Iranian Army’s Air Force Commander Hamid Vahedi has said that his country is ready to share its experiences in the sphere of fighter aircraft.
“We are ready to share our experiences in the sphere of fighter aircraft with our friendly countries and help them in this regard,” Vahedi told Iranian state television IRIB on June 1.
He also mentioned that The Shahid Sattari University of Aeronautical Engineering, which is considered to be Iran Air Force's military academy, has launched drone flight studies.
Vahedi said, “Here we announce to our friendly countries in the region that we are ready to accept UAV operator students and provide training in both piloting and technical aspects.”
Asked about the major differences between the Iran-manufactured Kaman 12 and 22 drones, Vahedi said that the upgraded drone has a longer flight time and a stealth system. “So, we have drones that can hide them from our enemies,” he noted.
In April 2022, Iran unveiled its Kaman-22 drone, which is able to reach Israel. The Kaman-22 is a long-range and strategic multi-functional combat drone with an operational range of over 3,000 kilometres, capable of flying at an altitude of 8,000 meters for more than 24 hours.
The wide-body UAV is capable of carrying several types of cargo (up to 300 kg) as well as four guided missiles, two unguided bombs and other munitions. It can be used for a range of missions, including patrol, reconnaissance, data gathering, imaging, and aerial combat with a payload of smart weapons.
The Kaman-22 drone is an upgrade to Kaman-12, and is similar to the American Predator MQ-1 and Reaper MQ-9.
Vahedi also said that Iran "needs" to revamp its air fleet but added that he has "no information" about the acquisition of new jets.
"There has been a lot of talk in the media about the Sukhoi jets but I really don't know when they will enter our fleet," he added.
Iran’s air force has an assortment of US-made military aircraft, purchased before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It also has Russia-made MiG and Sukhoi planes.
The Western sanctions have made it hard for the country to renovate its ageing fleet. The Iranian aviation industry was virtually cut off from purchasing spare parts needed to repair and upgrade aircraft.
Iran seeks to renovate its ageing Air Force fleet by acquiring fighter jets from Russia. The country’s air force fleet reportedly includes several overhauled Soviet-era Su-22 fighter jets and reverse-engineered jets from American Northrop F-5s (Saeqeh and Kowsar).
On May 28, Iran's Defence Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani described reports that Iran had already purchased Sukhoi-35 (Su-35) fighter jets from Russia and would receive them in the near future as "mostly speculation".
He added that Iran was itself a manufacturer of military equipment, including aircraft, but would seek to get technological capabilities or equipment from "any country" if Tehran sees it necessary for its military power.
Earlier in March, Ashtiani said that Iran was still pursuing the acquisition of Su-35 fighter jets from Russia.
Iran-Russia relations have deepened following the latter's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and after Moscow was hit by Western sanctions. Iran said it supplied Russia with a "limited number of drones" months before the war in Ukraine, but it rejected assertions that its drones are being used to target Ukrainian infrastructure.
According to Ukrainian military intelligence, Russia and Iran signed a contract last summer for the supply of over 1,750 Iranian UAVs of two types, Shahed and Mohajer. The first batch of 350 drones was delivered to Russia, and the second batch includes about 250 pieces, Spokesman for Ukraine Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate Vadym Skibitsky said in November.