BEIRUT — Sudan has been flying military aircraft of Russian and Chinese origin alongside American fighter jets — and sharing data among them, according to the chief of staff of the Sudanese Air Force.
“Sudanese engineers have been able to make an adaptation between Eastern and Western platforms," Lt. Gen. Pilot Salah Eldin Abdelkhaliq Saeed said at the second Manama Airpower Symposium this month. "They have even entered American, Russian and Chinese radars in one command-and-control center. We have provided all our platforms with a unified Sudanese surveillance system and Sudanese communication devices.”
Russian fighters operating in Sudan include the Mig-29, Mig-23, Su-24 and Su-25, as well as the AN-26, AN-30, AN-32, AN-12 and Ilyushin Il-76 Russian military transport aircraft.
Sudan is also operating the Chinese A-5, PT-6, FTC-2000 and K-8 aircraft, in addition to American C-130s, French Puma helicopters and German Bo 105 helicopters.
Saeed noted that many of the European and American military aircraft cannot be operated by the Sudanese Air Force because there are no spare parts for the platforms, and Sudan lacks the maintenance capabilities to update them. This is especially caused by U.S. sanctions on Sudan that prevent the African country from cooperating with some American and European companies.
The U.S. lifted some sanctions on Sudan in October 2017, but Sudan remains on a list of state sponsors of terrorism. The restrictions on that list “include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance" and "a ban on defense exports and sales,” according to the U.S. State Department.