YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Armenia wants to buy a total of 12 multirole fighter jets from Russia and will likely receive four of them within a year, Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan said on Monday.
The Armenian Defense Ministry confirmed earlier this month the signing of a Russian-Armenian contract on the delivery of four Sukhoi Su-30SM jets to the South Caucasus country’s Armed Forces. Tonoyan said last week that Yerevan will seek to acquire more such aircraft.
“We are continuing to negotiate on the delivery of the next batch of Su-30SMs,” Tonoyan told the RIA Novosti news agency during a visit to the United Arab Emirates. “Everything will depend on how quickly these products will be manufactured. There are some issues with import substitution [by Russia] and so on.”
“We are planning to get the first batch this year or the beginning of next year at the latest,” he said, adding that the Armenian military’s objective is to have a full squadron consisting of 12 of Russian-made warplanes.
Su-30SM is a modernized version of a heavy fighter jet developed by the Sukhoi company in the late 1980s. The Russian military commissioned the first batch of such aircraft in 2012.
Financial details of the fighter jet deal remain unknown. The Russian newspaper “Kommersant” reported on February 1 that the Armenian government will use a Russian loan to buy the sophisticated jets at a discounted price. It did not specify their total price.
Russia lent Armenia $200 million for arms acquisitions in 2015. The weapons delivered to the Armenian military under that deal include, among other things, multiple-launch rocket systems, anti-tank rockets, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, and army radios.
Yerevan secured another Russian loan, worth $100 million, for further arms acquisitions in 2017. It is still not clear what types of Russian military hardware will be purchased with that loan.
According to RIA Novosti, Tonoyan did not rule out the possibility of a third Russian government loan to Yerevan. The minister cautioned that it is “too early to talk about” the types of weaponry which would be bought with it.