Armenia may increase its order for Su-30SM fighter jets beyond the four slated for delivery next year.
Answering a question from reporters on February 13 about a possible buy of more Su-30SMs, Armenian Defense Minister David Tonoyan said, “Yes, we do not plan to be limited only by four units of this type of military equipment.”
Russia and Armenia inked the contract for four jets earlier in 2019. In order to acquire them, Armenia is utilizing Russian-provided loans. Moscow offered the jets at domestic preferential rates rather than the usual rate offered for exports.
Defense Minister Tonoyan praised the fighter jet, noting, “Today, Su-30SM are the best modern multifunctional fighters, and this is why we wish to acquire them.” About the four jets on order, the defense minister said they “will be delivered to the country within the deadline stipulated in the agreement.” Russian and Armenian media have previously reported that the four aircraft should arrive before the end of 2020.
The defense minister did not indicate how many jets Armenia is ultimately looking for – though in years past, Yerevan had been interested in as many as 12 jets. For a follow-on order, Armenia would likely seek to use a loan to finance part of the purchase. However, Defense Minister Tonoyan did not indicate whether the defense ministry is actively involved in negotiations on a follow-on order.
The Su-30SM is manufactured by Irkut Corporation, at its plant in Irkutsk. The fighter jet is capable of carrying air-to-air and air-to-surface armaments, though details on weapons purchased under the agreement with Armenia have not been disclosed.