For the first time in memory, one of Russia’s arms customers may return a shipment deemed defective.
Algeria’s effort to send back 15 MiG-29 fighter jets might scuttle the rest of an $8 billion arms deal clinched in 2006, Russia’s biggest export package since the Soviet Union collapsed. Yet the weapons contracts may not be the biggest prize at risk.
Observers say the arms deal, which included the forgiveness of $4.7 billion in Soviet-era debt, was part of Moscow’s effort to open Algeria’s vast natural-gas reserves to Russian companies. If the arms deal sours, they say, so might the prospect of a natural-gas cartel.
The Algerians claim that the planes were built on used fuselages. The Russians counter that though the fuselages were built in the 1990s and in storage for years, they were unused. Sourced indicate that the Russians might be willing to take the planes back, particularly if the Algerians buy other Russian aircraft, possibly new-build MiG29s.
Other equipment in the big military deal includes:
- 28 Su-30MK fighters
- 16 Yak-130 training aircraft
- 4 S-300PMU-2 missile air-defense systems
- 38 Pantsir-S1 missile-and-gun air-defense systems
- 185 T-90S tanks
- 216 Kornet-E antitank missiles
- 8 Krasnopol guided artillery shells
And here’s an interesting bit:
Yet if Russia takes back the jets, as the defense minister has hinted it would, it might set a troubling precedent for the country’s defense industry. India, for example, might try to return the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, whose price tag – including an overhaul and upgrade – has jumped from $1.5 billion to $2.7 billion, said Alexander Khamchikhin, an analyst with the Institute for Political and Military Analysis, a think tank here. [emphasis Murdoc’s]
But, then, where on earth would India get a large aircraft carrier? I noted in the 02/22/08 Linkzookery that talk was that the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) may be given to India after it’s retired from the US Navy if the Indians go with F-18E/F Super Hornets rather than navalized MiG-29s.