According to a statement today by the Iran’s defense minister, the two countries have agreed a deal that would see Iran begin talking orders of Russia’s Sukhoi-30 fighter jets now that it has signed its nuclear deal with the United States and others.
Big upgrade to Iran’s air force
The Sukhoi might sound familiar as it was an older generation Su-24 that was shot down by Turkey following the plane entering Turkish airspace in late 2015. But that was a considerably older model than what Iran will use to bolster its defensive and attacking prowess of its air force.
On the ministry’s website, General Hossein Dehghan did not give any specific numbers to the public when writing about the impending sale. But, he did say that agreement between the two nations would see Iran involved on some level in the production of the fighter-bombers that will significantly upgrade its air force’s capabilities.
Iran needs to “seriously focus on the air force and fighters,” said Dehgnan “We are moving toward a contract. We told them that we need to be involved in the production (of the plane) as well.”
Comparisons and capabilities of the Sukhoi-30
At present, Iran’s air force would be well out of their league in a conflict with a number of regional powers as well as the United States as it’s largely dependent on older, outdated, Soviet-era MiGs that have been modified domestically. The country also has a fleet of F14A Tomcats from the 1970s that it purchased from the States in the 1970’s prior to the ouster of the Shah following the Islamic Revolution.
The Sukhoi-30 was introduced in 1996 and remains in use by Russia, China, India, Indonesia and others. With a range of around 1,900 and the ability to target both ground and air targets it’s drawn comparisons to the American F-15.
Russia is presently using the Su-30 in missions over Syria where it is generally tasked with air-support missions for bombing of targets by slower planes with larger payoffs as Russia fights ISIS, but more often than not bombs groups opposed to the Assad regime that Russia continues to support.
Additional purchases from Russia
The defense ministry also said that it would begin taking delivery of the advanced air-defense system the Russian made S-300 that gives the United States and others pause. The S-300 has also been deployed to Syria in order to defend Russia and Syria interest and a number of units were immediately deployed to what is essentially a Russian airbase in Syria following the downing of its jet by Turkey last year.
Iran has already had crews training in Russia on the weapon system and will start deployment within a few months with the sale to be completed by the end of 2016. The system has an effective range of about 120 miles depending on the version and can engage up to 24 planes or missiles simultaneously.
The deal was expected quite awhile ago, but Russia nixed the sale in 2010 over international pressure and sanctions, but with the signing of the nuclear deal the delivery will continue and the contract honored.
Other “conventional” upgrades to Iran’s military are quite real and any attack by Israel or the United States if Iran returns to its work developing a nuclear weapon, a conventional attack by other nations will be, by definition, a more difficult mission with the addition of the fighters but especially with the deployment of the S-300.