Algerian Air Forces Command Two Fighter Squadrons in Russia

According to the Algerian site menadefense.net, the Algerian authorities signed, during the MAKS2019 exhibition, two contracts with the Russian aeronautical industry for the modernization of its air force. The first contract would concern the acquisition of a squadron (18 aircraft?) of Mig-29 M/M2 intended to replace, in all probability, the Mig-29K recently withdrawn from service. The second contract, visibly more confidential, would concern the acquisition of a new squadron of Su-30 fighters, as well as the modernization of the fleet of aircraft already in service. However, we do not know the scope of this modernization, nor if it corresponds to the modernization announced by the Russian air forces, aimed at bringing the performance and maintenance of the Su30 and Su35 closer together. The amount of the two contracts, like the delivery times, are currently unknown.

The transition from the Mig-29 S to the Mig-29 M will constitute a significant gain in performance for the Algerian air forces. Indeed, the Mig-29 M, although not new, carries modern avionics, and in particular the PESA Zhuk-M radar capable of tracking up to 10 targets at a distance of up to 120 km. In addition, the device has a powerful IRST (infra-red detection system) and a helmet viewfinder. Its engine, an improved version of the RD-33, offers greater thrust and considerably reduces the smoke trail of older jet engines, while its lifespan is extended to 4000 flight hours. The device can, finally, receive thrust vector flow directors, if requested by the customer. But the main characteristic of the Mig 29 M remains the increase in its range, going from 500 to 1000 km excluding additional tanks, and to 3000 km once equipped with the 3 additional tanks provided, because this was the main weakness of the Soviet apparatus. It also has an in-flight refueling boom.

Mig29M cokpit Defense News | Algeria | Fighter aircraft
The cockpit of the Mig 29M has nothing to envy of that of many modern Western aircraft

It is interesting to note that while Mig is trying more than anything commercially to place its Mig-35, the ultimate version of the Mig29 equipped with latest generation avionics and in particular an AESA radar, it is the Mig 29M, more old, but less expensive, which was chosen both by Algeria and by Egypt which ordered 48 aircraft in 2017, and by India which plans to acquire a squadron quickly. It must be said that the Mig 29 M is priced at $25 million for export, whereas the Mig 35 is priced at almost double that. Mig could be well inspired to focus on this category of “Low Cost” but high performance devices. Let us recall, for comparison, that a Pilatus PC-21, the turboprop training aircraft chosen, among others, by the Air Force for the training of pilots in pre-fighter specialization, costs nearly $10 million per unit, and that an F16V, with performances very close to those of the Mig29 M, exceeds $65 million. In fact, two F16Vs do not do the work of 5 Mig-29 M, nor can they have the upper hand over these devices.

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