Armenia’s Air Force will receive more Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter jets from Russia soon, Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan said on Tuesday.
Four such multirole jets were delivered to an airbase in Gyumri late last month less than a year after the signing of a relevant Russian-Armenian contract. Financial and other terms of the deal are still not known.
Tonoyan said in February that Yerevan plans to buy eight more Su-30SMs in the coming years.
The minister was asked on Tuesday by reporters when the next batch of the advanced warplanes will be delivered to Armenia. “Soon,” he replied. He did not elaborate.
The Armenian Air Force had no fighter jets until this year. It largely consisted of 15 or so low-flying Su-25 aircraft designed for air-to-ground missions.
Su-30SM can perform a much broader range of military tasks with more long-range and precision-guided weapons. It is a modernized version of a heavy fighter jet developed by the Sukhoi company in the late 1980s. The Russian military first commissioned such jets in 2012.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian described their acquisition as a “turning point for the security of Armenia” when he spoke at the Gyumri airbase on December 27. He also noted that the Armenian military has received the “first batch” of Su-30SMs.
According to Tonoyan and Pashinian, Armenia also acquired large quantities of other Russian-made weapons in the course of 2019. Those include sophisticated Tor-M2MK air-defense systems. The Defense Ministry in Yerevan has said that they will “considerably” strengthen Armenia’s air defenses.
Russia has always been the principal source of military hardware supplied to the Armenian army. Membership in Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) allows Armenia to acquire Russian weapons at knockdown prices and even for free.