Tehran’s growing cooperation with Moscow boosts both countries’ capabilities with Russian weapons potentially helping Iran harden its defenses against Israeli airstrikesstates in an article by Washington Postthus setting another parameter in the crisis that has erupted between the two countries and which could lead to spreading the conflict throughout the Middle East.

Last March, a Russian arms manufacturer invited an Iranian delegation on a VIP tour of its arms factories of advanced Russian air defense systems to shoot down enemy planes.

According to Washington Postat the factory, NPP Startin the city of Yekaterinburg, have been sanctioned by the US for supporting Russia’s war against Ukraine. Among its products are mobile launchers and other components for anti-aircraft arrays – including the Russian S-400, which military analysts estimate is capable of detecting and destroying stealth fighter jets flown by Israel and the United States.

A leaked Russian document that was part of stolen Iranian emails posted online in February by a hacker group, described the tour as a showcase for “scientific, technical and production capabilities” that Russia could offer Iran.

Whether the visit led directly to an arms purchase is unknown, but the trip, according to intelligence officials, is being interpreted as a deepening of strategic cooperation between Moscow and Tehran in the two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but also as a alliance that could emerge as an important factor as Israel weighs possible military strikes in retaliation for the weekend attack.

Iran has opened a dangerous new chapter in its relations with Russia, agreeing in 2022 to supply it with thousands of drones and cruise missiles to help Moscow in its war against Ukraine. The expanded ties have helped cement deals between Moscow and Tehran, including Russia’s pledge to provide its ally with advanced fighter jets and air defense technology, equipment that could help Tehran harden its defenses against any future air strikes from Israel or the United States. according to US, European and Middle Eastern intelligence officials and weapons experts.

It is not known how many of the systems have been supplied and deployed, but Russian technology could make Iran a far more formidable adversary, with an improved ability to shoot down planes and missiles, officials and experts said.

The arms deals, some details of which have not been released, are part of a broader cooperation that includes the co-production of military drones within Russia, the sharing of anti-jamming technology and real-time battlefield assessments. Both countries derive substantial benefits from the cooperation, while upgrading Iran’s status from a junior ally to a strategic partner, the Washington Post reports in its article.

According to intelligence officials, part of the deals is the negotiation of Iran’s supply of Su-35s, one of Russia’s most capable fighter-bombers, which would be a potentially dramatic upgrade to Iran’s air force, which consists mainly of rebuilt American and Soviet aircraft dating from before 1979. Russia has also pledged to provide technical assistance with Iranian spy satellites as well as help build rockets to carry more satellites into space, the officials said.

There is no public evidence that Su-35s have been delivered. The suspension of the deal may be due to a delay by Iran in paying for the planes, according to a US and Middle East intelligence official with detailed knowledge of the deal.

On the defense side, Iran has long sought to acquire Russia’s leading anti-aircraft missile arrays to protect its nuclear and military facilities from a possible US or Israeli strike. In 2007, Tehran struck a deal to buy the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft system, but Moscow delayed supplying the weapons amid pressure from the United States and European powers. The ban ended in 2016 and Iran’s S-300s became operational in 2019.

Iran has since sought to buy Russia’s more capable S-400 system, although it is not publicly known whether Moscow has moved forward with providing S-400 arrays.
Some variants of the S-400 are equipped with radars that can defeat the stealth technology used by modern warplanes. Russia has deployed the S-400s to protect its military bases in Syria, and the arrays pose a potential threat to US and Israeli military aircraft that occasionally operate in Syrian airspace.

If delivered, the new Russian anti-aircraft missiles and anti-aircraft systems, which are being developed to protect underground bases in the Rocky Mountains, will certainly make Iranian airspace “a more dangerous place,” said Khan Kassapoglu, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Washington.

This is important at a time when the regime is moving rapidly and uncontrollably towards a bomb,” Kassapoglu said. In addition, he said, “any involvement [με το Ισραήλ] will take place in Iranian airspace, where Tehran will have the advantage of playing at home.”

Moscow also benefits from the cooperation, intelligence officials said. In addition to thousands of unmanned aerial vehicles procured from Iran, Russia agreed late last year to buy about $2 billion worth of additional military equipment, including anti-drone defense systems.

Iran has separately agreed to sell Russia surface-to-surface missiles for use in Ukraine and, according to a new intelligence assessment, the weapons transfer is expected to begin immediately. Intelligence agencies so far have no evidence to confirm that the missiles have been delivered, the officials said.

The production of battlefield drones has evolved into a joint venture between the two countries, intelligence officials said. Initially, Iran’s supply of drones to Russia was an attempt by Tehran to help its ally plug a hole in its military campaign against Ukraine. Russia, which had few drones on the battlefield at the beginning of the war, began using two types of Iranian Shahed drones in the fall of 2022: the long-range Shahed-131 and the Shahed-136.

By mid-summer 2023, Russia began manufacturing Iranian-designed Shahed-136 drones at the plant in Alabuga, a city in Russia’s Tatarstan region, about 500 miles east of Moscow. Russian documents obtained by the Washington Post last year described plans to build 6,000 drones by the summer of 2025 for use against Ukrainian forces, as well as power plants and other vital infrastructure.

Concerned about Russia’s domestic production, the Ukrainian military launched its own drone strike against the Alabuga complex on April 2.

More recently, Moscow and Tehran have begun cooperating on new types of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, according to intelligence officials and leaked documents. The trove of Russian and Iranian emails and files released by hacker group Prana Network was reportedly stolen from an Iranian server linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps earlier this year.

The Post was unable to independently verify the documents, but two Biden administration officials admitted that US intelligence agencies have carefully studied the leaked material and do not question its authenticity. Neither Russia nor Iran have publicly responded to the leak.

Several documents describe a trip to Iran in April 2023 by a delegation of Russian engineers to watch a demonstration of a new jet aircraft as well as a series of hunter-killer UAVs designed to destroy enemy drones.

Variants of the jet aircraft, named the MS-237, Shahed-238 and Shahed-236, were reported to have a top speed of about 400 mph — about three times faster than previous Iranian drones. Tehran revealed the existence of the new drone at an air show in November.
In the demonstration, of the unmanned aircraft – codenamed “motor boat” in its internal communications, the Russians say that “given its high speed, the boat is essentially a cruise missile.”

The test apparently helped cement a deal to acquire more than 600 Iranian-designed jet drones, most of them built on Russian soil with Iranian parts and assistance, according to the leaked emails. The documents also describe protracted negotiations over how Russia would pay for the drones. At least two tranches were to be given in the form of gold worth about $140 million.

The joint production of drones offers significant benefits for Iran, including the ability to assess their performance on the battlefields of Ukraine.