Iranian drones - Kremlin's Vergeltungswaffen?

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That's kind of a uneven exchange. Russia must be frightened of using their aircraft and feel that the drones are more effective.
Doesn't say much for their Air Force.

I got the number wrong. Also, the planes aren't coming out of Russian AF stocks:

During the past week, Persian media claimed that Iran will soon receive 24 Su-35 heavy fighters, and that their pilots have been training in Russia for some time. In return, Moscow would receive massive quantities of Iranian drones and ballistic missiles for use in its war against Ukraine.

The information that Iran had turned to Russia to modernize its Armed Forces has been circulating since at least the end of 2021 and the Su-35 was always among the central items of an eventual defense agreement.

The origin of these fighter jets dates to 2018, when Egypt signed the contract for the purchase of 24 Su-35SE for an approximate amount of USD 3 billion. The official confirmation took place only in 2020.

Egypt's original idea was to acquire the Lockheed Martin F-35 fifth-generation multi-role fighter, but the US authorities made it clear to them that the Lightning II was not available to them. By way of pressure, they went for the best fighter available in the competitive market, the SU-35.

The US countered with threats of economic sanctions under CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act – an US law created to retaliate against adversaries through sanctions). Among several possible repercussions, the operability of Egypt's fleet of more than 200 F-16s, dozens of AH-64 Apache helicopters, and hundreds of M-1 Abrams tanks would be at risk, so Cairo decided to shelve the purchase. Finally, Egypt would buy the French Rafale fighter.


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