severely impacted during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.


The deal has raised concerns among some international observers. The United States, for instance, has expressed alarm over the growing military cooperation between Iran and Russia. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby warned in December that Russia looked likely to sell Iran its fighter jets. Kirby maintained that Iranian pilots had reportedly been learning to fly the Sukhoi warplanes in Russia and that Tehran may receive the aircraft within the next year, which would "significantly strengthen Iran's air force relative to its regional neighbors".

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Despite these concerns, Iran remains optimistic about the deal. The country believes that the new aircraft will significantly bolster its air force, which currently consists mostly of Russian MiG and Sukhoi fighter jets dating back to the Soviet era, some Chinese aircraft, including the F-7, and some American F-4 and F-5 fighter jets dating back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In conclusion, the deal represents a significant milestone in Iran's efforts to modernize its air force and deepen its defense ties with Russia. However, it also underscores the geopolitical complexities and potential security implications of such military cooperation.

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