Russian confirms Egypt as North African buyer of 50 MiG-29s


The Russian Commission for Military Technical Cooperation has confirmed Egypt as the North African buyer of 50 MiG-29M fighter jets and released fresh details of the Egyptian purchase of several other weapons systems worth at least $5 billion in 2015.

In February Russian officials confirmed the sale of 50 MiG-29M fighter jets to a North African country but declined to identify the buyer.

Rosoboronexport signed the deal in April 2015, and expects to deliver the first two aircraft this year. RAC MiG deputy director general Alexey Beskibalov in February said deliveries should be completed by 2020.

The MiG-29M (and two seat MiG-29M2) is an improved version of the MiG-29 featuring longer range due to increased internal fuel, a lighter airframe, slightly more powerful and improved RD-33MK engines, an in-flight refuelling probe, multi-function displays in the cockpit and improved avionics.

In a report submitted to Russian President Vladmir Putin during its last session that was held in the city of Nizhny Novgrod last week, the Commission said Egypt was one of the biggest customers of Russian weaponry in 2015, ordering MiG-29Ms, Buk-M2E (SA-SA-17 Grizzly) and Antey-2500 (SA-23 Gladiator/Giant) missile systems and 46 Ka-52 helicopters worth a combined $5 billion. Deliveries are expected to start this year.

The report also detailed Algerian defence acquisitions in 2015, which included the delivery of six Mi-26T heavy lift helicopters, Pantsir S-1 air defence systems, T-90 tanks and modernised BMP-2 vehicles. According to the report, Algeria is negotiating for the acquisition of additional aircraft, aerial defence systems and aircraft self-protection systems. The country is due to take delivery of additional Mi-26T2s and Mi-28NE helicopters this year.

According to the Commission report, excerpts of which were published by the TASS news agency, Russian earned a total of $14.5 billion from weapons sales in 2015 while its global arms sale order book swelled to $56 billion.
“Combat gear was exported to 58 countries, but the key customers for Russia’s materiel were India, Iraq, Vietnam, China and Algeria. For instance, India received 12 Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter knockdown sets, 23 Mil Mi-17V-5 helicopters and AL-31FP and RD-33 aircraft engines and had its Project 877 (Kilo-class) Sindhukitri diesel-electric submarine, six Kamov Ka-31 helicopters and other hardware upgraded to the tune of a total of $4 billion.”

Military equipment was exported to Iraq in 2015 under deals clinched in 2013. The deliveries included Mi-35M, Mi-28NE and Mi-171Sh helicopters, Pantsir S1 (SA-22 Greyhound) air defence systems, TOS-1A self-propelled flamethrowers and T-72B main battle tanks, with the hardware being worth in excess of $4 billion. Vietnam took delivery of two Project 6361 Varshavyanka-Class (Improved Kilo-class) diesel-electric submarines, four Su-30MK2 fighters and associated munitions – worth a total of about $1 billion, the Commission report said.

China ordered several Ka-32 (Helix) helicopters and D-30KP2 aircraft engines in 2015. Azerbaijan received T-90 tanks, BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles and Mi-17 helicopters. Belarus received four Yak-130 aircraft and Kazakhstan four Su-30 fighters. The report said the Russian Defense Ministry exported four S-300PS air defence systems free of charge to Belarus while Kazakhstan received five S-300PS systems and Kyrgyzstan received ten BTR-70M vehicles.

It was noted that Russia’s military deployment to Syria was expected to drive further arms sales, as the Russian equipment in Syria has now been proven in combat. This could drive another $6 billion worth of sales to Russia, reports Russia’s Kommersant newspaper, which said the Kremlin’s intervention in Syria had created a “marketing effect” leading to increased interest from Algeria, Indonesia, Vietnam and Pakistan. Russian officials told Kommersant the countries were interested in buying Sukhoi fighter and strike jets.

Russia’s involvement in Syria has cost at least $500 million.