Tomcats To Super Flankers: Iran Might Soon Receive Its Most Advanced Fighter In Almost 50 Years

Unconfirmed reports in Iran’s press suggest the country may take delivery of the first batch of Su-35 Flanker-E fighter jets it ordered from Russia in the coming weeks. In an article that has since been removed, Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that the jets, also known as “Super Flankers,” will soon arrive in Iran. In light of the article’s deletion and past rumours that the aircraft began arriving in April, and statements, such as one affirming the jets would begin arriving in March, ultimately proving premature or outright false, one should take this news with a grain of salt.

Still, the arrival of the Super Flankers in the not-too-distant future will undoubtedly mark a milestone for Iran’s long-neglected air force, officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF). The IRIAF hasn’t imported any new fighter jets in 33 years. But one has to go back 47 years to find a fighter procurement this significant for Tehran.

Despite a U.S. arms embargo and chronically unreliable TF30 engines, F-14As inherited by the IRIAF, and often flown by pilots previously imprisoned and tortured by the new Islamist regime, fought throughout Iran’s lengthy eight-year war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, downing many enemy jets.

Outfitted with the powerful AWG-9 radar and armed with the long-range AIM-54 Phoenix air-to-air missile, which could hit targets up to 100 miles away, the Tomcat was a formidable opponent and a true air superiority fighter. While the fourth-generation fighter, truly cutting-edge for its day, served Iran well, the time has ultimately taken its toll. Iran’s rivals have acquired more advanced and modern jets in the intervening decades.

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