Iran is buying Russia ‘s lethal Sukhoi Su-30

Sukhoi Su-30Sukhoi Su-30 M

Iran looks set to sign a deal to purchase Russian – made Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker fighters as it upgrades its military forces following the nuclear deal, which cleared the way for sanctions to be lifted on Tehran.

Iranian defense minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan visited Moscow on February 16 to discuss the potential fighter buy, as well as to discuss deliveries of the Almaz-Antey S-300 air and missile defense system.

Gen. Hossein Dehghan met with President Vladimir Putin and also also with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, who hailed a “high level of mutual trust” between Moscow and Tehran and the readiness to coordinate policies.

Earlier, the Iranian Mehr News Agency had quoted Dehghan—who appeared on Iranian state TV—saying that Tehran needs to focus on modernizing its air force. To that end, Dehghan specifically cited the Su-30—but he did not indicate which version of Russian-built jet Tehran is interested in.

Presumably Iran would want one of the advanced variants similar to the aircraft operated by India, Malaysia, Algeria and Russia itself. However, it is also possible that Iran could opt for a variant of the more basic Su-30M2, which is also in service with the Russian Air Force. That variant is somewhat less expensive, which might make more sense considering Iran’s economic situation. Perhaps of note, Iran does not seem content with merely buying the Su-30; Tehran seems intent on license production of the aircraft.

The Su-30 M2 variant, which is built in Komsomolsk-on-Amur in Russia’s far east, is missing the Su-30 SM’s canards and thrust vectoring nozzles. It also has a less comprehensive avionics suite. Either way, the addition of any Su-30 variant would greatly increase the capabilities of the Iranian air force, which is mostly equipped with an antiquated mix of American-, Russian- and Chinese-built hardware.

By Dave Majumdar, defense editor for the National Interest

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