Iran is said to have received Russian aircraft, but not the long-awaited Su-35

Planes ordered by Iran from Russia have begun arriving in the country, according to Iranian media reports. However, these planes are not the Su-35 Flanker fighter jets that Tehran had hoped to start receiving this year.

The semi-official Iranian news agency Tasnim reported on Saturday mentioned The country has received Yak-130 subsonic trainer jets, citing undated photos and videos purporting to show the new aircraft bearing IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) markings. At least two Yak-130s are said to be located in Isfahan Province in central Iran and are now in service with the Iranian Air Force.

While these trainers, which can also serve as light combat aircraft, are not as capable as the Su-35, their delivery may indicate that Russia will also deliver the fighter at a later date.

In recent weeks, there have been increasing indications and reports that Moscow reneged on a prior agreement to sell Tehran 24-50 super-maneuverable Sukhoi multirole fighters. Iran has provided Russia with hundreds of drones, mostly single-use loitering munitions, for use in its ongoing war against Ukraine.

Farzin Nadimi, a defense and security analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was unable to confirm or deny the authenticity of the photos and videos of the Yak-130 delivery. However, he opined that if the delivery is indeed confirmed, it could be “a logical step before acquiring the fourth-generation fighters” and also “indicates that the Su-35 deal will eventually move forward at some point in the future”.

Iranian officials have expressed optimism that Russia will deliver the Su-35s as early as March this year. This optimism has since been tempered one report Which indicates that Russia has not fulfilled its obligations in the deal to supply Iran with 50 Su-35 aircraft that Tehran had paid for in 2021 and is expected to start receiving them this year.

There has long been widespread speculation that Iran would get at least 24 Su-35s already built by Russia for Egypt, which has since canceled the order. The Ukraine war may have disrupted previous delivery plans and schedules.

Either way, the delivery of the Yak-130 seems to confirm that Russia is at least delivering something To Iran after all that Tehran has provided Moscow over the past 18 months.

The last time Russia moved military aircraft to Iran was in the first decade of the twenty-first century, and that was it Just six Su-25 Frogfoot attack aircraftwhich was also subsonic.

In 2019, the Defense Intelligence Agency of the US Department of Defense forecast Iran will seek Yak-130s from Russia along with S-400 air defense missiles, Bastion coastal defense systems, T-90 tanks and Su-30 jets once the UN arms embargo expires in October 2020. Tehran has since requested now to choose The Su-35 is the most advanced over the Su-30.

Tehran’s interest in the Yak-130 trainer aircraft may seem strange in light of its repeated promotion of its domestically produced trainer aircraft. Iran in March Production line opened For its original HESA Yasin training aircraft. Like the Yak-130, the Yasin can train pilots in the basics of the more advanced fourth generation fighters and serve as a light combat aircraft.

Aside from developing these trainers independently, Iranian officials dubiously claim that the country is capable of producing fourth-generation aircraft.

However, the Yasin and other similar Iranian aircraft may not give Iranian pilots the specific skills they will need to operate the Su-35.

“Although Iran equipped its latest Yasin trainer jet prototype update with a glass cockpit and some advanced features, it is still far from serial production,” Nadimi told me.

Moreover, he added, Iran’s domestic trainer aircraft “are also not known to have been developed with Russia’s fourth-generation fighter technology in mind in particular.”

Thus, the delivery of the Yak-130 subsonic trainers could indicate that Iran will eventually get its long-awaited Su-35s. As far as Tehran is concerned, better late than never.

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