Armenia will receive its Su-30SM fighter jets by early next year.
While on a visit to Russia this week, Armenian Defense Minister David Tonoyan told reporters that the Su-30SM – which Armenia ordered earlier this year – should be delivered by early 2020. He said, “Four aircraft will be delivered in the first stage by the end of the year or the beginning of 2020.” He added that an initial payment of an unspecified amount for the aircraft had already been sent to Russia.
Defense Minister Tonoyan met with the director general of Rosoboronexport, Alexander Mikheev, during his visit and the two said in a statement that they agreed to develop bilateral cooperation.
Yerevan placed an order for four Su-30SMs earlier in 2019, which will help the country in beginning to update the aircraft in service with the Air Force. Defense Minister Tonoyan has indicated that Armenia will buy more Su-30SMs down the road. In February 2019, he responded to a question about further purchases, “Yes, we do not plan to be limited only by four units of this type of military equipment.”
He described the contract as a “first stage” this week in Moscow, providing more confirmation that Armenia will increase the number of Su-30SMs on order in the future. Armenia is generally believed to be seeking up to a dozen Su-30SMs in total.
Though Armenia has a requirement to replace aging fighter jets currently in service, the country’s small defense budget has hampered wide-scale procurement. Even so, Russia has extended hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of loans in recent years to assist the country in procuring from the Russian defense industry. It is presumed that Armenia has made use of loan financing to cover some of the cost of the Su-30SM buy.