A J-10 aircraft on display at the Shanghai National Defense Weapons Expo, Aug. 23, 2014. (Photo/Xinhua)
China and Russia are looking to give Iran's armed forces a boost with fighter jets and defense systems as part of their strategy against the United States, Taiwan based wantchinatimes reported Wednesday, quoting China’s Sina Military Network.
With the US encouraging its allies to gang up on China in the West Pacific and NATO pushing on Russia in the Black Sea and the Barents Sea, the report said, Beijing and Moscow are striking back by investing their efforts in the Middle East and in particular, Iran-a country that continues to be a tricky issue for Washington.
As part of this strategy, China is said to be aiming to provide Iran with a new fleet of advanced fighter jets, while Russia is considering selling Iran a new missile defense system, the network said.
The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) currently has around 500 aircrafts, though they comprise mostly of old fighter jets like the F-4D, Su-24, F-5E, J-7M and the F1. There is also a limited number of F-14As and MiG-29s, but not enough to counterbalance the US and its allies. Iran's air defense systems are also regarded as weak and plagued with holes.
Russia is reportedly offering Iran an upgraded version of its S-300 air defense system. The S-300 would significantly bolster Iran's defense as it can intercept aircrafts and missiles from extremely low altitudes to high altitudes and from both close and long range.
The US strongly opposed when Iran first suggested acquiring the S-300, but Moscow ignored the protests and continued promoting the system to Tehran.
China, on the other hand, is close to completing a deal to sell Iran 150 J-10 fighters, according to Sina Military, citing Russian media sources. Photos leaked online recently showing what appeared to be around a dozen or so J-10B fighters in a row that have already been painted in IRIAF colors.
The J-10, currently part of the core arsenal of the People's Liberation Army Air Force and Navy, is an all-weather, multirole fighter highlighted by its superior air combat capabilities against both land and air targets. The domestically developed aircraft can also be equipped with PL-10, PL-11 and PL12 air-to-air missiles, YJ-62, YJ-91 and YJ-83 anti-ship cruise missiles, or LT-2, LS-6 or Type 200A bombs.
If the J-10 deal is finalized, Iran's air combat capabilities will undergo a major overhaul, Sina Military said. While the size of the IRIAF is too small to have an advantage against the US and its allies in combat, the J-10 provides Iran with what it needs, an aircraft that can carry out a wide array of missions with precision and efficiency.