FILE PHOTO: Russian Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters perform a flight during the Aviadarts competition, as part of the International Army Games 2021, at the Dubrovichi range outside Ryazan, Russia August 27, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

By Kayhan Life Staff

Iranian government plans to purchase Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters from Russia appear to have fallen through, according to recent comments by Iran’s Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), Brigadier-General Mohammad Reza Gharaei Ashtiani.

In an interview with the Tehran-based Student News Network (SNN) on July 20, General Ashtiani said: “We have certain capabilities, so we do not feel the need to buy equipment. Other countries may want to purchase from us.”

“We have made great progress in science and technology of aircraft manufacturing and production,” Ashtiani said. “We are among the top countries in this field.”

“If we feel the need [to buy Sukhoi Su-35], then we may pursue this,” Ashtiani explained. “We may decide to buy [Sukhoi Su-35] at one point, but then decide to produce them domestically. We are currently assessing the situation.”

“What happened to the delivery of the Sukhoi Su-35?” Kayhan London tweeted on May 29.

If confirmed, this could be a cause of frustration for Ali Khamenei, the commander-in-chief of the Islamic Republic armed forces, who had hoped Iran’s “strategic partner,” Russia, would help to bolster the country’s military capability, given Tehran’s unequivocal support for Moscow’s war in Ukraine.


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Military analysts believe that Russia is not in a position to give military help to Iran or any other country, given that it needs all of its weapons for the war in Ukraine. Also, Russia could be concerned with supplying Iran with Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets, given the geopolitical significance of Iran and its regional ambitions and activities. In addition, there are reports that the Russian aircraft manufacturer JSC Sukhoi Company has not fulfilled its contract with the Russian military.

In December 2022, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that Iranian pilots received training on the Sukhoi Su-35, adding that Iran could begin taking delivery of the fighters in 2023.

“These fighter planes will significantly strengthen Iran’s air force relative to its regional neighbors,” John Kirby noted.

Two months later, Iranian media published aerial photographs of “Oghab-44”, a newly built airbase of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF), showing two Sukhoi Su-35 parked near a hangar.

Military experts believed the photograph proved Iran was preparing to receive the fighter jets.

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A few weeks later, in an interview with the Russian state-owned Sputnik news agency, the Islamic Republic delegate to the United Nations confirmed Iran had signed the Su-35 deal with Moscow but gave no detail, citing the “top secret nature” of the military hardware purchase.

During the same period, the Israeli media reported, citing Western intelligence, that Russia planned to deliver 24 Sukhoi Su-35 to Iran. Russia initially wanted to sell the jets to Egypt, but the U.S. allegedly prevented the deal.

In comments reported by the Tehran-based Young Journalists Club (YJC) news agency on June 2, the commander of the Islamic Republic Army Air Force (NAHAJA), Brigadier-General Hamid Vahedi, admitted he did not know the specifics of the delivery of Sukhoi Su-35 to Iran.

“The air force conducts missions, and we need to update its capabilities all the time,” General Vahedi said: “The planes in question are the fourth generation, and we are awaiting a decision from senior officials. It is on our agenda, but we do not know the details.”

“We do not know when these fighter jets will join our squadrons, but we are ready to use them as soon as they are purchased,” Vahedi added.

Domestic media hailed the purchase of Sukhoi Su-35 as a significant step to boost Iranian air power “which could pose a challenge to the Western air superiority in the region.”

“The acquisition of Sukhoi Su-35 will undoubtedly make Iranian airspace a more dangerous zone for fighter jets,” the semi-official Fars news agency said on Jan. 11, quoting the U.S.-based Hudson Institute.

“The West and the Zionist regime are worried that they may lose air superiority in the region with the addition of Sukhoi Su-35 to the Iranian air force,” the Tehran-based Mashregh newspaper said on Feb. 17.

While Russian media speculated Iran would pay for the Sukhoi Su-35 by selling its oil to Moscow, observers close to the Iranian regime claim the fighter jets will give Iran air superiority over Israel.

The apparent end to the deal has prompted many on social media to argue that despite Tehran paying ransoms to Russia in various ways, Moscow continually stabs Iran in the back.

Hirsh Saidian, a journalist and researcher on July 11, tweeted: “They said in exchange for shouldering the cost of supplying drones to the war in Ukraine, Moscow would give Iran Sukhoi Su-35 and S-400 [mobile, surface-to-air missile system].”

“However, not only did they not supply weapons, they even denied Iran’s rightful ownership of the three [Persian Gulf] Islands [Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa,]” Mr. Saidian noted.

“It is the strength and status of a country that determines what it can achieve on the global stage, not its arrogance or willingness to serve another country or be its lucky,” Saidian added.

Russia Is Reluctant to Side with Iran in Disputes Over Persian Gulf Islands

Senior Iranian military officials have been under the illusion that Russia would help them build planes and helicopters.

A week before the apparent collapse of the Sukhoi Su-35 deal, Iran’s ambassador to Moscow, Kazem Jalali, told the Russian Sputnik news agency that Iran and Russia were cooperating on the “Sukhoi Superjet 100” passenger plane without giving further details of the project.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic air force must continue using the Soviet-era Sukhoi Su-24 supersonic, all-weather tactical bomber, given that Russia will not give Iran Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters anytime soon.

Also, the EU recently announced that the arms embargo on Iran would not be lifted this coming fall.

Link to Kayhan.London/Persian 

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