Russian state media has reported that the Algerian Air Force has placed a large order for 18 Su-35 fourth generation fighters, which will serve alongside its already sizeable continent of specialised Su-30MKA twin engine air superiority jets in the country’s formidable air fleet. Accounting for approximately half of all Russian arms export to the African continent, and one of the very largest importers of Russian arms in the world, Algeria has often been, alongside China, the very first to acquire the latest Russian armaments – maintaining close defence ties lasting well over fifty years and making use of a defence budget of approximately $10 billion to acquire some of the most capable Russian made arms available. These have included BMPT-72 Terminator 2 tank support vehicles, T-90 battle tanks, Kilo Class submarines, Iskander ballistic missiles and according to several reports S-400 air defence batteries as well. Most recently, the country’s armed forces were seen near the end of July 2018 seen testing Pantsir-SM air defence platforms – a weapons system officially not yet in service. This led to speculation that the weapons platform had been sold to Algeria before being supplied to Russia’s own armed forces, or else that the revolutionary new system was being jointly tested by the two countries – either of which would represent a unique degree of trust and cooperation between the two defence partners.
With approximately five dozen elite Su-30 air superiority fighters in service, it has long been speculated that Algeria would soon move to acquire the latest next generation Russian jets – the Su-35. With orders for the Su-35 having already been placed by China, Indonesia and, according to some reports, Sudan, Algeria has emerged as one of the first clients for the new jets. Fielding what was during the Soviet era arguably the most capable jet for air to air combat ever exported by the USSR, the MiG-25 Foxbat interceptor – a platform exte
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