Mi-8 and Su-35 purchase agreements have been finalized – Iran

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Final agreements for the acquisition of Su-35 fighter jets and Mi-28 helicopters by Iran have been confirmed by the country’s Deputy Defense Minister, as reported by various sources. 

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Speaking to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency, Deputy Defense Minister Mehdi Ferhi announced that an agreement had been reached regarding the delivery of combat aircraft and helicopters to be purchased from Russia.

“The arrival of Yak-130 training aircraft, Sukhoi-35 fighter jets and Mi-28 attack helicopters in the country has been confirmed and the process is ongoing,” said Ferhi.

Photo credit: Twitter

On the other hand, it remains unclear what kind of payment Iran made to Russia for the supplies in question. Iran, which supplies Russia with Shahid-136 Loitering munitions, is believed to have been trading in a “barter” format.

Outgoing saga

This development adds a fresh spin to the ongoing saga of Iran obtaining the Su-35. Earlier this year, there were certain complications when Mohammad-Reza Gharaei Ashtiani, upon inquisition about the deal [assumed to be finalized the previous year], indicated a change in plans. His statement hinted at Iran’s capabilities to produce such advanced fighter jets on their own. 

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Previously, Iranian officials had made several declarations about impending deals with Russia for the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets. However, none of these announcements have culminated in concrete results so far. 

While Ashtiani refrained from divulging explicit details, he did confirm, “At one point, we agreed to a purchase, but then realized our capacity to construct these [fighter jets] domestically.” He didn’t discount the possibility of revisiting the procurement, mentioning the authorities were “sizing up the situation” and open to reconsidering if needed. 

About the procurement of Mi-8 helicopters, however, Iran has kept mum about the size of the deal and the number agreed upon with Russia.

Yak-130

As reported in September, Russia supplied Iran with an undisclosed quantity of Yakovlev Yak-130 ‘Mitten’, its advanced jet trainer, and light attack aircraft. Witnessed in flight at Isfahan International Airport’s 8th Tactical Air Base, the aircraft wore the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force [IRIAF] markings, complete with the nationally registered serial number 7-9701. 

Iran’s Fars News Agency shared that enhancing the training and combat abilities of IRIAF was the primary goal of acquiring these Russian aircraft. However, the specifics regarding the final count, delivery dates, operational units, roles, or basing remained undisclosed. 

Photo credit: Pan.bg

The aircraft–Yak-130–compares in looks to the Leonardo M-346 Master [both sharing common developmental objectives] along with the HAIG L-15 Lieying. It’s an advanced, twin-seat, twin-engine jet trainer aircraft that has an additional light attack capability. The reportedly seen IRIAF model comes equipped with underwing and wingtip pylons, hinting at its readiness for its secondary role, and nine hardpoints to attach rocket pods, air-to-surface missiles, machine guns/cannons, and guided or unguided bombs. 

Delineating the aircraft’s specs, it includes a maximum take-off weight of 3,000 kg, top speed reaching 572 kt, travel range of up to 1,600 km, service ceiling at 41,020 ft, and an endurance period of three hours. This includes the addition of two drop tanks and an optional removable in-flight refueling probe.

Egyptian Su-35 for Iran

The Egyptian government has reportedly placed an order for 24 Sukhoi Su-35S fighter jets from Russia to enhance the capabilities of the Egyptian Air Force [EAF]. Yet, there has been a significant delay in the delivery of these jets from the Russian Federation to Egypt. 

Photo credit: Twitter

Speculations suggest that the non-delivery might be attributed to political reasons, with Egypt highlighting technical issues as the primary reason. Interestingly, Iran has emerged as the purchaser of the Su-35s that were initially destined for Egypt. Iran, keen on procuring the Su-35S jets initially ordered by Egypt, has successfully completed the necessary formalities with the Russian Federation.

Su-35 in Eagle 44 underground base

Experts surmise that the acquisition of new aircraft will be a game changer for Iran’s Air Force. Currently beleaguered by a lack of modern equipment and spare parts due to imposed sanctions, this move is set to fortify their capabilities significantly. 

Photo credit: UAC

Insight from analysts suggests that the procurement of Su-35 by Iran could alter Israel’s approach toward countering Iran’s nuclear program. Israel perceives Iran’s nuclear program as a significant threat to its security. Notably, recent revelations indicate that Iran has already enriched uranium sufficient for devising its first nuclear bomb. 

The Su-35 has the potential to impose limitations on Israel’s engagement over Iran, this includes Syria, where Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad permits militias supported by Tehran to establish bases and weapons depositories. Middle Eastern analysts opine that these Iranian Su-35s can potentially trail and disrupt the refueling of Israeli F-35s in mid-air. This implies a heightened risk factor for both Tel Aviv and the Air Force. 

Unverified sources suggest that Iran is already on its way to preparing a permanent station for the Su-35. It’s worthy to mention that a months ago, satellite images of Iran’s Eagle 44 base were published on BulgarianMilitary.com. An inspected full-scale model of the Su-35, spotted at the entrance of the base, indicates that the Iranians have been testing the underground depots and runways on the base to check if they are conducive for the Russian fighters.

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