BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe — The Algerian Air Force has ordered 12 Sukhoi (Su-34) "Fullback" fighter bombers from Russian aircraft manufacturer Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association to replace an aged fleet of Soviet-era MiG-25s, which are long over-due for retirement from service, as part of an ongoing force modernization program.

In an interview published by Russian-language newspaper Vedomosti on New Year's D day, Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association Director General Chkalov Sergei Smirnov announced that Algeria has finally ordered the Su-34 after nearly eight years of continuous negotiations.

Although he did not give any further details on the sale, Smirnov said the Algerian Air Force is also negotiating for the long-term purchase of upgraded versions of the company's (Sukhoi) SuU-24 "Fencer," which would be in line with the changing needs of Algeria's its ongoing force re-orientation and modernization project.

The Su-34 order is believed to be a component of the $7.5 billion Algerian-Russian arms deal signed in March 2006 for the supply of anti-missile systems, aviation, sea and land-ward defense equipment and technologies in March 2006.

Late last year, top Russian military expert Igor Korotchenko told RIA Novostin that the deployment of the Su-34 in on combat duty in Syria will help potential buyers in Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East to evaluate its performance and decide on whether to acquire it or not.:

"Several countries in Africa, including Uganda and Nigeria, which [are] is waging a war (Islamist terrorist group) against Boko Haram, could buy the Su-34. Such top of the range fighter bomber aircraft could also strengthen Ethiopia's Air Force, which still operates a large fleet of aging Su-27 fighters," Korotchenko said.

The Su-34 has also attracted the interest of Iraq, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan while Kazakhstan already operates a squadron recently acquired from Russia recently. Powered by a two Saturn AL-31F turbo-fan engines, and the Su-34 is a fourth generation fighter bomber created from the frame of its (Sukhoi) Su-27 predecessor.

It has a non-stop operating range of 4 000 kilometers and a maximum speed of up to 2,200 kilometerskilometer per hour. Its principal armaments include a 30-mm GSh-301 canon, and various caliber surface to air-to-air missiles, cruise missiles, air-to-surface missiles, anti-ship and anti-radiation missiles in addition to guided and free-fall bombs.

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