Algeria has reportedly signed a contract to purchase 14 Russian Su-57 fighters, becoming the first customer of the fifth-generation stealth jets outside Russia. Jay Menon reports.
Image: Sukhoi Company.
Russia’s Sputnik News reports that the Abdelmadjid Tebboune government bought the fighters from Moscow for nearly US$2 billion.
Russia is expected to start the deliveries from 2025.
Algeria has been in active negotiations with Russia to acquire 12 to 14 Su-57 fighters with the possibility of increasing the order to 24 combat aircraft, Sputnik says.
Algeria’s decision to buy the aircraft from Russia comes as a result of a U.S. decision to sell Algeria’s rival and neighbour Morocco 25 F-16C/D Block 72 fighters. The U.S. will also upgrades Morocco’s 23 existing F‑16s to the more advanced F‑16V Block 52+ configuration at a total estimated cost of US$4.8 billion.
Morocco and Algeria share cold relations due to several political issues, including Algiers’ position on Western Sahara.
The Algerian Air Force currently operates Su-30MKA and MiG-29 as its primary combat aircraft, and Su-24 and Mig-25 for attack and intercepting roles.
Algeria is one of the leading arms clients of Russia, which supplies 67 per cent of Algiers’ weapons.
The Su-57 aircraft has been in development since 2002 and is considered a key part of Russia’s arms export industry as a fifth-generation fighter to compete with rival systems such as America’s F-35 aircraft.
Ryan Bauer, a defence analyst, said:“Despite continued Russian efforts to sell the aircraft, it is unlikely that a fully developed and full production–ready Su-57 will be available for sale before the late 2020s. Even fully developed, the Su-57 will likely have attributes of another modernized fourth-generation heavy fighter bomber, the F-15EX, lacking in the LO features of the F-35 but having an all azimuth sensing capacity of that fifth-generation combat aircraft.”