Will Iran get Russian fighter jets in exchange for drones?

The partnership between Russia and Iran is taking shape: now Iran will buy 24 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets.

Why is this important?

Iran is one of the few countries that dares to supply Russia with military equipment. However, the agreement is not one-sided: Russia pays for the war material it receives and would now even offer its own equipment to the country in the Middle East.

In the news: Swarm of suicide drones in front of some warplanes: Iran and Russia appear to be entering into a trade deal.

  • Iran has already sold hundreds of Shahed-136 drones to Russia in recent months. These drones are launched from the ground at their targets; they explode along with their payload when they hit this target.
  • The drones are used by Russia to sow terror in Ukraine: the drones are launched at power plants and cities to ensure that these places are left without electricity. For example, the morale of the Ukrainian citizens must be broken, which could lead to violent protest against the war, and possibly lead to a negotiated peace.
  • Of course, those drones are not free: on August 20, a Russian transport plane flew to Tehran with 140 million euros in cash, but also British NLAW anti-tank missiles and American Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and Javelin anti-tank missiles. These were captured by the Russian army in Ukraine – the weapons had been donated to that country. Russia is donating them to Iran, which can disassemble and analyze the weapons to learn more about the equipment itself and use the technology to develop its own weapons.
  • Now the deal seems to have brought both countries closer together: Iran has been in demand for modern fighter jets for some time: the Iranian Air Force still relies mainly on older US aircraft, such as the F-5 and F-14 Tomcat, supplemented by some of its own further developments thereof. Russia has also supplied some combat aircraft, such as the MiG-29 and the Sukhoi Su-22. These are now also almost 30 years old; in the event of a war in the Middle East, the Iranian Air Force is simply no match for potential adversaries such as Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The essence: The Su-35 is one of the most modern combat aircraft today, and Iran may soon have 24 available.

  • According to Western intelligence, Iran may soon receive 24 Sukhoi Su-35 Flankers, a full squadron. The planes are brand new: they were built for the Egyptian Air Force, which paid $2 billion for it but ultimately did not sign the deal. According to Israel-based i24 News Iran is now offering itself as a buyer.
  • The same sound can be heard in the United States. Sources in President Joe Biden’s administration say so Eurasian Times that Iran is already training pilots to work with the fighter jets. “This partnership poses a threat not only to Ukraine, but also to Iran’s neighbors in the region. We have shared our available intelligence with our allies in the Middle East and globally,” a senior source said.
  • While the Iranian purchase of the Su-35s could test the balance of power in the Middle East, it does not appear that the initiative will actually upset it. Paul Iddon, a military expert who focuses on the Middle East, writes on a corporate website Forbes: “The Iranian Air Force needs at least 60 generation 4.5 aircraft (fighters from the 1990s or later equipped with advanced electronics and radars, ed.) to operate its most advanced aircraft, the F-14 Tomcat and the MiG -29 Fulcrum, must be replaced.”


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