Tehran, Iran: In a significant development aimed at bolstering the prowess of Iran’s air force, reports surfaced on Saturday regarding the acquisition of an advanced fleet of Russian combat trainer aircraft. These Yak-130 training aircraft, sourced from the Russian Federation as part of arms contracts, have been strategically stationed at the esteemed Shahid Babaei Air Base in Isfahan, situated in central Iran.
The bilateral relationship between Russia and Iran, though constrained by international sanctions, has burgeoned over recent times, particularly in the realm of military cooperation. Earlier this year, Iran revealed its intentions to procure Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets from Russia, solidifying their alliance.
However, allegations from Ukraine and Western allies persist, accusing Iran of providing military aid to Moscow for its involvement in the ongoing conflict with Kyiv, claims fervently disavowed by the Iranian authorities.
Moreover, the United States, per the US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, expressed concerns regarding the burgeoning defense partnership between Iran and Russia. The US articulated that Iran had delivered an extensive arsenal of over 400 drones to Russia since August of the preceding year. Furthermore, Iran’s intent to acquire attack helicopters, radar systems, and Yak-130 aircraft from Russia has drawn scrutiny.
Presently, Iran’s air force predominantly relies on aging Russian MiG and Sukhoi fighter jets, remnants from the Soviet era, along with some Chinese aircraft, notably the F-7. Additionally, remnants of American F-4 and F-5 fighter jets, remnants predating the 1979 Islamic Revolution, remain part of Iran’s aircraft inventory.
In a separate maritime development, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards naval forces intercepted a vessel transporting contraband fuel in the Gulf, culminating in the apprehension of four crew members. Approximately 50,000 liters (13,000 gallons) of illicit fuel were discovered aboard the vessel. The vessel’s origin and the precise date of this operation have not been disclosed.
Chief Justice Mojtaba Ghahramani of Hormozgan province elucidated that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps navy confiscated the vessel and detained the four individuals involved. Subsequently, the seized fuel shall be channeled into Iran’s sanctioned distribution network.
The United States has recently heightened its military presence in the Gulf, citing concerns of Iran’s involvement in the seizure or attempted commandeering of ships navigating this critical maritime passage. On July 6, the US Navy reported the Revolutionary Guards’ seizure of a commercial vessel in the Gulf, following prior allegations of two similar incidents off the coast of Oman. Iran, in response, clarified that the confiscated vessel contained “more than one million liters (220,000 gallons) of smuggled fuel.”