Armenia’s Defense Ministry on Monday confirmed that it has purchased four multirole fighter jets from Russia and hinted at more such acquisitions in the future.
The ministry spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisian, insisted that the Sukhoi Su-30SM jets will significantly strengthen the Armenian armed forces. Getting hold of four of them is “not our final desire,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s government showed a strong interest in acquiring such aircraft shortly after taking office in May last year. Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan said in December that Moscow and Yerevan are now close to signing a relevant contract.
Hovannisian said that the delivery of the four jets will mark the “initial phase of the contract.” “That such multirole, heavy and powerful fighter jets can change the military balance [in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict] regardless of their number -- and four is not our final desire -- is obvious,” he said.
“In any case, even four [Su-30SM jets] can make a difference,” added the official.
The Armenian Air Force has had no fighter jets until now. It currently consists of 15 or so low-flying Su-25 jets designed for air-to-ground missions.
The Russian newspaper “Kommersant” reported on Friday that Yerevan will buy four Su-30SMs at internal Russian prices set well below international market-based levels and use a Russian loan to pay for them. It did not specify their total price.
Hovannisian refused to disclose the cost of the acquisition, saying that that is “classified information.”He also stressed that Armenia is eligible for major discounts in arms deals with Russia because of its membership in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).