in Defence / Features

$1.8bn Russian fighter deal for Algeria

Posted 24 February 2020 · Add Comment

A $1.8 billion order for 30 Russian aircraft will take Algeria’s fighter fleet numbers up to 74 – sufficient for six squadrons. Jon Lake reports.

Algeria’s chief of staff of the Air Force, Major General Hamid Boumaiza, signed for the supply of 14 Mikoyan MiG-29M/M2 and 16 Sukhoi Su-30MKA fighters at the 2019 MAKS Moscow Aerospace Exhibition.
The MiG-29M/M2s will replace the survivors of about 56 first generation MiG-29s purchased from Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine from 1999-2005. These aircraft originally equipped four squadrons of the 3ème Escadre de Défense Aérienne at Bou Sfer, Tindouf, Ouarghla and Bechar
However, today only the 193rd Squadron at Bou Sfer remains, and it is due to retire its MiGs this year.
An earlier attempt to replace the first generation MiG-29 failed when Algeria rejected a batch of 34 MiG-29SMTs after 15 had been received because they were based on old used airframes rather than new-build aircraft, as stipulated in the contract. The rejected airframes were then put into Russian service.
The MiG-29M (and two seat MiG-29M2) is an improved version of the MiG-29, with a lighter airframe, improved RD-33MK engines, increased internal fuel, an in-flight refuelling probe, and improved avionics and a full glass cockpit. It has a new infrared search-and-track (IRST) system with TV and laser channels, integrated with a new helmet-mounted target designation system. Forty-six have been supplied to Egypt.
The Su-30MKA is a variant of the tandem-seat, multi-role, two-seat Su-30MK, manufactured by Moscow’s JSC Irkut Corporation.
There are two families of Su-30, manufactured by competing factories within the United Aircraft Corporation, which also owns the Sukhoi Design Bureau: the JSC Irkut Corporation Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Plant (KnAAPO) and the Irkut Corporation.
The Irkut-built Su-30s include the Su-30MKI, Su-30MKM, and Su-30SM for India, Malaysia, and Russia respectively, as well as Algeria’s Su-30MKA.
These aircraft feature canard foreplanes, Lyulka-Saturn AL-31FP turbofan engines with thrust-vectoring nozzles, and a long-range NIIP N011M Bars passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radar, capable of tracking multiple airborne targets and targeting four simultaneously.
The Su-30MKA is sometimes referred to as the Su-30MKI(A) in official Sukhoi documentation. It is broadly based on the Indian Su-30MKI, but has a secure datalink allowing it to exchange data with the Algerian Air Force’s Yak-130 advanced trainers and light-attack aircraft.
The Su-30MKI’s Israeli avionics and systems were replaced by Russian, French and South African alternatives. Thus, the aircraft uses a Thales Damocles laser designator pod and Navflir and other avionics equipment and displays manufactured by the Thales Group and Sagem.
Russia supplies some replacement equipment, including the electronic warfare (EW) system, the optical-location system (OLS) and some cockpit equipment.
SAAB Avitronics of South Africa provides the aircraft’s MAW-300 missile approach warning system (MAWS), the RWS-50 RWR and laser warning sensor (LWS).
Algeria’s Su-30MKAs were ordered in batches from 2006. The first batch of 28 were delivered between December 2007 and November 2009, with pairs of aircraft being transported to Algeria on board Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft. They were assembled in country by specialists from Irkut (IAZ) and then flown by Russian test pilots.
Algerian pilots were trained at Zhukhovskii, near Moscow (where two of the Algerian Su-30MKIs were temporarily based).
Test and evaluation trials began at Oum El-Bouaki Airfield in November 2008, when the first 12 aircraft had been delivered to Algeria. From 2009, the aircraft began to re-equip the 12e Escadre de Defense Aerienne (12th Air Defence Wing), which eventually had single Su-30MKA squadrons at Aïn Beida, Ouargla, Tamanrasset, and Reggan.
The first four aircraft were delivered in a two-tone camouflage scheme, and may have been designated Su-30MKA(R) or Su-30MKR, perhaps indicating a reconnaissance and electronic warfare commitment.
A further batch of 16 Su-30MKA was agreed in April 2010, these aircraft being supplied in place of 34 Mi-29SMTs, which Algeria was unhappy with and refused to accept. This took the Algerian Su-30MKA force to 44 aircraft.
 

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