The sale of Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E fighter jets to Iran has returned to the media after the country’s Air Force Commander, Brigadier General Hamid Vahedi, stated that a deal with Russia is in his plans.
“The issue is on the agenda and we hope to be able to get these 4++ generation fighters in the future,” Vahedi told Borna news agency.
Iran has not received new fighter jets since 1990 when the Soviet Union handed over 18 MiG-29 fighter jets and 12 Su-24 attack planes, in addition to some F-7 (MiG-21) having been delivered by the Chinese.
Since then, the air force has sought to modernize its fleet, which consists of numerous models, including old F-4s and F-5s, Mirage F-1s captured from Iraq and the most iconic fighter, the F-14 Tomcat, of which 79 were delivered in the late 1970s, before the Islamic Revolution.
Chinese J-10C fighter jets
Months ago, Iranian media reported that the government and Russia were close to signing a comprehensive deal for the sale of 24 Su-35 fighter jets that had originally been produced to Egypt.
According to reports, Iran is also seeking to close an order for 36 Chinese-made J-10C aicraft in exchange for oil. The objective is not to depend on just one commercial partner to support combat aircraft.
Despite the Iranian Air Force commander’s plans, approval of a deal depends on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a paramilitary group close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
According to Forbes, the IRGC favors a strategy focused on domestically developed attack drones and ballistic missiles rather than relying on foreign aircraft.