Iran may be close to announcing a deal to buy 24 Sukhoi Su-35S fighter jets, among other Russian-supplied weapons.
According to Iranian journalist Babak Taghvaee, the two countries are expected to sign a $10 billion deal that involves SAM S-400 missile batteries, a military satellite, aircraft revitalization and fighter jets that had originally been acquired by Egypt.
Most of the Su-35S would have already been produced and are currently at KnAAZ’s facilities, as shown by satellite images from last year.
Egypt had closed an agreement with Russia to receive up to 26 Su-35S fighters, making it the first country in the Middle East to have the modernized version of the aircraft. However, US pressure would have made the government withdraw from the deal as it also has a vast fleet of western fighter jets and would no longer be supported.
Rumors also indicate that the Egyptian Air Force conducted a test of the Su-35S’s Irbis-E radar against the Dassault Rafale’s ECM system in which the Russian plane was easily overpowered.
The transfer of the Egyptian fighters, if confirmed, would involve a direct sale to Iran in exchange for oil since the contract with Russia would not have expired.
Iran’s Air Force is quite outdated due to embargoes. According to Flight International, the country has 63 F-4, 41 F-14, 49 F-5, 17 Mirage F1, 19 MiG-29, 23 Su-24 and 19 F-7 fighters.
Iranian pilots were already in training in Russia to fly the new fighter jets, according to rumors.