Angola has received the last of 12 Su-30K fighters from Belarus after they were upgraded by the 558th Aviation Repair Plant in conjunction with Russia’s Rosoboronexport.
The last two Su-30Ks were delivered to Angola in April this year, Alexander Vorobey, Deputy Director for Development at the 558th Aviation Repair Plant told the TASS news agency. He said Angola’s fighters had been upgraded to Su-30SM standard, giving them the ability to fire anti-ship and air-to-air missiles. They are also fitted with jammers. The contract included delivery of a flight simulator and training aids from Belarus.
The Su-30SM is an upgraded version of the Su-30MKI and MKM variants developed for the Russian Air Force. It has improved avionics including glass cockpit and Bars-R radar, amongst others. It has canards and AL-31FP engines with thrust vector control for improved manoeuvrability. It is not clear how many of the Su-30SM’s upgrades Angolan aircraft have received.
Angola received its first two Su-30Ks in September 2017, with four spotted in satellite imagery in October 2018. It ordered 12 of the second hand fighters during a visit by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin to Luanda, Angola, in October 2013. Deliveries were originally anticipated around 2015 but delayed due to upgrade work – according to TASS, modification work includes improvements to the radar and navigation system.
The aircraft were formerly operated by the Indian Air Force, which has ordered more than 200 Su-30MKIs in a number of batches. The early models delivered were basic aircraft without features like canards and thrust vector controls, and it is these 18 early model aircraft (ten Su-30MK and eight Su-30K fighters delivered between May 1997 and December 1999) that were returned to Russia and replaced with more advanced Su-30MKIs.
India had intended to upgrade these early aircraft but instead used them as part-exchange for new aircraft. They were retired in 2006 and sent to the 558th Aircraft Repair Plant at Baranovichi in Belarus between August and November 2011 as the property of Irkut Corporation. They were subsequently overhauled and upgraded.
Angola’s Su-30Ks augment around half-a-dozen Su-27s, out of 18 originally delivered. These aircraft serve with the 13th Fighter Squadron, part of the 25th Fighter Aviation Regiment at Kuito Air Base.
This article was first published by defenceWeb on May 20, 2019.