The Algerian Air Force (AAF) is 'close' to sealing a long-discussed deal to purchase 14 units of Russia’s never-before-exported Su-34 medium-range fighter-bomber jets.
Multiple sources are stated to have told Menadefence that in January 2021, the production of the first batch of six Su-34s for Algeria has started. This batch must be ready before the end of 2021 and will be used for the training of Algerian Instructor pilots and maintenance personnel. Training will start in Russia from early 2022. The rest of the fourteen Su-34s will be delivered in 2022 and 2023.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has ordered some 20 Sukhoi Su-34 long range fighter-bombers from Sukhoi Company-known in Russia as ‘duckling’ for their unique nose design.
The order involves standard Su-34 aircraft with “certain alterations” based on the experience of the operation of several dozen aircraft in exercises and in combat over Syria, TASS said quoting sources from Sukhoi Aircraft Company, which manufacturs the Su-34. Another contract for the purchase of upgraded Su-34M planes is expected to be signed in 2021.
The ‘production for Algeria’ which several Middle East based media outlets referred to could be part of the 20 Su-34 for domestic Russian requirement.
There is no confirmation of either negotiations or a possible deal between Russia and Algeria. Russian Federal Military-Technical Cooperation (FMTC) which generally leads pre-sales negotiations has not commented on the current status of any Algeria-Russia deal for Su-34 jets.
Various media report said that Russia and Algeria came to an “acceptable deal” on the Su-34 jets after nearly eight years. Reports of an AAF- Russia deal for Su-34 jets have emerged in 2020 but none of them have been confirmed by either the FMTC or Rosobornexport, which is responsible for commercial transactions.
Algeria seems to be the favorite ‘ghost’ buyer of Russian armaments. Earlier reports said Algeria has signed a contract to buy 14 Russian Sukhoi Su-57 bombers in 2020. Middle-east based media outlets quoted Russia's Sputnik as saying that the government of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune had bought the fighter aircrafts from Russia for nearly $2 billion. The reports turned out to be unfounded.
Scramble Magazine assesses that the Algerian variant will be called the Su-34ME and it is expected that the main difference between the version used by Russia, and the "ME" version acquired by Algeria, will be the Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) and other communications systems. The rest will be the same including the various weapons which were also tested and evaluated in and over Syria.