Tehran Times discusses in an interview with a military expert:

What effect does receiving Su-35 have on Iran's air power and regional equations?

January 23, 2023 - 19:45

TEHRAN- The Islamic Republic of Iran will soon receive a full squadron of Sukhoi Su-35 fighter planes from Russia, a move that is certain to further enrage the West as Tehran and Moscow are strengthening their defense and economic collaboration in defiance of Western comprehensive sanctions and draconian measures.

According to media sources, quoting military specialists, Iran will soon get 24 of the fourth-generation twin-engine, super-maneuverable fighter jets from Russia that are mostly used for air dominance missions.

A lawmaker has anticipated that Iran will receive a number of Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets from Russia early in the upcoming Iranian year, which begins on March 21.

Tehran Times has interviewed Mehdi Bakhtiari, a military expert, in this regard.  

What effect does receiving Su-35 have on Iran's air power and regional equations?

Recently, one of the parliament members announced that Iran will receive Sukhoi Su-35 from Russia in the spring. Undoubtedly, receiving these fighters take place through certain steps and preparations. At what stage is this process?

Purchasing a fighter, or basically, any weapon purchase requires a series of preparations in the related unit, which sometimes makes the delivery process a little longer. For example, in the case of purchasing any type of fighter, in addition to the training of pilots, technical support, repair, and preservation facilities, in fact the (whole) unit, must be prepared. Moreover, Iran is one of the few countries that uses both Western and Eastern aircraft in its air fleet, however, Western productions are dominant due to much more purchases from the West in the past. This (fact) can influence the process of preparing facilities for Eastern aircraft. In addition, the process of manufacturing the product by the manufacturer according to the order of the buyer is another effective factor in the delivery time. 

While several officials have announced that the delivery of the equipment purchased from Russia such as fighters is near, including the latest one by a member of the National Security Committee (of the Iranian Parliament) that Sukhoi Su-35 fighters will arrive in Iran early next (Iranian) year, I personally believe that it is not possible to determine an exact time of delivery unless we see the aircraft on the runway of one of the country’s military airports because ups and downs of relations between countries can sometimes be affected by a series of changes that are effective in the delivery or even non-delivery of such products.

Have the Russian authorities commented on this issue?

So far, except for a series of general comments, I have not seen any reliable and accurate news from Russian officials addressing these cases as examples.

In terms of technology and efficiency, how do you assess these fighters? Have they passed the test on a real battlefield so far?

Sukhoi Su-35 is one of the most powerful fighters of the 4.5 generation and a single-seater air superiority aircraft. The fighter is the most advanced type of Russia's Flanker Family, which started with the Sukhoi Su-27, and is the most advanced fighter in service of the Russian military after the Sukhoi Su-57. Benefiting from phased array radars and the ability to carry a wide range of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons, this multi-role fighter, in addition to its main mission of air combat, can also operate against targets both on the ground and sea.

Sukhoi Su-35's first combat presence was in the Syrian war, which was mostly used in combat patrol flights near the airspace of the Occupied Territories and Turkey, and in some cases, air-to-surface attacks. In the Ukraine war, the fighter was mainly used for air patrol, air-to-air combat, and anti-radar operations. Its performance caused the Ukrainian pilots to consider the Sukhoi Su-35 a serious threat. As of yet, there has been only one report regarding the fighter being shot down.

How does receiving these fighters boost the capacity of Iran’s Air Force?

Shortly after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the Islamic Republic was subjected to the most severe sanctions, and these sanctions had more pressure on the military field, especially the air sector.

Due to the high consumption of spare parts in fighter jets and use of these jets in the extensive 8-year war (Iraq’s war against Iran in the 1980s), the potency of the air sector faced many problems, although some purchases in the 1370s (1990s) partially met these needs. But in general, the air sector is still suffering from many problems due to old aircraft.

Of course, the Islamic Republic (of Iran) has tried to meet some of these needs by developing other sectors such as missile and drone (sectors), however, new generation of fighters in the air fleet of the armed forces can greatly help in improving the defense power, especially since Iran's neighbors in the region and, of course, the enemies are focusing on strengthening their air power day by day. The existence of new Sukhoi Su-35 fighters will surely complete (some) needs of the air fleet, although the number of these aircraft and their complementary equipment should also be taken into consideration.

Can these fighters affect the balance of military power in the region, especially regarding the Israeli regime?

Surely it does. Of course, regarding the threats of the Zionist regime, focusing on the issue of air defense, as well as the development of missile and drone capabilities, in addition to strengthening the Resistance Front in these two fields, has had great effects.

Do you think the Russians want to send a message to the West by selling these jets to Iran in view of the Ukraine war?

Every relation and even the purchase and sale of military equipment between (any) countries surely carries a political message to others, and this cooperation between Iran and Russia (not only in the field of purchasing fighters) is naturally not an exception. But the issue of purchasing fighters from Russia has been on the agenda for years and it is unlikely to have a special connection with the war in Ukraine. However, the delivery of this equipment in this particular period of time - if it happens - can also have a political message, especially to countries such as the United States and the European Union.

In your opinion, how will the U.S. and the Israeli regime react to this issue?

At different times, whenever the Islamic Republic of Iran aimed to reach an agreement with practical action in the international arena, the United States and the Zionist regime tried their best efforts to prevent it. We also witnessed this in the JCPOA. Even in the past, regarding the purchase of the S-300 missile system from Russia, we witnessed how the obstructions of countries such as the United States and the Zionist regime delayed the transfer of the system from Russia to Iran for several months.

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