Myanmar will acquire six Sukhoi Su-30 fighters, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced after Russian defence minister Sergey Shoigu visited Myanmar as part of his three-country Southeast Asia tour. The MoD did not say whether a contract had yet been signed or when deliveries might be made.
When acquired, the Sukhoi Su-30 will be the Myanmar Air Force’s (MAF) most capable fighter platform, after the MiG-29B and the PAC/CAC JF-17 Thunder. Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam already fly the Su-30.
China has been the main supplier of combat aircraft for Myanmar. It supplied the Chengdu F-7M and Nanchang A-5C since the start of the 1990s. Reportedly, a sole Shenyang FT-6M (Chinese-built MiG-19UB) is also still in service. Russia supplied 31 MiG-29s, including six newer MiG-29SE models between 2001 and 2012.
In 2015, as part of MAF’s fleet modernization, Myanmar ordered 16 JF-17 Thunders and a dozen Yakovlev Yak-130 trainers. Six Yak-130s were delivered and participated in the MAF 70th anniversary celebration last December. Although a JF-17 for the MAF was seen conducting test flights in China in the middle of last year, there were no reports that any were delivered in time for the December event.
Shoigu met with Myanmar’s commander-in-chief of defence services senior general Min Aung Hlaing. The two countries signed a military cooperation agreement in 2016. At press time, Shoigu has completed a visit to Laos. He will end his trip in Vietnam.