An Algerian Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jet crashed in the evening of January 27, 2020, during a routine exercise, in the commune of Ain Zitoun, northeastern Algeria.
The aircraft belonged to the 121st fighter squadron of the Algerian Air Force and was on a night training mission. Both the pilot and the navigator were killed. An investigation should be launched, the Acting Chief of Staff of the National People’s Army announced in a statement of the Ministry of National Defense (MDN).
The crash rekindles the debate on the condition of the Algerian Air Force fleet. Between 2007 and 2017, 19 air accidents involving Algerian military aircraft, in Algeria or abroad, were recorded by the local defense media, Menadefense. 30% of all accidents were due to a technical problem, while 40% were due to a human mistake.
More recently, on April 11, 2018, An Ilyushin IL-76 transport plane belonging to the Algerian Air Force crashed at Boufarik military airport (QFD), near Algiers, the capital of Algeria. The plane was heading to Bechar and crashed soon after taking off. The crash resulted in the deadliest aviation accident in Algeria’s history with 257 casualties: 10 crew members and 247 passengers. Most of the passengers were personnel of the Algerian People’s National Armed Forces or members of their families.
The Sukhoi 30 multirole fighter jet is among the most modern fighter jets currently in service within the Algerian Air Force. In 2006, the country ordered the first batch of 28 Su-30MKA in an effort to modernize its fleet, followed by an additional 14 ordered in 2015. It is the second-largest operator of the variant after Russia.
Rumors are circulating on the possible acquisition of 42 additional Russian fighter jets by the Algerian authorities. In December 2019, Algerian and Russian media reported that an order for 14 Su-57 fighter jets in its export version, in addition to 14 Su-34 long-range bombers and 14 Su-35 air superiority jets was passed during the Algerian delegation’s visit to the MAKS Air Show in Moscow, in July 2019.
That order, which has not been officially confirmed, would make the North African country the very first export customer for the Su-57, the latest fighter jet developed by the Russian arms industry. Valued at around $2 billion, it would be a massive investment for Algeria, as it would represent 16% of its annual defense budget.