Iran to Acquire Russian Fighter Jets

Russia will soon deliver 24 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets to Iran, Iranian state media reported December 28. This would be the first new fighter aircraft (that we know of) that Iran has purchased in decades. The last known purchase of foreign fighter jets was in 1990, when Tehran bought a handful of Soviet MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters.

A deepening alliance: The Su-35 is fourth-generation and a huge step up from what the Iranian Air Force currently has. Despite this, analysts don’t see them giving Tehran a technological edge over its adversaries in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or Israel. But the significance of the deal is not the technology Iran is getting; it’s the deepening relationship with Russia. According to United States National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, Russia will be sending trainers to teach Tehran how to operate the aircraft. And the collaboration won’t be limited to the Air Force. According to Kirby, Moscow is offering Tehran “an unprecedented level of military and technical support that is transforming their relationship into a full-fledged defense partnership.”

The future: The latest developments come as Iran deepens its support for Russia in the Ukraine war. Iran and Russia have worked together for years in arenas like Syria, but the Ukraine war has brought their cooperation to unprecedented levels. To learn where this is headed, read “An Alliance of Evil.”