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March 11, 2023 10:51 am

Iran Says Deal Reached to Acquire Russian Fighter Jets

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avatar by i24 News

A Russian fighter jet. Photo: Rob Schleiffert via Wikimedia Commons.

i24 News – Iranian state media reported Friday that Tehran finalized a deal to buy Sukhoi-35 fighter jets from Russia, as defense cooperation between the two countries deepens.

The air force of sanctions-hit Iran has an aging fleet of aircraft and has struggled to obtain spare parts to keep its warplanes functional. In a statement to the United Nations, the Islamic Republic said it began approaching “countries to buy fighter jets” to replenish its fleet in the wake of the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988.

“Russia announced it was ready to sell them” after the expiry in October 2020 of restrictions on Iran from purchasing conventional weapons, said the statement carried by the official IRNA news agency.

“The Sukhoi 35 fighter jets were technically acceptable for Iran,” it added.

Tehran has forged strong ties with Moscow in various sectors in the past year. Kyiv has accused Tehran of supplying Moscow with Shahed-136 “kamikaze” drones used in attacks on civilian targets since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year – an allegation Iran denies.

The United States has also expressed alarm over the growing military cooperation between Iran and Russia, with Pentagon spokesman John Kirby warning in December that Russia looked likely to sell Iran its fighter jets. Kirby maintained that Iranian pilots were reportedly learning to fly the Sukhoi warplanes in Russia and that Tehran may receive the aircraft within the next year, which would “significantly strengthen Iran’s air force relative to its regional neighbors.”

Iran currently has mostly Russian MiG and Sukhoi fighter jets that date back to the Soviet era, as well as some Chinese aircraft. Some US-made fighter jets dating back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution are also part of its fleet.

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