How Russia Arming Iran May Be Game-Changer for U.S., Allies in Middle East

Iran's confirmation that it was set to receive a batch of advanced Su-35 fighter jets from Russia has signaled the dawn of a new era in the complex relationship between Moscow

and Tehran, whose burgeoning defense axis could have significant ramifications for the security interests of the United States and its allies in the Middle East. The

development, confirmed earlier this week by a member of Iran's legislative National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, would mark the Islamic Republic's first major

acquisition of foreign warplanes this century. Set to arrive as early as this spring, the "fourth-generation ++" Su-35s would give the Iranian Air Force a substantial boost to its

aging fleet, and set the stage for potential future exchanges of military equipment between the two powers. Can Kasapoglu, a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based

Hudson Institute and directory of Security and Defense Research at the Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM) in Istanbul, Turkey, offered several reasons why

"Iran's Su-35 procurement is of particular importance." First, he argued that "such a super-maneuverable air-superiority fighter would boost Tehran's control over the

Iranian airspace." Russia's United Aircraft Corporation chief Yury Slyusar has described the Su-35S—reportedly the model set to be transferred to Iran—as "unrivaled in

aerial battles." The aircraft was set to represent the finest of Russian warplanes available for export, but the war in Ukraine has complicated international arms deals for

Russia, and the Su-35s in question were reportedly intended for sale to Egypt before the Arab country canceled.