Algeria Buys More Su-30MKs as Iranian Interest Grows

 - September 21, 2015, 1:25 PM
An Su-30MK performs at the MAKS airshow near Moscow recently. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport is executing a follow-on contract from Algeria for 14 more Sukhoi Su-30MKA multirole fighters. Meanwhile, according to media reports in Moscow, Iran is negotiating a deal that would see Su-30MK production in the country under license.

Sergei Chemezov, general director of Rostec corporation, which controls Rosoboronexport, revealed the latest Algerian order during his visit to the Irkutsk Aircraft Plant (IAZ) on September 11. He said that the contract was signed in April, and that the airplanes are already being built. This will be the fourth Su-30MK batch for Algeria, and bring the grand total to 56 aircraft. The North African country opted for the type in February-March 2006, ordering 16 aircraft. Eight were shipped in late 2007 and the rest between March and June 2008.

The second batch was a product of heated discussions between Russia and Algeria, when the latter refused to accept MiG-29SMT lightweight multirole fighters supplied by RAC MiG, complaining about their quality of manufacture. In the end, the two sides agreed to cancel the MiG deal and instead go for an additional 10 Su-30MKAs. These were shipped in 2011.

Algeria subsequently awarded Rosoboronexport a contract for 16 more Su-30MKAs for shipment by 2012.

Reportedly, the Algerian air force has been happier with its Sukhois than with the MiGs. In part, this is due to the fact that the Yakovlev Yak-130A weaponized jet trainers also produced by IAZ and purchased by Algeria proved a good training platform for Algerian fighter pilots. The customer is understood to have received 16 Yak-130s in 2011 and signed for more in 2013/2014, but details of the follow-on deal have yet to emerge.

The Su-30MKA is customized version of the baseline Su-30MK, with minor differences from the Indian air force Su-30MKI, with the biggest change being replacement of Israeli-made items, such as an El-Op head-up display, with Russian and Indian analogues. In addition , the Su-30MKA can exchange data with the Yak-130 though a secure radio datalink. Like all Su-30MKs, the Su-30MKA is powered by a pair of Lyuka-Saturn AL-31FP turbofans with moving nozzles, which allows for “super maneuverability,” a distinct feature of Sukhoi fighters: retaining control at very high angles of attack and speeds close to zero. The aircraft is equipped with the N-011M Bars radar with passive phase array (PESA) antenna, capable of tracking multiply airborne targets and shooting at four of them at a time with radar-guided missiles. With gross weight of 34.5 tons, the Su-30MKA carries up to 8 tons of weapons load on 12 hard-points.

The success of the Su-30MK series in India and Algeria has attracted attention of Iran. It is seeking to buy Russian combat jets following the nuclear inspection deal. Russian media spoke to some unidentified sources in the Iranian delegation to MAKS’2015 airshow held in late August in Zhukovsky near Moscow. “Iran would like to move from direct purchases of Russian equipment to co-development and license production,” one of them was quoted as saying. “Since Russia has amassed some positive experience with the Su-30MKI license production in India, we can make use of that experience,” he added.