Algeria may give surplus MiG-29M fighter jets to Sudan for free

A significant shift in the African defense landscape suggests a possible move by Algeria’s Defense Ministry to supply excess MiG-29 fighter jets, sourced from Russia, to the Sudanese Air Force. Remarkably, these jets already form the main combat aircraft of their force. 

Algeria may give surplus MiG-29M fighter jets to Sudan for free
Photo credit: Reddit

This news, although yet to be officially confirmed, follows five tumultuous years in the Eastern African nation. This period began with a coup in April 2019, in which President Omar Al Bashir, a highly respected military leader, was ousted by a coalition backed by Western powers. 

The subsequent years led to a division of Sudan’s military forces and a significant increase in external influences, particularly from Europe. This eventually sparked an internal conflict between the national armed forces and the reformed Janjaweed militia, now operating as the Rapid Intervention Forces, bolstered by strong patronage and financial support from the UAE.

Driven by an increase in support from Tehran towards the Sudanese Armed Forces, Algeria continues to offer its backing. This strategic shift nudges Khartoum closer to Algiers, owing to their mutual partnership with Iran and shared interest in military technology, including drones. This development is unfolding even as the United Arab Emirates remains a critical financial backer for anti-Algerian entities within West Africa. 

Recently, Algeria has surged to prominence as a significant player on the African continent, independent of the influence of Western powers. They have provided substantial aid to the Niger government in staving off a potential French invasion, while also rallying behind Mali’s campaign to expel French forces from their nation. 

Algeria’s Defence Ministry marked its official entry into the Air Force league with an inaugural order of 31 MiG-29 fighters in 1999; the delivery ensued the following year under a tripartite contract with Russia and Belarus. Initially, this class of fighters was expected to assume a markedly larger role within the Algerian Air Force. However, this vision shifted when the procurement of the more advanced MiG-29SMT fighters was halted in 2006, leading to these aircraft returning to Russia.

The Algerian Air Force has shown a strong preference for the heavyweight fighter Su-30MKA. This aircraft, although more expensive, showcases greater capabilities. Drawing comparisons, the Su-30MKA, currently the primary fighter jet of the Algerian Air Force with approximately 72 units in commission, outshines the smaller MiG-29. Similar in dimensions to the American F-18C/D, it vastly outclasses the F-16, the mainstay of NATO’s aerial forces. 

Serbia's Dassault Rafale ambition dashed by French objection - MiG-29 fighter Serbia
Photo credit: Serbian MoD

From 2020, Algeria has intensified the decommissioning of older MiG-29s. In their place, 14 advanced MiG-29M fighters and an extra 16 Su-30MKAs were introduced. In contrast with the original Soviet design, the MiG-29M adopts a drastically revised airframe design, providing a much more cost-effective and operationally efficient alternative. The procurement of these newer models, therefore, resulted in a surplus of older MiG-29s. 

Reputed as the most competent among any majority-Muslim nation, the Algerian Air Force is reportedly drawing up plans for further modernization. Expected later this decade is the acquisition of the Su-57 fifth-generation fighters.

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