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Iran May Purchase Russian Su-35 Fighters to Modernize Air Forces

Russian aircraft Su-35 performs demonstration flights. Getty
Russian aircraft Su-35 performs demonstration flights. Getty

The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) plans to purchase Russian Su-35 Flanker-E fighter jets, according to its commander, Brigadier General Hamid Vahedi. It would constitute Iran’s biggest acquisition of fighter aircraft in over 30 years if authorized.

“The issue is on the agenda and we hope to be able to get these 4++ (4.5) generation fighters in the future,” Vahedi told Borna news agency on Sept. 4.

He stressed that the Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters would make the final decision rather than the air force. Furthermore, the IRIAF will most likely require an additional green light from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) paramilitary, the most powerful armed force in the country. The IRGC has invariably favored other projects, such as developing indigenous armed drones and ballistic missiles, rather than importing weaponry to modernize Iran’s regular armed forces.

Vahedi also clarified that the IRIAF now wants Su-35s rather than Su-30s. Since late 2021, there have been rumors that Iran would buy 24 Su-35s Russia had initially built for Egypt. These rumors have resurfaced in light of Vahedi’s latest statement and amidst heightened and unprecedented Russia-Iran military cooperation since the former’s invasion of Ukraine.

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