GABORONE, Botswana — The Algerian Ministry of National Defense (MND) and Russian aircraft manufacturer Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association (NAPO) are likely to sign a deal for the sale of 12 Sukhoi-34 "Fullback" striker aircraft before the end of 2016, Russian news service TASS has reported.

The service quoted a Russian military-diplomatic source who attended the just-ended Singapore Airshow as saying the two sides will certainly sign the deal by the end of 2016 after the Su-34 was granted the export certification.

The lack of export certification previously threatened to scuttle the deal.

"They (Algeria) have been willing to get the Su-34s for a long time now. The related talks are ongoing and they have reached an advanced stage. Previously, the aircraft did not have the export certificate," said the source, who request anonymity. "Now the appropriate documents have been obtained. I believe the contract will be signed in mid-2016 or definitely by the end of the year. There is a mutual interest in the deal. Everything will be done this year.

Algeria and Russia opened negotiations for the sale of an initial 12 Su-34 "Fullbacks" in November last year. According to Russian media reports, both sides are also discussing the possibility of expanding the Algeria order to 40 Su-34s.

The Su-34 is one of most sought after fighter aircraft in its generation after proving itself in Syria where the Russian Air Force deployed it on airstrikes that have tipped the balance of the war back in favor of the Syrian Arab Army in less than six months.

Rosoboronexport, which handles all Russian military exports, was granted export certification for the Su-34 in late 2015. If confirmed, the Su-34 order will confirm Algeria as the top African and Middle Eastern market for Sukhoi military aircraft.

In September 2015, Algeria ordered 14 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter aircraft from the Irkut Aircraft Corporation. Deliveries, which are due to start later this year, will be completed by the end of 2017. Algeria already operates 44 Su-30 aircraft ordered between 2006 and 2010.


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