Iran is about to conclude a transaction with China for the purchase of the Chengdu J-10 multirole jet fighter, known in the West as the Vigorous Dragon, according to an exclusive report from DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources. Beijing has agreed to sell Tehran 150 of these sophisticated jets.
While the Chinese J-10 is comparable to the US F-16, our sources report that it is virtually a replica of the Lavi, the super-fighter developed by Israel’s aerospace industry in the second half of the 80s. Israel sold China the technology, after Washington insisted on Its discontinuing the Lavi’s production. The US also objected to the sale of the Lavi’s avionics, claiming that it contained some American components.
The Chinese plane comes in two versions – the multirole single-seat J-10A and the two-seat J-10B, which serves for training, ground assaults and electronic warfare.
Iran has additionally weighing the purchase in Beijing of 250 highly-advanced Sukhoi-Su-30MK1 twinjet multirole air superiority fighters, known in the West as Flanker-H.
On Wednesday, July 29, an Indian Air Force Su-30MK1 took part for the first time in a British air maneuver, Rainbow, where it dueled with the European Typhoon fighter.
The sophisticated Flanker has been found to have a major shortcoming. To carry eight tons of ordnance, it must use both of its AL-31FP engines, and the transition from one to two – and the reverse – often causes engine failure.
The Indian Air Force has reported three such malfunctions in a month, as well another shortcoming: The time needed for making the aircraft serviceable is too long. As a result, only half of the Indian fleet can be airborne at one time.
In a confrontation, the Iranian Air Force may find that, because of these drawbacks, the Chinese Su-30MK1 is outmatched by its American and European counterparts in the service of the Israeli, Saudi and UAE air forces.
On July 22, DEBKAfile revealed that Moscow and Tehran had concluded a giant transaction for the acquisition of a fleet of 100 IL78 MK1 (Midas) in-flight refueling planes for extending the range of its warplanes up to 7,300 km and able to refuel 6-8 planes at once.
DEBKAfile: The scale of Iran’s multibillion acquisitions from China and Russia – 550 warplanes in all so far – indicates that Tehran’s top spending priority upon receipt of the funds released by the removal of sanctions, is to be a spanking new air force.
By Debka File