Su-35 will chase the Mideast F-16s/F-35s or disrupt their refueling
SOFIA, BULGARIA — Iran is preparing to take delivery of its first modern fighter jets after the end of the arms embargo. The Russian Su-35 Flanker was preferred over the Su-30 Fulcrum. There have been such claims for several months on both sides. Whether it will or not remains to be seen.
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However, it is a fact that after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it was Iran that lent a hand to Russia. Delivery of Iranian Shahed kamikaze drones destroy Ukrainian energy infrastructure. A weapon that Moscow needed to change its failed ground tactics in the first half of the war, as well as to more quickly forget the total failure of its Orlan drones.
Warmed relations between the two countries opened doors for new talks of a military nature. Iran is said to be ready to open a factory for the production of Shahed drones in Russia. But this information should be classified as a rumor since Tehran denies it. Although, Russian sources claim that the land around the Russian city of Yelabuga on which to build the plant has been selected. That too remains to be seen in the foreseeable future.
S-400 in Iran
However, Israel is worried about another supply. Again classified as a rumor at the moment, Moscow is ready to negotiate with Tehran for the delivery of the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system. Back when the arms embargo fell years ago, BulgarianMilitary.com speculated that the S-400 would be one of the weapons systems requested by Tehran.
Iran already has Soviet air defense systems. These are S-300s. Nearly three years ago, the Russian ambassador in Tehran hinted that the S-400 could also become part of the anti-aircraft shield of the Iranian defense.
At the same time, Tehran does not stop producing its own air defense systems. The Bavar-373 is considered to be the Iranian version of the S-400. Unconfirmed information says that Russian engineers consulted the Iranians in the development of the Bavar-373. In fact, the Iranian system has a pretty good track record, at least if claims from local government sources are to be believed. According to them, Bavar-373 can detect targets at 450 km, and from 400 km start their tracking.
Why is the S-400 important to Iran?
In fact, it remains questionable whether the S-400 actually matters for Iran’s defense. Its acquisition will certainly increase the effectiveness of Iran’s air defenses.
Iran is seeking to protect its only valuable asset at the moment – its nuclear industry. Claims, mostly from Israeli and American sources, say that by the end of 2023, Tehran will have enough enriched uranium to make ten nuclear bombs.
Such claims are further strengthened after foreign observers recently found uranium enriched to 84 percent purity in Iran, just short of the 90 percent required for weapons.
Israel is worried
And here comes the role of the Russian Su-35s, which are said to be delivered to Iran. With the presence of quality air defense, Iran will be able to guarantee as much as possible the security of its nuclear program.
This means that from the moment of Tehran’s eventual acquisition of the S-400, the supposed Israeli flights of F-16s and F-35s to attack Iranian nuclear facilities will become too risky, too expensive and too infrequent in a very short window of time.
Plan to hit 3,000 sites
For Israel, the biggest threat is the Iranian nuclear program. To prevent the development of the nuclear program, Israel has prepared a plan with allies to form an Israeli coalition against Iran and strike. This information is a rumor that was first spread in the French media.
Israel’s plan includes a rapid response to Iranian actions in the coming years. It involves attacking at least 3,000 sites previously identified as targets by the Israeli command. Israel wants swift action until Iran receives the Russian Su-35s and possibly the S-400s. Tel Aviv has repeatedly said over the past few months that it will strike Iran’s nuclear program using its stealthy F-35 Adir.
The role of the Iranian Su-35
The Su-35 can not only defeat Israel’s plans, but also, if there is even an elaborate Israeli plan to strike at Iran’s nuclear program, make it meaningless.
The claims that two dozen Su-35s will be delivered to the Iranian Air Force means a severe restriction on the flights of Israeli aircraft. According to the Israeli publication The Jerusalem Post, the Su-35 and S-400 could be a disaster for Israeli intentions.
At some point, with a narrowing attack window, the Su-35 will not only pursue returning Israeli fighters, but also interfere with their mid-air refueling. While loading, the fighter is much more vulnerable and vulnerable. If the S-400’s radar picks it up, which is highly likely, it means that the Su-35 will most likely be able to attack the Israeli aircraft with an air-to-air missile beyond visual range.
Whether there will be a hit on the Israeli plane we cannot know, but certainly such a situation could deter Israeli intentions to proceed with the plan. The Su-35 can carry the air-to-air missile with the longest range – the Kh-37. This missile will be a nightmare not only for the F-16 but also for the F-35. With a range of 400 km and a flight speed of Mach 6, the attacking Israeli squadron is not only threatened with mission termination, but also with the loss of military equipment.
What is Iran thinking?
Certainly, if given the opportunity to acquire the S-400, Tehran will take advantage of it. As will be enjoyed by the Russian Su-35. But it seems that at the moment, Iran avoids officially commenting on the possible acquisition of the S-400.
In the statements of some military local experts, they even neglect the role of the Su-35. It is understandable if Tehran is trying to cover up precisely such tactics that we presented earlier. Patarames, an Iranian military expert, does not believe that the Su-35 and S-400 will be the reason for Israel to attack Iran. The expert sees things less thoroughly and less colorfully. According to him, it all comes down to intentions. Iran is on track to have a nuclear weapon, says expert. If Israel attacks, Iran will retaliate. It could lead to an exchange of nuclear missile strikes. That is why the S-400 and Su-35 are not a reason to attack Iran.
However, Patarames sees a much bigger role for the Su-35 than for the S-400. The expert is also of the opinion that the Su-35 will chase the returning Israeli fighters or prevent them from refueling. “The Israeli campaign will become too expensive,” says the expert.
The role of the US
The fact is that if Israel is to carry out its plan to attack Iran’s nuclear program, Washington will most likely have to make a decision on the matter. However, at the moment the signals from the US are not what Israel expects.
Perhaps because of the war in Ukraine, but Washington is in no rush to agree with Tel Aviv’s intentions. The US understands very well that supporting the Israeli plan will not just create a regional conflict, but a very dangerous regional conflict that could involve a much larger part of the Middle East than is assumed.
Last but not least, in addition to Ukraine, the eyes of the White House are also looking in the direction of China. Many experts already claim that a conflict is brewing precisely between China and Taiwan.
In Israel, calls for strikes on Iran are expected to grow louder and more frequent. Increasing cooperation between Russia and Iran is one of the reasons why this happened. But Israel does not seem to be in a hurry until it receives assurance or support from the US. Currently, such support is lacking. But this is now. What will the morning offer us – we will see.
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