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Monday, February 6, 2017

Belarus Plans Su-30SM Purchase

In a recent interview, a Belarusian military official described some of the military's plans for acquisitions in 2017. Among these is a squadron of Su-30SM fighter jets.

On February 4, 2017 Belarusian Deputy Defense Minister Igor Lotenkov discussed with the Belarusian Military Newspaper a range of topics on the country's agenda for the year. He noted Belarus' interest in acquiring new fighter jets from Russia.

Sputnik International quoted Lotenkov as telling the newspaper, "In 2017, the purchase of Su-30SM airplanes is planned."

Belarus has previously expressed interest in acquiring the fighter jet. In October 2015, the Belarusian Air Force Chief, Major General Oleg Dvigalev, told BelTa that Belarus was looking to buy Su-30SMs to replace the fleet of MiG-29s currently in service.

BelTa quoted Dvigalev as saying, "Naturally the existing aviation fleet, particularly fighter jets MiG-29, is getting outdated. It is time to decide on replacing these aircraft. We are considering buying Su-30SM aircraft from Irkut Corporation. It may be done after 2020."

Around a year ago, in February 2016, Lotenkov noted that Belarus had reached a preliminary agreement with Irkut Corporation on the acquisition of Su-30SMs. Later in 2016, Dvigalev confirmed that the country would buy at least a squadron of Su-30SMs by 2020.

Dvigalev added, "[the Su-30SM] proved well in the Syrian conflict, and many countries take it in service." Russian Aerospace Force Su-30SMs saw combat action in Syria after being deployed to that country starting in September 2015.

As a possible indicator that Belarus' Su-30SM interest is proceeding into negotiations for an acquisition, Serbia's Defense Minister announced last week that Belarus will donate eight MiG-29s, among other hardware, to the Serbian military, at no cost to Serbia, except for repair and modernization expenses. These deliveries are slated to be complete by 2018.

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