Sukhoi Su-35S for Iran?

(To Andrea Gaspardo)

On January 15, 2023 the Iranian news agency Tasnim news published a seemingly important and potentially endlessly controversial piece of news that Iran will receive a batch of 21 heavy fighters starting March 24 this year Sukhoi Su-35S from Russia. Not only; always second Tasnim news, the planes in question would belong to a batch previously destined for Egypt and, once transferred to Iran, will be based at "Tactical Fighter Base 8 (TFB8) Baba'i" located near the city of Isfahan, the same base where they are quartered the three squadrons equipped with F-14s Tomcat, who make up the elite of the Iranian Air Force.

The announcement in question must be taken with a grain of salt because the history of Iranian military "procurement" over the last forty years is literally dotted with news of this type which, when tested, have turned out to be blatantly false. It is true that in the past the Islamic Republic of Iran has purchased aircraft and other military material from Russia and other post-Soviet countries, however if we carefully analyze the organization charts, we realize that, despite the acquisition over time of aircraft of Soviet/Russian, Chinese and French origin, to this day the backbone of the Iranian Air Force is still made up of aircraft of American origin or their local developments.

The news according to which Russia and Iran are on the verge of reaching an agreement on a more or less substantial supply of Su-35S have been chasing each other since the spring of 2022, but to date there is no trace that what has been said up to now corresponds to the truth.

However, it is true that the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian War was the beginning of a new era of "de facto collaboration" for Moscow and Tehran on a much broader basis of strategic interests than seen, for example, on the occasion of the Russian intervention in Syria (which began in September 2016 and is still ongoing). At that time it was the Iranians who contacted the Russians by dragging them into the quicksand of the Middle East with the aim of finding a strategic bank in the great Eurasian state which, despite the grotesque and approximate local propaganda, he was never a friend of the Persian state.

As an example: Russia has invaded Iran no less than 11 times throughout its history while Iran has contributed greatly to supporting the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet War in Afghanistan.

Although the joint Russian-Iranian military action has succeeded in the objective of propping up the Assad regime and partially stabilizing Syria, Moscow has until now shied away from the possibility of inaugurating a real all-round understanding with the Pasdaran (the only real foreign policy makers of the country).

The events of the current Russo-Ukrainian War have turned all the tables on the table. First of all, Iran has been a comfortable side for Russia in the strategies put in place by the Kremlin to respond to the "war of sanctions" waged by the West against Moscow. Secondly, and incredibly, in order to replenish its arsenals Moscow has put aside its pride and has had no qualms about sourcing weapons from Tehran in the context of the current Russo-Ukrainian War. In particular the HESA Shaheed 131 and HESA Shaheed 136 which are now also produced under license by the Russians themselves under the name of Geran-1 e Geran-2.

But Iranian arms supplies to Moscow were not limited to circuit munitions, as the Iranians quickly opened up the possibility of supplying their hungry Muscovite customer with UCAVs as well Mohajer-6 (photo) enabled to launch precision ammunition Ghaem-5, small arms for infantry, 82mm light mortars and 120mm heavy mortars, 122mm and 152mm ammunition for the D-30 and D-20 howitzers respectively, and even individual equipment for soldiers such as NIJ helmets II and flak/flak jackets Rouin-3.

It is rumored that Moscow has asked Tehran to also obtain ballistic and cruise missiles "made in Iran" but to date there has been no definitive confirmation.

Therefore, in the context of this new reality created by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the possibility that Russia has decided to cede its precious Su-35S to the Persians in return becomes at this point much more probable than what could have appeared even just a year ago.

Photo: US Navy / Kremlin / Fars Media Corporation