Iran expects delivery of the first Su-35 batch sometime next week

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Iran is anticipating the arrival of the first batch of Russian Su-35 Flanker fighter jets, slated for delivery next week. This information has been reported by several Iranian media outlets, including the state-run Student News Network [SNN], and Khabar Online. As BulgarianMilitary.com notes, Iran is set to acquire 24 Su-35 Flanker fighters in total. 

Photo credit: Dzen

The reports emanating from Iranian media, however, might leave the objective reader somewhat confused. The headlines announce the imminent delivery of the first batch of fighter jets. Yet, the main content of the reports is focused on a story from last week’s Al-Jarideh, a Kuwaiti newspaper. According to this report, although the fighter jets are already on Iranian soil, they are yet to be launched due to the absence of “necessary parts” from Russia. 

Khabar Online cites that, due to objections from Israel and nations in the Southern Persian Gulf, Russia has hitherto refrained from providing Iran with crucial components of the Su-35. This situation has limited Iran’s use of these fighter jets strictly to training exercises and short-range tasks. Nevertheless, Putin has hinted at a change in this stance, indicating Russia’s potential readiness to supply these components, as inferred by the report from Khabar Online.

Photo credit: Dzen

While the credibility of the two reports on Khabar Online and Al-Jarideh remains uncertain, there is currently no photographic evidence to suggest that the Su-35s ever arrived in Iran. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls two incidents from the last two years where the Su-35 supposedly “landed” in Iran. 

The first instance was in February 2023. A satellite photo from that period revealed a life-size mock-up of the Su-35 at Eagle Air Force Base 44. This base is known to be underground, filled with numerous corridors and underground runways. Even at that time, several experts theorized that the Iranians were likely checking whether the dimensions of the Su-35 were compatible with the capabilities of their underground runways to avoid any constructional mismatches. 

The second instance was much more recent, occurring at the end of January this year. A photo surfaced on social media featuring two Su-35s at night, with unclear markings. The accompanying claims suggested that these were the first two Su-35s to either land in Iran or take off from Russia for Iran. However, it was later discovered that the same photo can be found in the archives of the Russian Air Force from March 2021. The photo actually depicts the preparation of the two fighters for training night flights.

Photo credit: Telegram

In April 2023, various Turkish media channels published information based on “their Iranian sources” stating that “within weeks” the first Su-35s would arrive in Iran. This news has, however, not been officially confirmed by Tehran or Moscow, and there is no photographic evidence to support it. For now, this information remains unverified, although it could potentially refer to Al-Jarideh newspaper’s report stating that Su-35s are indeed in Iran but are “waiting for the necessary parts”

On the 10th of March, 2023, Iran officially announced that a deal to obtain 24 Su-35 fighter jets from the Russian corporation, United Aviation Corporation, the parent company of the Sukhoi manufacturer, had been finalized. The announcement was brought forth by the official Iranian representation at the UN, as well as by the Iranian Mehr media

However, to this day, the specifics of the deal remain undisclosed. Neither Russia nor Iran has officially released any details. Western media and analysts posit that the delivery of Su-35s to Iran is part of a deal involving the supply of drones, missiles, and ammunition from Tehran to the Russian military to perpetuate the war in Ukraine. Nonetheless, regarding Iranian missiles, Ukrainian top intelligence officer Kyrylo Budanov disclosed nearly a month ago that Ukraine has no evidence implying that Russia is employing Iranian missiles against Ukrainian targets.

Photo credit: Twitter

The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force [IRIAF] is set to significantly increase its combat capability with the acquisition of the Su-35. Presently, Tehran operates 24 Russian MiG-29 fighter jets and 23 Su-27 attack fighters. These aircraft constitute the backbone of Iran’s combat aviation. Adding to this formidable line-up are 35 American Northrop F-5 units, 63 F-4 Phantom II bombers, and light aircraft such as the HESA Saeqeh, HESA Kowsar, and HESA Azarakhsh. However, the exact number of these fighters and fighter jets that are combat-ready remains an unknown variable in the equation. 

The Su-35, also known as the Sukhoi Su-35, is a highly advanced, multi-role fighter jet developed by Russia’s Sukhoi Aviation Corporation. It’s a notably upgraded derivative of the Su-27 ‘Flanker,’, and is classified as a 4++ generation aircraft. 

The Su-35 brims with imposing dimensions: it measures 21.9 meters in length, has a wingspan of 15.3 meters, and stands 5.9 meters tall. With a maximum takeoff weight of 34,500 kilograms, this aircraft is a large and formidable presence in the skies.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

From the perspective of technical characteristics, the Su-35 boasts a maximum speed of Mach 2.25, or 2,390 kilometers per hour at altitude. It has a service ceiling of 18,000 meters and a rate of climb of 280 meters per second. The aircraft’s design combines high maneuverability and supercruise capability. 

The avionics of the Su-35 represent the state of the art, featuring the Irbis-E passive electronically scanned array radar system, which has a detection range of up to 400 kilometers for aerial targets. It is also equipped with an OLS-35 optoelectronic targeting system and a suite of advanced electronic warfare systems. 

The Su-35 is fitted with a versatile array of weapons. It has 12 hardpoints, permitting a mix of air-to-air, air-to-surface, and anti-ship missiles, as well as unguided rockets and bombs. For close combat, it features a 30mm GSh-30-1 autocannon.

Photo credit: UAC

The propulsion system of the Su-35 consists of two Saturn AL-41F1S afterburning turbofan engines, each generating a maximum thrust of 142 kN. These engines allow the aircraft to perform advanced maneuvers and maintain high speeds. 

The operational range of the Su-35 is impressive, with a combat radius of 1,600 kilometers on internal fuel. With external fuel tanks, the aircraft can achieve a ferry range of up to 4,500 kilometers, allowing for long-distance missions without the need for mid-air refueling.

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