US sanctions shift production of Russian attack helicopters to the Middle East.

Unsurprisingly, the Ukrainian war will reshape military cooperation around the world. Weak military ties will also tighten. The appearance of new axes is outlined in a scenario that draws more military conflicts. 

According to international political analysts, the war between Ukraine and Russia is the beginning of a series of regional wars. They also believe a major war between Taiwan and China could be on the way.

The West responded to the Russian impasse of February 24, 2022, with a series of economic sanctions. Today they continue influencing the Russian economy. The Russian military industry is large, but it is already forced to look for new partners. The sanctions reorganize the political layers and awaken sleeping alliances.

Iran and Russia have been getting closer for a year. Amid a devastating war and a change in Russian tactics, Tehran is supplying missiles and drones to Moscow. Iran was allowed to upgrade its Air Force inventory. 

The Russian flagship in aerial weapons, Su-35 Flanker-E, will land with 24 units at the airports of the Islamic republic. It seems that this is only the beginning.

The meeting on January 23

The heads of the two legislative bodies of Russia and Iran met. On January 23, Vyacheslav Volodin, Chairman of the Russian DUMA, was received in Tehran. His hosts for him were his colleague Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, and Ebrahim Raisi, President of the Republic of Iran.

According to the Tasnim News news agency, Iran and Russia have paved the way for solid military cooperation. The delivery of Su-35 fighters is just the beginning. Moscow writes Tasnim News, ready to produce its attack helicopters with Iran. Iranian media cites two models of helicopters: Mil Mi-28 and Kamov Ka-52 Alligator.

Iranian commanders, Tasnim News writes, are monitoring the performance of the two helicopters in the war with Ukraine. “The Mil-28 and Kamov-52 helicopters are suitable options for the land and sea forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” an editorial in the Iranian news agency states.

Why is Russia seeking co-production?

It must be borne in mind that, for the moment, only signs of joint production of Russian attack helicopters are coming from Iran. That is, it is still a speculative opinion.

However, Russia is beginning to feel the effects of Western sanctions. First of all, they have influenced the production of tanks. Russia is upgrading its tanks and sending them to Ukraine, but not with new technology. 

Parts from other tanks are used to repair and maintain damaged tanks. And the new ones that are produced are equipped with technologies from more than 30 years ago.

Helicopters are one of the most lost weapons in Ukraine. The situation of their maintenance and repair is analogous to that of tanks. Western sanctions prevent the Russian arms industry from accessing chips, integrated circuits, and semiconductors. 

More components serve to improve the lethality of the weapons used by the helicopters. Logically, Moscow is looking for an alternative. Logically, Iran remains one of Russia’s few friends and a provider of similar technologies. How good they are is another matter.

Why does Iran need helicopters?

Iran has been subject to a strict and powerful arms embargo, which fell 24 months ago. But Iran has not had access to new weapons systems in the last decade. The industry was forced to fend for itself by developing alternatives.

 Very often, Tehran relied on Russia to deliver captured technology to Syria for Iranian engineers to copy. The same is happening today, as there are reports that Russia is sending captured Western weapons to Iran for investigation.

Shahed 285 and Shahed 218 domestically produced helicopter projects do not go ahead. According to Tansim News, they do not meet Iranian requirements. This is the official version. The unofficial version is that, without outside intervention, Tehran cannot produce its own plans.

AH1-J Cobra
AH1-J Cobra

At the same time, the modernization of the AH1-J Cobra helicopters is not being carried out either. In general, this modernization is difficult. Iran acquired them from the United States before the Iranian revolution. The United States stopped producing them three years ago. Replacement parts are no longer manufactured. The AH1-J Cobra is Iran’s only combat helicopter.

Why Russia and not China?

It must be recognized that Iran is in a favorable position. With the fall of the arms embargo, the doors to the supply of weapons were opened. Iran can’t buy the West, so the East is more acceptable. Iran can afford to choose Russia or China as its arms supplier in this region.

Iran turned to Russia. We asked a local military expert why Tehran would take such a step. China is also a very good option for Iran. According to our expert, if it weren’t for the war in Ukraine, Iran would have been on the verge of buying weapons from China.

Getting Russia into a war means that Moscow will need the finances, weapons, and components to support those weapons. “Tehran acted very wisely because it opened an opportunity not only to buy Russia but to negotiate the exchange of technology. Moscow needs missiles, bombs, ammunition, and drones. 

Therefore, he is more inclined to negotiate a joint cooperation”, was the comment. “Geopolitically, the war with Ukraine forced Russia to withdraw part of its equipment and troops from Syria. This opened a vacuum, which Iran is currently filling. This is the beginning of cooperation in the next decade”, added the expert.

What will Iran receive?

Mi-28 and Ka-52 helicopters are good options for Tehran. Not because they are the best in their class but because they are the best technologies available to Iran.

Two 2,500-horsepower turboshaft engines power both helicopters. 30mm guns are perfectly suited for assault attacks against ground targets. These helicopters are suitable for supporting ground forces. Under their wings, they can carry 80mm and 122mm rockets and anti-tank guided missiles.

The Mi-28 and Ka-52 use thermally guided missiles for anti-aircraft defense. Helicopters can be upgraded by integrating external fuel tanks. This will certainly increase your reach. Night vision systems are at a good level. The communication systems are also modern. Both helicopters can carry and launch UAVs.

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