Russia offering Su-30s to Ethiopia
Russia is offering 18 ex-Indian Air Force Su-30MKI fighters to Ethiopia, which already operates a number of Su-27 models.
Rosoboronexport deputy general director Alexander Mikheyev said on Friday that Ethiopia was interested in acquiring the Su-30MKIs. "We are in consultation with Ethiopia about a possible sale of these aircraft. We proposed to modernise them in order to improve their tactical and technical characteristics and equip modern air-to-ground missiles," RIA Novosti quoted him as saying.
“If the customer is willing to fund operations, we are ready to make repairs, upgrade and deliver the aircraft within four to six months,” Mikheyev said. At present, four ex-Indian Su-30MKIs are being refurbished.
India 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) that were returned to Russia in 2003 and replaced with more advanced Su-30s.
Last year, at the time of the September Africa Aerospace and Defence show held outside Pretoria, Mikheyev said that Russia was ready to export Su-30s to Africa, especially to countries like Uganda, Angola and Ethiopia. Angola received six Su-30MK2 multirole fighters last year and may buy another six.
Ethiopia has a relatively well equipped, trained and maintained air force, which is one of the most capable on the continent. Its fixed wing combat fleet includes roughly a dozen MiG-21s, a dozen MiG-23s, eight Su-25s and a dozen Su-27s. The SU-27s were bought in the late 1990s and used in combat against Eritrean MiG-29s.
Ethiopian Air Force (ETAF)
Ethiopia's air force was founded by Haile Selassie and would be greatly expanded under his imperial administration. In 1930, the Ethiopian air force consisted of just three jet fighters: two German-made monoplanes and one British-made Gypsy Moth. All three planes were flown and maintained by two French pilots who were funded by the French Government. In 1958, at the request of Haile Selassie, the Eisenhower administration provided three Lockheed T-33 Shooting Stars, one Douglas C-47 Skytrain, and for the training of Ethiopian pilots in the United States. Moreover, President Eisenhower agreed to provide Ethiopia with twelve F-86 Sabre jets that were delivered in 1960.
During the Mengistu Haile Mariam reign, Ethiopian air force received a substantial amount of sophisticated Soviet built weaponry. In fact, during this period, Ethiopia had the largest and strongest black African military that was armed to the teeth with advanced military apparatuses. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), by 1979, Ethiopia acquired "70 MiG fighter bombers, of which 12 are of the advanced MiG-23 type and the rest mainly MiG 21s. The Ethiopians also have 30 heavy-lift M1-6 combat helicopters." As a result of years of poor maintenance, compounded with the wars with neighboring states of Eritrea and Somalia, much of these jet fighters possessed during Mengistu's era were destroyed and less than a fraction remain operational today.
Under Meles Zenawi's administration, Ethiopian air force acquired a number of MiG-29s, SU-25s, and SU-27s. Due to the secretive nature of Zenawi's regime, very little information is ever given on the number of these fighters, nor are many images available online. Educated guesses by military experts put the number of eight SU-27s and seven MiG-29s in service for ETAF.
Source: Written by Defence Web News - 3 July 2013
Photo: The Ethiopian Air Force (ETAF) Su-27 Fighter Aircraft (Photo by Griffon)