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Monday, July 30, 2007

Russia to sell 250 long-range fighter jets to Iran

The Israeli government is 'looking into' reports that Russia has agreed to sell 250 Sukhoi-30 long-range fighter jets (pictured) to Iran.
According to reports, in addition to the fighter jets, Teheran also plans to purchase a number of aerial fuel tankers that are compatible with the Sukhoi and capable of extending its range by thousands of kilometers. Defense officials said the Sukhoi sale would grant Iran long-range offensive capabilities.

Government officials voiced concern over the reports. They said Russia could be trying to compete with the United States, which announced over the weekend a billion-dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

Despite Israeli and US opposition, Russia recently supplied Iran with advanced antiaircraft systems used to protect Teheran's nuclear installations. At the time, Moscow said it reserved the right to sell Iran weapons, such as the antiaircraft system, that were of a defensive nature.

The Sukhoi-30 is a two-seat multi-role fighter jet and bomber capable of operating at significant distances from home base and in poor weather conditions. The aircraft enjoys a wide range of combat capabilities and is used for air patrol, air defense, ground attacks, enemy air defense suppression and air-to-air combat.
DEBKA reports that the number of fuel tankers is twenty and that the tanker in question is the IL-78 MKI (being towed by an IAF fighter in the accompanying picture). DEBKA adds that delivery of the first planes has been stipulated before the end of 2007.
The transaction, Russia’s largest arms deal in 30 years, will endow Iran with a long-range aerial assault capability. The Sukhoi can sustain a four-and-a-half hour raid at its maximum range of 3,000 km against long-distance, marine and low-lying ground targets across the Persian Gulf and Middle East, including Israel and Lebanon.

The fuel tankers extends the Su-30MKM’s assault sustainability to 10 hours and its range to 8,000 km at altitudes of 11-13 km. The closest comparable plane in the West is the American F-15E fighter bomber. Iran’s acquisition of an exceptionally large fleet of the Russian fighter-bomber will elevate its air force to one of the two largest and most advanced in the region, alongside the Israeli Air Force.

Iranian air crews are already training on the new Sukhoi aircraft, ready to start flying them early next year with only a short delay after delivery. DEBKAfile’s sources report that Moscow is selling Tehran the same Sukhoi model as India received earlier this year. The Iranians leaned hard on New Delhi to let them have the Israeli avionics and electronics the Indian Air Force had installed in the Russian craft. India refused. [India is smart. They realize that they need to be able to buy Israeli arms in the future and that they won't be able to if they give those systems to Iran. CiJ]

Russia began delivering the same craft in June to Malaysia, which also sought Israeli avionics without success. The Su-20MKM has won the nickname of “Islamic Version of Sukhoi.”

Its two-member crew shares the workload. The first pilot flies the aircraft, controls weapons and maneuvers the plane in a dogfight. The co-pilot employs BVR air-to-air and air-to-ground guided weapons in long-range engagements, sweeps the arena for enemy craft or missiles and performs as command-and-control in group missions.

Some of the plane’s systems are products of the French Thales Airborne Systems company. Moscow’s contract with Tehran for the sale of the Su-30MKM must therefore be cleared with Paris. [I don't understand something. Why is it that France has to clear the deal, while Israel apparently would not have had to clear the sale of the Israeli avionics installed by India had India chosen to sell them? Are our arms salespeople doing such a poor job of negotiating that we don't have a veto? CiJ]

There is no decision in Jerusalem about asking Paris to withhold its consent to a deal which would substantially upgrade the long-range air assault capabilities of the Islamic Republic whose leaders want to wipe Israel off the map. However, President Nicolas Sarkozy is in mid-momentum of a diplomatic drive in the Arab and Muslim world and unlikely to be receptive to an Israeli approach. The only chance of aborting the Russian sale would be to route the approach through Washington.
No. I think the Israeli government would be insane not to approach the French and not to approach them openly. If France under Sarcozy is so willing to sell Israel down the tubes for their Arab friends (i.e. it's the same old France it was under Chirac), let's get that out in the open now so that we know where we stand and we stop pretending they're on our side. If (when) the French look to their wallets first (as usual), we can always ask the Bush administration to try to deal with the Russians. But I believe we actually have a better chance of succeeding with France than we do with Russia.


At 11:04 PM, Blogger ibrahim said...

Iran also has the right to buy and use the Su 30 jets against its enemies. No one makes a hue and cry when the criminals zionist, killers of john and assumed killers of jesus can buy billions of worth and work on ethano bomb. Iranians aslo have right to attack their enemies.it is hypocritic to say that iran should'nt get them.


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