Russian aircraft manufacturer Irkut has lined up orders with the Russian Defence Ministry and Algeria for the delivery of 22 Su-30 heavy multi-role fighter jets over the next two years, Russian officials said this week.

Sergey Chemezov, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the head of Russia's state defense technology holding Rostec, announced Friday that Russia has signed an agreement with Algeria for the delivery of 14 Sukhoi Su-30MKI multi-role fighter jets.

The Su-30 is classified by the Russians as a generation 4+ fighter, and is a less advanced derivative of the Soviet-designed Su-27 flanker than the newer Su-35 multi-role fighter, which is marketed as a generation 4++ fighter jet, sporting Russia's latest electronics and weapons.

The price of the Algeria contract was not disclosed, but the reported cost of an Su-30MKI fighter is 2 billion rubles (US$30 million). The MKI is an export variant of the Su-30, and over 200 of the planes are in service with the Indian Air Force. Algeria has 44 of the aircraft already.

Chemezov said Algeria's new Su-30MKI fighters would be delivered between 2016 and 2017 — the same time frame for delivery as a contract for eight of the more recent Su-30SM variant of the fighter jets signed by Irkut and the Russian Defence Ministry on Tuesday.

Deputy Defence Minister for Procurements Yury Borisov said Tuesday that the eight planes were being purchased for the Russian Navy, which operates the Su-30 as a maritime strike aircraft out of Crimea, but that a larger 75-fighter contract was teed up for the air force.

That contract will be signed by the end of the year and "will give additional orders to the Irkut Aviation Plant, and secure its corresponding economic stability," Borisov was quoted as saying in an Irkut news release Tuesday.

Irkut is one of Russia's three largest airplane manufacturers, which include MiG and Sukhoi. All three are owned by the United Aircraft Corporation, a massive Russian state-owned aviation holding company.

Rostec's Chemezov, speaking at the 2015 Russia Arms Expo held Sept. 9-12 in Nizhny Tagil — home to tank manufacturer UralVagonZavod — said that Irkut was expected to produce 60 aircraft this year, setting a post-World War II record for the aviation plant.

Irkut is in the final stages of completing deliveries under a 2011 contract with the Russian Defence Ministry to deliver 60 Su-30SM fighter jets. The new contract for 75 of the fighters will see 20 to 25 of the planes roll off Irkut's assembly line over a period of three years.

The Russian Navy is also interested in future orders of the Su-30SM. In August, the head of Russia's naval aviation branch, Maj. Gen. Igor Kozhin, said the navy would procure around 50 of the aircraft by 2020, bringing the total number of Su-30SMs in service across all branches to 160.

While the Defence Ministry is preparing to sign a contract for more Su-30 fighters, it is also gearing up to sign a 100 billion ruble (US$1.5 billion) contract for 48 Su-35 fighter jets by the end of the year. Sukhoi manufactures the Su-35 itself and is expected to complete a similar 48-fighter contract this year.


Twitter: @mattb0401

Matthew Bodner covered Russian affairs for Defense News.

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