WARSAW — Belarus has signed a preliminary deal with Russian state-owned aircraft maker Irkut to purchase new Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter jets for the country's Air Force, reports local pro-government daily Sovetskaya Belorussiya — Belarus Segodnya. The new aircraft will replace the outdated Mikoyan MiG-29 fighters.

"These aircraft have been operated for about 30 years, although the initial plan was to use operated them for 20 years," said Deputy Defense Minister Major General Igor Lotenkov. "The airstrike capability will be increased following the acquisition of the Su-30."

The amount of the fighter jets, which are to be acquired, was not disclosed by Lotenkov, who serves as the Defense Ministry's top armaments official.

The deputy defense minister said that, with the new aircraft, the Air Force will be enabled to carry out combat missions from any military airport in Belarus.

The Su-30SM is a twin-engine, two-seat aircraft considered as a 4-plus generation fighter jet. The aircraft is enabled with a flight range of 3,000 kilometers.

Other forthcoming procurements for the Belarusian Air Force include the acquisition of 12 Mil Mi-8 MTV-5 transport helicopters, which are to replace the Mi-8 helos and further Yakovlev Yak-130 jet trainers.

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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