Iran buys 24 Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E fighters produced for Egypt

TEHRAN ($1=42,300.00 Iranian Rials) — Iran has officially announced its intentions to purchase Russian fighter jets. Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force [IRIAF] commander Brigadier General Hamid Vahedi has officially announced that Iran will purchase 24 Su-35 fighter jets from Russia. This is what the Turkish online portal sammunasanayist.com writes in its Sunday edition.

Iran buys 24 Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E fighters produced for Egypt
Photo credit: UAC

According to Turkish sources, Iran is ready to buy the 24 Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E fighter jets that Egypt ordered from Russia, but Russia did not deliver. It is believed that after this purchase, Iran will make a second one for another 36 units of the Russian flagship. The Turkish publication sammunasanayist.com claims that after the purchase of the first 24 fighters, Tehran and Moscow may sit down at the negotiating table for the production of the 36 fighters in Iran.

The Turkish source claimed that 30 Iranian pilots are already in Russia and are expected to undergo training.

Why the Egyptian Su-35?

Egypt ordered 24 Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E fighter jets at the beginning of 2019, in March. The planes have already been produced but are still sitting in the Sukhoi hangars. There are two main versions why Egypt does not receive them.

One version is a technical malfunction that prevented Egypt from fulfilling the contract. This version is unlikely, since technical faults have always existed in every single production, and they are fixed, even if the delivery period is extended.

The second version is Egypt’s refusal to pay for the delivery of the 24 fighters. Such a refusal may have been dictated by Cairo’s fear of Washington not imposing severe economic sanctions under the CAATSA law.

Despite these claims, it is not yet known whether Egypt actually canceled the order. But the Turkish source claims that Iran wants to buy exactly these 24 Su-35 units.

The embargo

Iran has problems in terms of establishing air superiority. Currently, the IRIAF flies MiG-29A, MiG-21, F-14A, and F-5 purchased many years ago. Because of the UN embargo, Tehran could not access modern technologies in aerospace engineering for decades. It was forced with its own resources and a technological disadvantage to trying to modernize its combat aircraft.

Russia armed S-300 and S-400 with different missiles for better defense flexibility
Photo credit: BBC

In 2020, the UN embargo against Iran fell. Back then, BulgarianMilitary.com wrote that there are two areas of defense that Iran will try to strengthen – modern fighters and air defense systems.

Thus came January 2022, when an agreement was signed between Iran and Russia on defense and security cooperation. This agreement includes not only the modernization of the existing fighter jets of the IRIAF but also the purchase of two S-400 air defense batteries and 24 Su-35 fighters.

The deal is said to be worth close to $10 billion. Turkish sources claim that Tehran has already built a hangar for the modernization activities of the MiG-29 and Su-24 aircraft. According to some claims, Iran’s MiG-29A fighter jets are planned to be upgraded to the MiG-29SMT level.

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