YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenia will buy more Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter jets from Russia after receiving the first batch of such aircraft, according to Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan.
The Defense Ministry in Yerevan confirmed last week the signing of a Russian-Armenian contract on the delivery of four Su-30SMs to the Armenian Armed Forces. A ministry spokesman hinted at more such acquisitions in the near future.
“Yes, we will not content ourselves with the four planes,” Tonoyan told reporters on Wednesday. He described Su-30SM as the “best modern multirole fighter jet” of its kind.
The Armenian Air Force has had no fighter jets until now. It currently consists of 15 or so low-flying Su-25 jets designed for air-to-ground missions.
The Russian newspaper “Kommersant” reported on February 1 that Yerevan will use a Russian loan to buy four Su-30SMs at internal Russian prices set well below international market-based levels. It did not specify their total price.
The Armenian Defense Ministry has refused to disclose the cost of the acquisition, saying that that is “classified information.”
Tonoyan made the comments five days after his latest visit to Moscow during which he met with Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and the head of a Russian government agency overseeing arms deals with foreign states.
Tonoyan’s office said that he and Shoygu discussed, among other things, supplies of Russian-made “state-of-the-art and precision-guided weapons” which would give the Armenian military “preventive superiority” over its adversaries. It did not elaborate.
The Russian Defense Ministry noted the “friendly and constructive character” of the talks between the two ministers. It said Shoygu thanked Armenia for its “humanitarian assistance” to Syria.
The talks came as Armenia deployed 83 army medics, demining experts and other military personnel to Syria.