Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) announced on 25 July that it had reactivated and upgraded 10 Sukhoi Su-22 aircraft.
Iranian media outlets reported that IRGC commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari and IRGC Aerospace Force commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh had attended a ceremony to mark the aircraft’s return to service. They cited Brig Gen Hajizadeh as saying the Su-22s can launch guided air-to-ground munitions and air-to-air missiles, as well as share data with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). He added that there is a plan to arm them with cruise missiles with a range of 1,500 km.
Iranian television showed footage of the Su-22s at a location that could be identified as the IRGC airbase next to Shiraz International Airport. The base was used by the IRGC’s Su-25s before they were transferred to Iraq in 2014: a donation that left the force without any fast jets until now.
The television coverage showed five Su-22s flying together and one on the ground carrying a targeting pod and what appeared to be a laser-guided munition that may have been a Bina. Unveiled in 2014, the Bina looks like a US AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missile fitted with a semi-active laser seeker. At that time, it was seen being launched by one of the IRGC’s Su-25s.
The work on the Su-22s was reportedly done by Iranian experts without foreign assistance, which would have violated the sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic by the UN Security Council.
In the past, former Soviet repair plants were involved in assisting Iran with maintenance of its Russian-made equipment.
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