Iran has finalized a deal to buy Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets from Russia, state media reported, as defense cooperation between the two countries deepens, reported Times of Israel.
“Moscow is ready to deliver the fighter jets to Iran,” the country’s mission to the United Nations was quoted as saying in the official IRNA. “Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets were technically approved by the Iranian aviation experts, and therefore… Iran finalised the contract to buy those planes,” it said.
However, there was no immediate confirmation of the deal from Russia.
“Russia announced it was ready to sell them” after the expiry in October 2020 of restrictions on Iran purchasing conventional weapons under UN Resolution 2231, said the statement carried out late Friday by the official IRNA news agency.
“The Sukhoi 35 fighter jets were technically acceptable for Iran,” it added.
Tehran has forged strong ties with Moscow in various sectors including the military in the past year.
Kyiv has accused Tehran of supplying Moscow with Shahed-136 “kamikaze” drones used in attacks on civilian targets since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year – an allegation Iran denies, reported Al Arabiya News.
The United States has expressed alarm over the growing military cooperation between Iran and Russia, with Pentagon spokesman John Kirby warning in December that Russia looked likely to sell Iran its fighter jets.
According to reports earlier in the year, Iran had placed an order for 24 of Russia’s most advanced jets along with other military hardware, including air defence systems, missile systems and helicopters.
Iran currently has mostly Russian MiG and Sukhoi fighter jets that date back to the Soviet era, as well as some Chinese aircraft, including the F-7.
Some American F-4 and F-5 fighter jets dating back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution are also part of its fleet.
The United States began reimposing sanctions on Iran in 2019, a year after its unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal under then-president Donald Trump.
The 2015 deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, gave Iran relief from international sanctions in return for curbs on its suspect nuclear program.