After India, Iran could be the next foreign producer of Su-30

Since it is clear that Iran expects the delivery of the Russian Su-35 Flanker-E, there is already talk of joint production in the field of combat aviation. According to the Iran Observer, Iran is preparing to jointly produce another Flanker, the Su-30. Iran Observer claims that Tehran is waiting for a license from Russia to produce the Su-30. Also in the message it is claimed that Iran will build a production facility for the destruction of Russian Su-30s.

10+ Russian Su-30s began tactical rehearsals over Kaliningrad - Su-30SM2
Photo credit: Soldar

The reliability of the information cannot be confirmed at this time. But this is not the first time that there has been talk of joint Russian-Iranian production of the Su-30 Flanker-C. In 2016, the Iranian news agency Fars News quoted Iran’s Defense Minister, General Hossein Dehkan. Then, in a TV interview, the minister said Iran would produce an “undisclosed number” of Su-30 fighter jets. He announced the news by claiming that Russia and Iran will sign a treaty [agreement] on this cooperation.

Russian news agency Sputnik News also supported Fars News’ claims, saying that it is possible that on February 16, 2016, Russia and Iran will sign the aforementioned treaty. However, this did not happen, and the news remained “maturing” until today.

The Su-30 has been in Iran’s sights for many years. When the UN arms embargo on Iran was lifted, in addition to the S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft systems, there was renewed talk of the Su-30 in Iran. Tehran was on the verge of acquiring the Flanker-C, but the failed deal between Russia and Egypt to sell the Su-35, and the war in Ukraine, which involved Tehran in the supply of missiles and drones, tipped the scales in favor of the Su-35 Flanker-E.

After India, Iran could be the next foreign producer of Su-30 - F-14A Tomcat Iran

From Russia’s perspective, the “alleged” joint production of the Su-30 is good news. Moscow lost many of its former arms trading partners after it invaded Ukraine last February. India, Egypt, Algeria, and Indonesia are rejecting orders, the United Arab Emirates is pulling out of the Su-75 Checkmate stealth fighter project, and countries with limited budgets such as Vietnam, Venezuela, and Argentina are reluctant to ask for Russian weapons because of alleged US economic sanctions under the CAATSA Act.

At the same time, Iran, rediscovering good Russian cooperation, is in the process of modernizing its combat capabilities. This necessarily concerns two areas – air defense and the air force. The state-run Islamic Republic New Agency [IRNA] writes precisely about such modernization. The campaign quoted IRIAF Brigadier General Hamid Vahedi as saying that Iran’s new capabilities would be “in the area of manned and unmanned aircraft”. But General Vahedi mentions nothing about the Su-30.

IRNA recalls the unfortunate story of the Iranian Air Force, which was deprived of quality equipment due to the arms embargo on the country. The F-14A Tomcat is the latest modern fighter jet received by Iran. For its time in the 1970s, it was just that. Today, however, it cannot meet the requirements of modern warfare.

Khayal Muazzin, an Iranian journalist, has also suggested that Iran may focus its efforts on the production of the Su-30. According to the journalist, the renewed cooperation between Iran and Russia brings with it exactly this expectation – an Iranian-made Su-30. It seems that Tehran, or at least the opinion of a part of the public in Iran related to the military capability of the country, assumes that a quality Iranian Air Force means not only the purchase of Russian fighters but also their local production.

10+ Russian Su-30s began tactical rehearsals over Kaliningrad - Su-30
Photo credit: Irkut Press Office

Is there a basis for such a proceeding? Of course, especially when this aircraft is already being produced outside of Russia. Iran would rely heavily on the Russian experience gained during the long-standing Russian-Indian production of the Su-30. Iran may take a shorter route than India as it will now avoid mistakes made in the beginning.

An Iranian Su-30 would be a very big step towards improving the capability of the Iranian Air Force. It is not just about the production of the planes. Such production would likely expand Iran’s capabilities in developing advanced components, radars, avionics, and more.

Even following India’s long path, Iran may seek Russia’s assistance in developing an indigenous air-to-air missile. Its integration into Iran’s Su-30 will be hailed as a success.

From a geopolitical perspective, a plant in Iran for the production of the Su-30 will change regional politics. Israel is already worried about Iran’s Su-35s because Tel Aviv’s operations against Iran-backed groups may change, albeit with a negative sign.

Egyptian Su-35 Flanker-E fighters are going to Iran in March
Photo credit: Wikipedia

China and Russia have already announced, “the beginning of a new world order not seen for 100 years”. These words were spoken by President Xi Jinping when saying goodbye to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The engagement of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in renewing relations with Iran is doing quite a bit of damage to American influence in the Middle East.

So, possible Iranian production of the Su-30 with subsequent military developments will continue to undermine American influence in the region. A goal that not only China but also Russia has set.


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