Russia to buy back 24 fighters rejected by Algeria for $690 mln
MOSCOW, February 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Defense Ministry will pay 25 billion rubles ($690 million) for 24 MiG fighters that Algeria has refused to accept due to their "inferior quality," a Russian deputy prime minister said on Monday.
"The issue of the Defense Ministry's procurement of a large batch of fighters under a former Algerian contract has been settled," Sergei Ivanov said.
"We are talking about 24 aircraft worth 25 billion rubles," he added.
Russian arms export monopoly Rosoboronexport signed a $1.3 bln contract to deliver 28 one-seat MiG-29SMT fighters and six two-seat MiG-29UB combat trainers to Algeria in March 2006 as part of an $8 billion military cooperation agreement.
However, after receiving 15 MiG fighters, Algeria refused further deliveries in May 2007. It then froze all payments under contracts with Russia in October 2007, requiring that Moscow first take back the 15 MiG-29s due to their "inferior quality."
The aircraft were eventually returned to Russia last April, and after thorough testing were approved for the service with the Russian Air Force.
Meanwhile, following a MiG-29 crash in East Siberia last December, the Defense Ministry admitted for the first time last week that Russia's MiG-29 fleet of 281 aircraft was mostly outdated and not capable of performing combat duties.
Military experts believe the aircraft, which was developed in the 1970s and supplied to the Air Force between 1983 and 1993, has become obsolete and needs to be removed from active service.
MiG-29SMT is an upgraded version of the MiG-29 fighter, carrying a wide range of air-to-air and air-to-surface weaponry.
The MiG aircraft maker earlier said that after an upgrade the combat effectiveness of the aircraft increased three-fold and operating costs dropped by about 40%