Iran says it has made a deal to buy SU-35 fighter jets from Russia in a move that will significantly expand the capabilities of its ageing air force.
The deal had been slated for months, with US and UK officials concerned that it was a quid-pro-quo agreement for the transfer of kamikaze drones being sent to Russia for use against Ukraine.
Iran did not offer any details on the deal that was made to acquire one of Russia’s most advanced combat aircraft.
Iranian state broadcaster IRIB quoted Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York as saying that “Iran has finalised a contract for [the] purchase” of the Sukhoi SU-35 fighter planes.
Russia has yet to confirm the deal, but Iran has been publicly discussing its intention to buy the jets for several months.
With both countries heavily sanctioned and isolated by the West, the relationship of convenience between Iran and Russia has been deepening since the invasion of Ukraine.
Iran denies that it has continued to send Shahed-136 drones to Russia since the war in Ukraine began. Despite the fact that many have been shot down and recovered there, Russia also denies using Iranian drones in battle.
At the end of January, the pair announced that they had connected their banking systems as a way to deepen their economic relationship and bypass sanctions.
Iran has been preparing for the arrival of the aircraft for some time. The country’s first underground airbase, named “Eagle 44”, was shown off in a propaganda video released in February, which, according to visual forensic analysis by the New York Times, appeared to be preparing for the arrival of the Russian jets.
Satellite imagery showed a one-to-one mock-up of an SU-35 at the base.
US officials warned that the potential deal could be coming soon in December and claimed that Iranian pilots were already in Russia, receiving training on how to fly the fighter jets.
Iran has been trying to revamp its air-force capacity since the end of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. It currently only has a few-dozen strike aircraft that are mostly older Russian jets and ageing US aircraft acquired before the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Western officials have expressed serious concern for regional security if Iran manages to advance its air-force capabilities.
Original News : https://news.yahoo.com/iran-says-buy-advanced-su-143012080.html
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