The Algerian Defence Ministry has requested a larger $10.3 billion budget for next year, with which it hopes to buy a variety of new equipment as it modernises its military and engages in counterterrorism activities.
The new request is an increase of 14.2% over the previous year and reflects Algeria’s military modernisation and internal security challenges. Much of the budget request will go to the procurement of new equipment for the Army, Navy and Air Force.
“The increase is part of an expansion of the ministry into areas that had long been under the authority of the Interior Ministry,” an Algerian source was quoted by the World Tribune as saying. Indeed, the increased defence budget reflects the takeover of the Municipal Guard, containing around 100 00 personnel, by the Defence Ministry. This was previously administered by the Interior Ministry.
Algeria has North Africa’s second largest military, after Egypt. Around 1% of Algeria’s 35 million people are employed by the armed forces or paramilitary organisations (the latter being 185 000 strong), according to Jane’s information group. Jane’s said that Algeria most likely was the biggest military spender in Africa in 2009 and is the world’s ninth largest importer of weapons.
In 2006 Algeria signed a massive $7.5 billion arms deal with Russia covering MiG-29SMT and SU-30 fighters, Yak-130 trainers, AT-13 Metis-M and AT-14 missiles, M1 Tunguska gun/missile systems, T-90S tanks and Mi-24 attack helicopters, amongst other items.
Although Russia has been the main source of Algerian defence equipment, the North African country has been buying more from other suppliers. On March 26 this year, Algeria’s ministry of defence ordered two Meko A200 frigates from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS).
TKMS will supply two Meko A200 frigates and six AgustaWestland Super Lynx helicopters under the contract, which, according to Der Spiegel, is worth 2.13 billion euros. The frigates will be similar to the Valour class used by the South-African Navy and equipped with Umkhonto surface-to-air missiles like the South African vessels.
The Algerian Navy has also ordered a landing and logistical support vessel from the Italian company Orizzonte Sistemi Navali in mid-2011. It is based on the San Giorgio class used by the Italian Navy. It will be able to accommodate three Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM), three small Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP), one large Landing Craft Personnel (LCP) and two semi-rigid boats.
The LCVP will be manufactured in Algeria under license by Mers El Kebir shipyard. A steel cutting ceremony for the landing and logistical support vessel was held at the Riva Trigoso Shipyard on January 11.
In May it emerged that Algeria had signed a contract with China Shipbuilding Trading Company for three light frigates. They will be built either at Guangzhou or the Shanghai Huangpu Shipyard. The vessels will displace around 2 800 tons fully loaded, and will be powered by MTU diesel engines.
In the middle of last year it was announced that Algeria had signed a deal with Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation and state arms exporter Rosoboronexport for two new Tiger class corvettes. The Tiger corvette (Project 20382) is an export model of the Project 20380 Steregushchy class, which is the Russian Navy’s newest corvette class.
In June 2006 Rosoboronexport signed a contract with the Algerian Navy for the construction of two Project 636 Improved Kilo class submarines under a roughly US$400 million contract. Construction of the first submarine started in 2006 and the second began in 2007. They were handed over to the Algerian Navy in March and September 2010 where they joined two Project 877EKM Kilo diesel electric submarines, which Algeria received in 1987-1988.
On the landward side, a subsidiary of Rheinmetall plans to produce up to 1 200 Fuchs armoured personnel carriers in Algeria over the next decade. They will be assembled from kits. In 2011 Germany authorised the export of 54 Fuchs vehicles worth 195 million euros to Algeria, as well as other military vehicles worth 286 million, Der Spiegel said.