During a recent television interview, Iran’s Defense Minister, General Hossein Dehqhan, announced that Iran will sign a contract with Russia for the co-production of an undisclosed number of Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30 multirole fighter aircraft, Fars News Agency reports.
Should the deal go through, Iran will be the second country in the world after India to produce a variation of the Su-30 fighter jet locally. However, as of now, it still remains unclear in what capacity Tehran will be involved in the aircraft production process.
According to a source within Iran’s Defense Ministry interviewed by Sputnik News, a contract could be signed as early as February 16, when the Iranian defense minister will arrive in Moscow to discuss the deliveries of S-300 air defense systems and the Sukhoi Su-30 aircraft.
“Minister Dehgan is taking a number of the Defense Ministry’s representatives to the Russian capital to meet with their Russian colleagues and other highly-ranked officials,” the source notes.
“The last stages will be discussed of delivering Iran the S-300 complex, the first part of which should arrive before the end of next month, and the second by the end of June. Minister Dehqwan will also discuss the delivery of Su-30 airplanes because the Defense Ministry believes the Iranian Air Force needs this type of plane. We’ve moved far in these discussions of purchases and I think that during the upcoming visit a contract will be signed,” according to the source.
First rumors about a likely Iranian-Russian Su-30 deal emerged already in the summer of 2015 during the MAKS airshow, held near Moscow. “We are discussing the purchase of Sukhoi fighter planes,” Dehqhan told Iran’s Press TV back then.
However, Iran’s Vice-President for Science and Technology Affairs, Sorena Sattari, who was also present during the discussions, downplayed the talks at the time: “We spoke about it but we didn’t discuss purchasing them and talks were mostly focused on the technological issues.”
As I explained previously (See: “Will Iran License-Build Russia’s T-90S Main Battle Tank?”):
Under the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCOP), an international agreement on the nuclear program of Iran signed in July 2015, the UN arms embargo will be lifted 5 years after the JCOP adoption day. However, conventional weapons sales can be decided on a case-by-case basis meanwhile. “During the five years arms deliveries to Iran would be possible if they clear a notification and verification process in the UN Security Council,” according to Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov.
It is unclear what variant of the Sukhoi Su-30 Iran is interested in, nor how many aircraft it wants to procure and within what timeframe. During his recent television interview, General Hossein Dehqhan, also rejected the idea of procuring Chengdu J-10 lightweight multirole fighter aircraft from China.