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Officially: iran Got Mi-28 Attack Helicopters on Top of Su-35 from russia

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Mi-28 attack helicopters / Open source photo
Mi-28 attack helicopters / Open source photo

Delivery of Mi-28s in addition to earlier negotiated Su-35 fighters and Yak-130 trainers has been confirmed by the iranian defense ministry

Ministry of Defense of iran has officially confirmed the receipt of Su-35 multirole fighter jets from the russian federation, observed in the country by eyewitnesses since April. Tehran also disclosed its possession of Mi-28 attack helicopters and Yak-130 combat trainer aircraft. While the Yak-130 in iranian colors was showcased in September, information about the Mi-28 remained limited.

Deputy Defense Minister Mahdi Farahi, quoted by iran's Tasnim News, said more of these russian aircraft are yet to arrive.

Read more: Transfer of Su-35 Aircraft from russia to Iran: Unveiling the Intriguing Puzzle
Su-35
Su-35 / Open source photo

Although Moscow and Tehran didn't disclose specific figures or delivery timelines, it's estimated that around 24 Su-35 fighters initially manufactured for Egypt, could end up in iran.

Regarding the Mi-28, unofficial information in January 2023 suggested iran and russia had agreed on licensed production of Ka-52 and Mi-28 attack helicopters on iranian factories. The official iranian statement, however, indicates the receipt of a certain number of ready-made Mi-28s from russia. Still, it doesn't rule out that helicopter production will be localized in the future.

russian Mi-28
russian Mi-28 / Open source photo

Strengthening aviation, particularly fighter aircraft, is crucial for iran, given its reliance on outdated American-made jets predating even the 1979 revolution, Chinese copies of MiG-21, and Iraqi fighters transferred to iran to shelter from the Coalition in 1991.

The iranian Air Force, on paper, consists of the following aircraft:

  • F-5: more than 75 units
  • F-4 Phantom: up to 68 units
  • F-14: up to 43 units
  • F-7M (Chinese MiG-21 copy): 24 units
  • MiG-29 (delivered by Iraqi pilots): 35 units
  • Mirage F-1 (delivered by Iraqi pilots): up to 10 units
  • Su-22 (delivered by Iraqi pilots): about 10 units
  • Su-24 (delivered by Iraqi pilots): 29 units
  • Su-25 (delivered by Iraqi pilots): 10 units

The actual operational readiness of these aged aircraft remains questionable, though.

As for the helicopter fleet, iran has remnants of AH-1J Cobra (up to 50 units) and an unspecified number of light single-seat HESA Shahed 285s, based on the U.S.-Canadian Bell 206.

HESA Shahed 285 and AH-1J Cobra in iran
HESA Shahed 285 and AH-1J Cobra in iran / Open source photo

In other words, the provision of russian Mi-28 fills the critical gap in attack helicopters with long-range guided weapons, and thus is no less important than the Su-35.

Additionally, the transfer of the Yak-130 offers the potential for converting this trainer jet into a light fighter/attack aircraft, a logical step for iran.

iranian Yak-130
iranian Yak-130 / Open source photos

Moreover, further cooperation with russia might give Tehran all it needs to repair and modernize its MiG-29, Su-24, and Su-25, significantly bolstering its air force and shifting the balance of forces in the region. The presence of the Su-35, in particular, complicates any attempts to carry out airstrikes on iran's nuclear facilities.

Read more: ​russia Tried to Sell Su-35 Fighters to the Middle East, But No One Was Interested in the Offer Yet