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  • RSK MiG near to deal with Algeria

RSK MiG near to deal with Algeria

Country turns down Rosboronexport-backed package from Sukhoi for offer from rival and may follow with avionics deal

Algeria is expected to sign a $2 billion contract with Russia's RSK MiG for the delivery of around 50 MiG-29M1/M2 multirole fighters and MiG-AT advanced jet trainers, following almost three years of negotiations. The country had been offered two packages - one comprising the MiGdesigns and Ilyushin Il-103 piston trainers; and another with Sukhoi Su-30MK fighters, Yakovlev Yak-130 advanced jet trainer/light-attack aircraft and Yak-152 ab initio trainers.

Brokered by Russia's Rosoboronexport state armaments agency, the Sukhoi package had initially been favoured, but Algeria is understood to have opted for the less expensive proposal from RSK MiG, which unlike Sukhoi has permission to export weapons without Rosoboronexport involvement. Industry sources say the MiG package is up to 30% cheaper due to the MiG-29's lower unit cost against the larger Su-30, and will benefit from India's recent selection of 16 MiG-29K/KUBcarrier-borne fighters.

Algeria is also considering awarding RSK MiG a contract to modernise the avionics equipment on its MiG-23 fighters to achieve a common standard with its new aircraft, which are likely to be equipped with Phazotron-NIIR Zhuk-ME radars, PrNK-29 weapons targeting systems and fully digital flight controls from Elekroavtomatika.

If concluded, the deal will signify the restoration of large-scale military-technical co-operation between Moscow and Algeria, which has previously purchased Soviet and Russian weapons worth $11 billion. Recent business has been limited, however, to cover the delivery of a number of surplus Russian air force Sukhoi Su-24MK bombers and the upgrade of its in-service Su-24s. Algeria has around 30 MiG-29S/UB fighters that it acquired in the late 1990s.

The deal would also signify the first export success for the MiG-AT, which acquired Russian military certification on 26 February. This achievement will enable RSK MiG to launch production of the aircraft for both domestic and export use, says MiG-AT chief designer Vasily Shtykalo. The aircraft is available with either Russian or French avionics, while an alternative to its current Turbomeca-Snecma Larzac engine could be available in the form of Russia's developmental TMKB TRD-1700.

The export variant of the trainer is available under a co-operative programme with France's Snecma and Thales, which respectively hold 25% and 15% interests in the project. "The aircraft is a joint high-tech product that we are ready to offer to third countries," said Russian defence minister Sergei Ivanov during an official visit to France earlier this month.