Why did Algeria reject the French Rafale and give preference to the Su-30MKA?

As the country with the second largest territory in North Africa, the Algerian Army did not choose the French Rafale fighter, but decided to choose Su-30MKA. So what is the reason for Algeria to abandon the French plane and choose the Russian plane?

The French Rafale medium fighter, which had a rough early history; was put into service 15 years after its first flight, due to development difficulties and difficult export markets.Rafale also participated in many bids, but most failed, such as in Korea and Singapore, where Rafale lost to the US F-15 fighter; in Morocco and the UAE, Rafale lost to the F-16; in Kuwait, Rafale lost to F/A-18E; in Brazil, Rafale lost to Gripen E of Sweden; and in Saudi Arabia and Oman, Rafale lost to the Anglo-German Eurofighter.

Another notable, but little-known, failed attempt by Rafale was in the 2000s when France offered to sell to the Algerian Air Force, which was now scrapping its MiG-23 fighters because they were almost out of stock. shelf life and Algeria was considering alternatives.Algerian law stipulates that all new aircraft must be tested in the country itself, and Rafales from France was sent to the country for evaluation by the Algerian Air Force. But the Algerian Air Force, like all Rafale customers at the time, rejected the French fighter for a number of reasons.

While most Rafale contracts were thwarted by other light or medium aircraft such as the F-16, Algeria rejected the fighter, in favor of a heavier and more advanced aircraft. much, like Korea and Singapore did.Algeria’s choice was a heavy fighter, the rival of the Russian-made F-15, which is the Su-30; considered more capable in many ways than the American adversary.

The benefits of choosing the Su-30 over the Rafale were significant and Algeria’s choice was also predictable. One of the main reasons for choosing the Su-30 is its much wider range.The Rafale has a relatively long range for a medium fighter, but it is still far below that of heavy aircraft like the Su-30 or F-15. This is a big disadvantage, considering the vast territory of Algeria.

Algeria is the largest country in North Africa, an area of territory that the Algerian air force needs to patrol, equivalent to the area of France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and Greece combined.

Not only can the Su-30 fly further and with a higher weapon load, but its situational awareness is also significantly higher than that of the Rafale. The Su-30MKA’s N011M BARS radar was twice the size of Rafale’s RBE2 radar (at that time Rafale was not equipped with AESA radar) and both in terms of technology were similar.

Rafale’s M88 engine was the weakest of any fighter in production in the world at the time; This also limits the Rafale’s speed and altitude, and the Su-30’s very powerful engine, allowing for faster response to threats.

Another important factor that gives the Su-30 an even greater advantage is that Algeria has a history of using Soviet/Russian fighters; and if buying Su-30, Algeria will take advantage of the country’s aviation infrastructure.

Currently the main threat to Algeria’s security comes from Western parties and allies with the West; especially after the bloody, French-led offensive campaign against neighboring Libya. So buying weapons from a reliable, non-Western source is beneficial in many ways.

And yet, in the past, France has repeatedly provided detailed information on the specifications and weaknesses of the fighters and aviation weapons it produces, to its Western allies, in particular. was with the United States and Great Britain during the 1991 Gulf War and with Britain during the Falklands War.

Rafale’s only strong point is that it is a light aircraft, which is much cheaper to operate than the Su-30. However, this was partially offset by the much lower purchase price of the Su-30 than the Rafale.

The Su-30 variant that Algeria purchased, which was based on the Su-30MKI version developed for India and was Russia’s best performing fighter, was sold on the export market at the time and was purchased by the Russian Federation. considered more capable than the F-15.

The Su-30MKA has made Algeria the country with the most capable air force in Africa, or the Arab world at a moderate cost; while at the same time ensuring that a Western-like attack on Libya with Algeria, would not be possible.

The Su-30MKA is equipped with a range of advanced weapons, including Kh-31 missiles to suppress enemy air defense and anti-ship systems, whose features are far superior to any other weapon. of Europe. Su-30MKA also uses air-to-air missiles with a range of up to 130km; Meanwhile, Rafale uses MICA missiles, with a range of only 80km.

The size of Algeria’s Su-30MKA fleet is currently less than 60 and is expected to reach over 70 by 2024 with new batches of Su-30MKAs, which are said to have a significant performance advantage, compared with other Su-30MKA fleets. original type. Equipping Su-30 in large numbers, has increased the strength of the Algerian Air Force leading in Africa.

After Algeria rejected the Rafale, neighboring Morocco also rejected this fighter, in favor of using the US F-16 Fighting Falcon; like the Su-30MKA is considered by many to be much more cost-effective than the French fighter. 

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