Iran’s move to acquire Russian Sukhoi-35 (Su-35) fighter jets is "not that important", said Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
“Considering the fact that many countries are seeking to buy military hardware from the Islamic Republic of Iran, the issue of purchasing this fighter by our country is not very important,” Iranian military news website Defapress quoted Fadavi as saying.
“Trading, buying and selling different equipment are a customary issue among all countries,” the official said, commenting on reports that Iran is set to buy Russian fighter jets.
Iran's UN mission announced on March 11 that the country had finalized the contract for the purchase of Su-35 aircraft from Russia, as restrictions on Tehran’s purchase of conventional arms lifted in October 2020 in accordance with UN Resolution 2231.
In a recent report, The New York Times said that, based on satellite imagery, the Iranian Air Force was preparing its Oghab-44 underground base for the possible arrival of Su-35 jets.
In December, Iran's Press TV reported that Russia "will soon provide a complete squadron" of Su-35 jets to Iran. In another report, it cited military experts saying that Iran will soon receive 24 of the fourth-generation twin-engine, super-maneuverable fighter jets from Russia that are primarily used for air superiority missions.
An Iranian journalist, Khayal Muazzin wrote on his Telegram channel in late November that 60 Russian Su-35 multipurpose fighters were already delivered to Iran. However, this report was never confirmed.
In September 2022, Iranian Army's Air Force Brigadier General Hamid Vahedi, said that the purchase of Su-35 fighter jets from Russia is “on the air force’s agenda”.
He, however, added that the final decision rests with Iran’s army commander and chief of staff of the country’s armed forces.
Iran seeks to renovate its aging Air Force fleet by acquiring fighter jets from Russia. Iran'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).
The Iranian Air Force suffered from the Western sanctions, resulting in frequent losses to its fleet due to “technical problems”.
The new jets could be a payment for Iranian drones used by Russia in its war against Ukraine, according to global media outlets.
The US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported in late August that “Tehran and Moscow are pursuing greater aviation cooperation in order to circumvent international sanctions on Russia and Iran and support Russian operations in Ukraine.”
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.