Why Iran might prefer Chinese fighters than the Russian MiG-35?
BEIJING, (BM) – After the end of the arms embargo in October 2020, Iran will be able to acquire, among other things, fighters for its Air Force. It was previously believed that Tehran would most likely stop at Russian planes, but now China may be in the favorites.
Heavy fighters Su-30 and their derivatives, to which the Iranians used to pay close attention, have great speed, maneuverability and range. This would allow the Islamic Republic to project military power throughout the Middle East.
However, Iran can count on lighter and cheaper aircraft – the Russian MiG-35 and Chinese J-10C are considered the main contenders for this role. Both fighters belong to the 4 ++ generation and began to be operated in recent years.
At first glance, the comparison is in favor of the MiG-35. It is heavier, more maneuverable, with a more powerful radar (although both fighters have modern radars with AFAR) and is capable of operating at high speeds and altitudes.
The range of destruction of R-37M air-to-air missiles is 400 kilometers (the PL-15 missile of a Chinese aircraft has a range of no more than 300 kilometers). But the advantage of the Chinese aircraft is the limited use of stealth technologies.
In addition, the choice of the J-10C can be dictated by political reasons – earlier, Russia has repeatedly conceded to Western countries in matters of arms supplies to the Middle East.
At one time, the deal was frozen on the sale to the same Iran of a large batch of MiG-29 fighters in the 90s. Later, already under Dmitry Medvedev, Moscow refused to supply S-300 anti-aircraft systems to Tehran.
China is not so inclined to listen to advice from outside, so as a supplier of weapons, it is much more reliable. In addition, the Chinese are investing more in the development of air-to-air missiles – which means that in the future, the J-10C can afford more advanced weapons than the R-37M. Also, the simultaneous purchase of a light Chinese and a heavy Russian fighter gives Iran the opportunity to take advantage of both aircraft schools.
The situation in which Iran will buy heavy fighters from China and light MiG-35s from Russia is excluded: China does not sell heavy aircraft.
Finally, when trading with the Chinese, Iran has the opportunity to rely on barter, for example, to receive fighters in exchange for oil – while Russian-Iranian trade is much more modest in scale, and such transactions are hardly possible.
Finally, during the toughest sanctions against Tehran, it was Beijing that invested heavily in the Iranian economy, providing the country with support, which could also be a key factor.
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