China will provide the Iranian Air Force with a total number of 24 F-10 Vigorous Dragon jets, the export version of the J-10, to equip its two fighter groups. The cost of a single J-10 is estimated at US$40 million, making the value of the deal around US$1 billion. This could be bartered through permitting Beijing 20 years of exploitation rights to the Azadegan oilfield.
With a range of 2,940 kilometers, the fighters are capable of defending Iran's entire airspace and that of the Persian Gulf.
Several Chinese military analysts believe the United States may not be happy about such a deal and China will face international pressure should Iran use the fighters in combat against US allies in the region. Others meanwhile pointed out that 24 fighters will not make a major difference to the strategic situation in the Middle East.
It has been alleged — though officially denied — that the J-10 was developed with technology provided by Israel. If this is the case, it would be somewhat ironic if that technology ends up in the hands of Israel's primary and avowed enemy in the region.
Pakistan is the first overseas customer for the J-10. Back in 2009, China agreed to sell 36 export version of the advanced J-10B fighters known as FC-20 to Pakistan in a contract worth US$$1.4 billion. The aircraft is designed to be equipped with new weapons system such as the SD-10A Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile. None of the aircraft have yet been delivered to the Pakistan Air Force, however.