To save the deal with Iran, Russia will develop a new Su-35
PANAGYURISHTE, BULGARIA — Russia faces a problem if it wants the deal with Iran to sell the Su-35 to go through. The Islamic Republic has not operated a combat aircraft equivalent to the Su-35. This means that the future Iranian aces of the Russian fighter will have to undergo serious training. Trainers on the ground will not be enough.
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The current configuration of the Russian single-seat fighter restricts the training process. Especially in a country that has not operated with Russian fighters of this class. New avionics, new radars, new engines, new weapons, and mission computers – everything is new for Iran. Most likely, the United Aircraft Corporation [UAC] will have to build a new version of its Su-35 – a two-seater.
Sukhoi years ago developed a similar version – Su-35UB. A prototype was made. But whether due to financial constraints or other reasons, production of the Su-35UB stopped. This means that this fighter has not even passed the traditional norms for meeting the requirements. Not to mention that the plane didn’t even make it to state tests, which are the last standards before a weapon enters service.
The two-seater version will break the design of the Russian Su-35. With few sacrifices and saving space and fuel tanks, the large airframe will be modified with a second pilot’s seat. This calls into question the durability of the fighter. However, experts say that it will not be violated.
To avoid additional development costs, Moscow may offer Tehran the acquisition of several units of two-seater Su-30s. Russia has developed such combat aircraft. But if this is good for Moscow, it is not good for Tehran. Besides making the whole deal more expensive, Tehran will have to deal with some logistical burdens and additional support. However, the similarities between the Su-30 and Su-35 are less than the differences.
The sale of the Su-35 is as beneficial to Russia as it is harmful. If Iran decides to order more Su-35 fighters in the future, this would minimize the cost of designing, developing, and manufacturing a two-seat trainer.
Russia will necessarily want to save the deal with Iran. Especially now that Moscow has to deal with a lack of orders. Keeping the production lines open means that Russia will be looking to increase the amount for Iran. We would not be surprised if in the coming months, the Islamic Republic accepts such an offer and increases its fleet of Su-35 fighters. It remains to be seen how Moscow will deal with this problem and whether it will decide to produce the “unwanted version” of the aircraft.
The Air Force’s fighter jet is made up of F-4D/E and F-14A fighters acquired sometime in the 1970s. With the fall of the arms embargo, Iran now has access to weapons, but mostly from China and Russia. Russia failed to complete the sale of 24 Su-35 fighter jets to Egypt. This leads to speculation in the media space, bringing to the fore the assumption that Iran will receive the Egyptian fighter jets.
Historically, the Iranian Air Force has used its F-4D/E and F-14A primarily in airborne early warning and control [AEW&C] roles. Acquiring the Su-35 could dramatically reduce the burden on Iranian pilots. But at the same time, Tehran may prefer two-seat fighters more than single-seat ones. This will most likely put Russia in a serious dilemma.
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