While speculations over the latest, fifth-generation Russian stealth jets – Su-57 have not even settled, there is a lot of murmur over the potential exports of the latest Russian fighters. The first customer of Su-57 jets outside Russia would not be Moscow’s strongest allies – India or China – rather a country in Africa.
According to the reports by Russia’s Avia.pro, “Algeria is currently in fairly active negotiations with Russia to acquire 12 Su-57 fighters with the possibility of increasing the order to 24 combat aircraft,” pointing out to the first export of the new aircraft. Other defence sites claim the number to be 14 instead of 12 jets.
The move comes as a result of yet another arms race fueled by the cold-war era strategies of arming rival countries by the United States and Soviet Union (now Russia), as Washington has recently been overt in its support to Algeria’s rival and neighbour – Morocco.
The Algerian Su-57 deal is initially expected to cost $2 billion. However, it has not been officially confirmed by either of the two countries.
Raising skepticism over the deal, US experts have criticized the ‘stealth jet’ and stated that the Su-57 still lacks key avionic features compared to western F-22 or F-35. The National Interest, a US magazine, reported that the Su-57 was not ready for export because the development of the fighter was slowed by lack of funding and the collapse of Russia’s co-development and production deal with India.
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. An additional contract for 14 Su-34s and 14 Su-35s is also signed – and Su-57 is on the list too.
Earlier, the US had approved the sale of Block 70/72 F-16 jets to rival Morocco in addition to the modernization of 23 F-16s already part of the Moroccan Air Force. Morocco would be among a few nations that will acquire AMRAAM missiles from the Raytheon in a contract worth $768 million and expected to be completed by February 2023.
The Su-57 fighter jet is designed to have supercruise, supermaneuverability, and advanced avionics to overcome the prior generation fighter jet as well as ground and naval defenses.
The jet features stealth technology with the broad use of composite materials and is capable of developing supersonic cruising speed and is furnished with the most advanced onboard radio-electronic equipment, including a powerful onboard computer, the radar system spread across its body and some other innovations, in particular, armament placed inside its fuselage.