The Angolan Air Force will begin receiving the first of 12 upgraded Su-30K fighter jets from Russia this year, with deliveries set to conclude in late 2016 or early 2017.
This is according to a military-diplomatic source quoted by IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, who said the first batch of fighters would be upgraded this year. They are being worked on at the 558th Aviation Repair Plant at Baranovichi in Belarus.
In October 2013 it was reported that Angola had purchased 18 former Indian Air Force Su-30Ks from Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport as part of a $1 billion arms deal involving the fighters, spares and other hardware. However, in February last year Irkut Corporation clarified that only 12 aircraft were involved in the deal.
The aircraft were formerly operated by the Indian Air Force, which has ordered more than 200 Su-30MKIs in a number of batches. The early models delivered were basic aircraft without features like canards and thrust vector controls, and it is these 18 early model aircraft (ten Su-30MK and eight Su-30K fighters delivered between May 1997 and December 1999) that were returned to Russia and replaced with more advanced Su-30MKIs.
India had intended to upgrade these early aircraft but instead used them as part-exchange for new aircraft. According to Air Forces Daily, they were retired in 2006 and sent to the 558th Aircraft Repair Plant at Baranovichi in Belarus between August and November 2011. They remain at Baranovichi as the property of Irkut Corporation, which said the remaining six will be sold to another country.
The Angolan Air Force currently flies around half a dozen Su-27s, out of 18 originally delivered. It also has other Sukhoi aircraft in its inventory, notably the Su-22 and Su-24.
Angola is ramping up defence spending, with its military expenditure projected to increase from the current $6.5 billion to $13 billion by 2019 due to increased demand for border security equipment, fighter jets, multi-role aircraft, helicopters, navy vessels and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
In a new report entitled “Future of the Angolan Defence Industry – Market Attractiveness, Competitive Landscape and Forecasts to 2019,” US-based defence market analysts Market Research said Angolan defence spending will be driven by the need to modernise and improve the operational capabilities of all three wings of the Armed Forces of Angola (FAA) and a desire to increase the number of serving troops while embarking on new veterans care projects.
Last year the Angolan defence ministry announced plans to acquire new helicopters, navy vessels and weapons for ground troops. The new hardware will be operated by pilots and experts who have completed their respective training programmes in Russia, Cuba and Brazil. For example, the Angolan Navy will receive seven Macae-class patrol boats from Brazil. Four of these will be built in Brazil and the other three in Angola. The Air Force in January 2013 received the first three of six Embraer Super Tucano light attack/trainer aircraft from Brazil.