Procurement: Su-30s Over Africa


July 21, 2011: Uganda has received the first two of six Russian Su-30 jet fighters. Uganda paid $124 million each for their Su-30s, but this included the cost of setting a maintenance operation and for training. There was much local opposition to this deal, not least because it consumed a third of Uganda's foreign reserves. The high price also indicated some payoffs were involved.

Uganda justified the need for these high-performance jets because regional neighbors like Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan operate MiG-29s. But other neighbors may now feel obliged to upgrade their air forces as well. Oil was discovered in Uganda five years ago, so now there is something to defend, and a way to pay for it. Su-30s cost several million dollars a year to maintain (assuming they will be flown often enough to sustain pilot skills.) In the past fifty years, most African nations that have obtained high-performance jets, did not maintain them well, and these jet fighters eventually became useless and grounded.

The 37 ton Su-30 is roughly equivalent to the 25 ton U.S. F-15. Of course, the F-15 comes in many versions, as does the Su-27 (which the Su-30 is a variant of.) India bought SU-30MKIs, which are more similar to the two seat F-15E fighter-bomber. The Indian aircraft was equipped with French and Israeli electronics. Even so, the Su-30MKIs cost less than half what Uganda is paying. The Su-30 can carry more than eight tons of bombs and hit targets over 1,500 kilometers away.




Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contribute. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   contribute   Close