US sanctions move production of Russian attack helos to the Mideast

TEHRAN, IRAN — Predictably, the war in Ukraine will rearrange military cooperation around the world. Weak military ties will also be tightened. New axes are shaping up to emerge in a setting that draws more military conflicts. According to international political analysts, the war between Ukraine and Russia is the beginning of a series of regional wars. They also believe that a bigger war – one between Taiwan and China – could be on the way.

US sanctions move production of Russian attack helos to the Mideast - kamov ka-52
Photo credit: Special-Ops

The Russian impasse on February 24, 2022, was met by the West with a series of economic sanctions. They continue today, influencing the Russian economy. Russia’s military industry is large, but it is already forced to look for new partners. Sanctions rearrange political layers and awaken dormant partnerships.

Iran and Russia have become closer since a year ago. Amid a devastating war and a shift in Russian tactics, Tehran is supplying missiles and drones to Moscow. Iran was allowed to upgrade the inventory of its Air Force. The Russian flagship in air armament S-35 Flanker-E will dock with 24 units in the airports of the Islamic republic. It looks like this is just the beginning.

The meeting on January 23rd

The heads of the two legislative bodies in Russia and Iran met. On January 23, Mr. Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of the Russian DUMA was received in Tehran. His hosts were his colleague Mr. Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, and Mr. Ebrahim Raisi, President of the Republic of Iran.

According to the news agency Tasnim News, Iran and Russia have prepared the ground for strong military cooperation. The delivery of Su-35 fighters is just the starter. Moscow writes Tasnim News, is ready to produce its attack helicopters together with Iran. The Iranian media cited two models of helicopters – Mil Mi-28 and Kamov Ka-52 Alligator.

Iranian commanders, writes Tasnim News, are monitoring the performance of the two helicopters in the war with Ukraine. “The Mil-28 and Kamov-52 helicopters are suitable options for the land and sea forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” said an editorial in the Iranian news agency.

Why is Russia looking for co-production?

We should note that at the moment only signals of joint production of Russian attack helicopters come from Iran. I.e. this is still a speculative opinion.

US sanctions move production of Russian attack helos to the Mideast - mil mi-28
Photo credit: The Modelling News

However, Russia is beginning to feel the effects of Western sanctions. First, they influenced tank production. Russia is upgrading its tanks and sending them to Ukraine, but not with new technology. Cannibalizing old tanks is used to repair and maintain damaged tanks. And the new ones that are produced are equipped with technologies that are more than 30 years old.

Helicopters are one of the most lost weapons in Ukraine. The situation with their maintenance and repair is analogous to that of tanks. Western sanctions prevent Russia’s arms industry from accessing chips, integrated circuits, and semiconductors. More components use to improve the lethality of the weapons used by the helicopters. Logically, Moscow is looking for an alternative. Logically, Iran remained one of Russia’s few friends and suppliers of similar technologies. How good they are is another question.

Why does Iran need helicopters?

Iran has been subject to a strict and powerful arms embargo, which already fell 24 months ago. But Iran has not had access to new weapons systems in the past decade. The industry was forced to fend for itself by developing alternatives. Very often, Tehran relied on Russia to deliver captured technology to Syria to be copied by Iranian engineers. The same is happening today as there are reports that Russia is sending captured Western weapons to Iran for research.

The Shahed 285 and Shahed 218 domestic helicopter production projects are not going ahead. According to Tansim News, they do not meet Iranian requirements. This is the official version. The unofficial story is that without outside intervention, Tehran cannot produce its own planes.

US sanctions move production of Russian attack helos to the Mideast - iranian AH1-J Cobra
Photo credit: Ahmad Mahgoli

At the same time, the modernization of the AH1-J Cobra helicopters is also not happening. This modernization is generally difficult. Iran acquired them from the US before the Iranian revolution. The US stopped producing them three years ago. Spare parts are no longer produced, either. The AH1-J Cobra is Iran’s only combat helicopter.

Why Russia and not China?

We must admit that Iran is in a favorable position. With the fall of the arms embargo, doors were opened for arms supplies. Iran cannot buy from the west, so the east is more acceptable. In this region, Iran can afford to choose Russia or China as an arms supplier.

Iran turned to Russia. We asked a local military expert why Tehran would take such action. China is also a very good option for Iran. According to our expert, if it wasn’t for the war in Ukraine, Iran would have been close to buying weapons from China.

Getting Russia into a war means that Moscow will need the finances, weapons, and components to support those weapons. “Tehran acted very wisely because it opened an opportunity not only to buy from Russia but to negotiate technology exchange. Moscow needs missiles, bombs, ammunition, and drones. Therefore, it is more inclined to negotiate for joint cooperation,” was the comment. to our consultant. “Geopolitically, the war with Ukraine forced Russia to withdraw some of its equipment and troops from Syria. This opened a vacuum, which is currently being filled by Iran. This is the beginning of cooperation in the next decade,” our expert added.

What will Iran get?

Mi-28 and Ka-52 helicopters are good choices for Tehran. Not because they are the best in their class, but because they are the best technologies available to Iran.

US sanctions move production of Russian attack helos to the Mideast
Photo credit: YouTube

Both helicopters are powered by two 2,500-horsepower turboshaft engines. 30mm guns are perfectly suited for assault attacks against ground targets. These helicopters are suitable for supporting ground forces. Under their wings, they can carry 80 and 122-mm rockets and anti-tank guided missiles.

Mi-28 and Ka-52 use thermal-guided missiles for air defense. Helicopter upgrades are possible if external fuel tanks are integrated. This will undoubtedly increase their reach. Night vision systems are at a good level. Communication systems are also modern. Both helicopters can carry and launch UAVs.


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