Returning fighters, Algerian style

MOSCOW. (Nikita Petrov exclusively for RIA Novosti) - Algeria will return 15 MiG-29SMT (Fulcrum) fighters purchased from the MiG corporation in 2006-2007 to Russia. The deal on the return was signed shortly before Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika visited Moscow. The ensuing scandal was picked up by the press.

This is an unpleasant incident not only because Algeria has thereby expressed its dissatisfaction over the quality of Russian exports. This brings into doubt the entire military-technical cooperation between the two countries with a price tag of $7 billion. This is the sum of the contracts signed by Russian representatives during Vladimir Putin's visit to Algeria.

This is the first demonstrative return during Russia's entire military-technical cooperation with foreign countries. What is the reason behind it?

Although military-technical cooperation is a sensitive subject, and not everything is known for sure, experts see many reasons behind this decision. One of them is the struggle between different political groups and clans in Algeria. Arms supplies always involve middlemen who receive impressive shares for their services. Those who get nothing are naturally displeased about this. Intrigues are always part of these deals, but when those who sign the contracts possess real power, scandals never acquire global dimensions.

Competition is another reason. Paris was going to sell its own Rafale fighters to Algeria, but the Algerians opted for the MiGs. The terms of the contract were very good. First, the price of the Russian fighters was much lower and the characteristics were very much the same. Second, by buying the fighters Algeria was paying off its debt to the former Soviet Union and its successor Russia. Moreover, as part of the payment, Russia offered to take back 36 old MiGs that had been bought by Algeria from Ukraine and Belarus, and flown by the Algerian Air Force. Who would refuse such incentives?

It is hard to believe that the MiG-29SMTs (one-seat and two-seat combat and training versions) were of poor quality. Off the record, Russian arms exporters maintain that before being sent to the south Mediterranean coast, the fighters were approved by Algerian experts. They also checked them up upon arrival in the country, and even started flying them. How can they now complain of defects, used spare parts or rusted units? Why didn't they see them before? But the time for rhetorical questions has gone. Russia has signed the deal on the return of 15 fighters and is obliged to take them back.

However, the Algerian experts are right when they talk about a drop in quality of Russian arms exports. This is openly admitted by top-ranking officials in charge of the Russian military-industrial sector, such as First Deputy Prime Minister and head of the military and industrial commission Sergei Ivanov and his first deputy Vladislav Putilin.

At a recent Academy of Military Sciences conference, Putilin said that "although the enterprises of the military-industrial sector have increased their turnout by more than 14% (military production went up by 19.1%, and civilian by 7.6%), some of them are simply unable to fulfill state-awarded contracts. Moreover, they cannot even use the allocated funds. The federal budget has long been generous. Thus, 800 billion rubles ($28 billion) were earmarked for defense purposes for 2008, 900 billion rubles ($33 billion) for 2009, and 1.1 trillion rubles (40 billion) for 2010."

The reasons for this situation are well known. Highly qualified personnel have come close to retirement age. Machines and technologies are becoming obsolescent - capital equipment in the defense industry is more than 30 years old. Major technologies have been lost, usual contacts severed, and the required raw materials and equipment are in short supply. The price of energy has skyrocketed. It is leaving the inflation rate far behind and greatly exceeds the deflators fixed by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.

It is already clear that the 2006-2015 state defense order endorsed just two years ago will not be fulfilled either in the range or number of products. This is the third order that the defense industry will not be able cope with.

Graduates of technical colleges are reluctant to work in the defense industry. Salaries are rather low, and career opportunities cannot compete with those in the oil and gas industry. In order to become a leading expert, a graduate has to work in the defense sector for at least 10 years. This is a slow process.

And there is another reason. Before, young people were not drafted if they worked at a military plant called a mailbox. Now this benefit does not exist. After graduating from a technical vocational school or college, young people take any job rather than going to a place where getting a foreign passport may become a hassle.

One more problem is that technical vocational schools no longer exist. Nobody is training future workers. Good turners, assembly fitters and welders are worth their weight in gold. Without them, it is impossible to build high-quality aircraft, ships, or missiles.

Putilin said that the "reasons for this situation in the defense industry are known. Talk about these problems in different formats and by all branches of power has become a ritual, but it is not always possible to coordinate the efforts by federal executive bodies, organizations, and enterprises aimed at removing these obstacles."

Apparently, the MiG fighters to be returned by Algeria are a major example of these problems that are discussed at length but not resolved. This scandal may not only affect bilateral relations between Russia and Algeria. It has also dealt a heavy blow to Russia's image as arms exporter. This is fraught with big problems for the future. Mistakes on the world's arms market spell enormous losses.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of Trend.

Kazakhstan decreases exports to Belarus year-on-year
Kazakhstan decreases exports to Belarus year-on-year
Hungary-Azerbaijan cooperation on ACG, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline can expand to new areas
Hungary-Azerbaijan cooperation on ACG, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline can expand to new areas
Conversations ongoing on potential projects between Turkmenistan, UK
Conversations ongoing on potential projects between Turkmenistan, UK
Loading Bars
Latest
29 years later: Azerbaijan marks tragic date of Khojaly genocide
ByteDance agrees to $92 million privacy settlement with U.S. TikTok users
Global COVID-19 deaths surpass 2.5 mln - Johns Hopkins University
Georgia approves draft agreement with largest oil company in Eastern Europe
Kazakhstan decreases exports to Belarus year-on-year
UAE resumes issuing travel visa for Iranians
Head of parliamentary committee talks agricultural activity in liberated Azerbaijani lands
AZAL to start to make special flights from Baku to Kyiv
OSCE PA Vice-President names Azerbaijan's challenges in post-Karabakh conflict period
Khojaly genocide - criminal act committed against mankind, against humanity, MP says
Azerbaijani FM, Israeli ambassador discuss prospects for development of bilateral co-op (PHOTO)
Russian journalists horrified by Azerbaijani Aghdam city's destruction
Netherlands Trading House may open in Azerbaijan
Supplies of 'Iskander' missiles to Armenia must be stopped – Russian expert
Baku hosts meeting with Pakistani military delegation
Pakistani FWO talks interest to co-op with Azerbaijan in infrastructure projects
Azerbaijani president receives Signify representatives via video format (PHOTO)
OSCE MG should support post-conflict rehabilitation of Azerbaijani territories - OSCE PA VP
Chairperson-in-Office of OSCE looks to visit Azerbaijan
Italy's share in Azerbaijani oil export in 2020 disclosed
Azerbaijani satellites to provide HD broadcasting to West Africa region
Hungary-Azerbaijan cooperation on ACG, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline can expand to new areas
Khazar Consortium opens again tender for service maintenance in Turkmenistan
Conversations ongoing on potential projects between Turkmenistan, UK
Uzbekistan’s fiscal policy to continue supporting economic recovery - Fitch Ratings
Payment card turnover in Azerbaijan continues to grow
Azerbaijan’s crude oil export to China up
Hungary eyes including Azerbaijani gas in country’s future energy mix
Azerbaijani market of great interest to Russian Perm region's business circles
Azerbaijan reports 142 more COVID-19 recoveries
Azerbaijan discloses volume of foreign trade operations with Russia in Jan. 2021
Azerbaijan to use new 'cloud' technologies in audit during 2021 - Chamber of Auditors
Volume of loans issued by Georgian commercial banks down
Uzbek-Korean JSC announces tender for transport services
OSCE ready to deploy mediation missions for sustained peace in Azerbaijani liberated territories - president
CNPC in Turkmenistan opens tender for provision of gas leakage detection services
Fitch projects share of state-owned banks in Uzbekistan to reduce
"Sign of Khojaly" film demonstrated within "Justice for Khojaly" campaign (VIDEO)
OIC SecGen pays tribute to those who lost their lives in Khojaly genocide
Reconstruction of Azerbaijan’s liberated lands to deepen economic co-op with Hungary
Moderna sees $18.4 billion in sales from COVID-19 vaccine in 2021
Swiss agriculture technologies to be introduced in Kazakhstan's Almaty
Tesla short-sellers sitting on $3.5 billion weekly profits
Azerbaijani FM receives Pakistani FWO's Director General (PHOTO)
Resident of Azerbaijan's liberated Jabrayil district injured as result of mine explosion
Georgia creating new council to develop state enterprise reform strategy
Uzbekistan approves investment agreements on construction of wind farms in Bukhara region
Iran's raw steel exports shrink
Dutch company sets up concrete production plant in Uzbekistan’s Tashkent region
Georgian Railway to resume passenger transportation
Azerbaijan records growth of debit cards in January 2021
Azerbaijani company signs contracts for transportation of aluminum products to Turkey
Russia increasing supplies to Turkey along BTK railway
Main share of Czech investments in Georgia falls on energy sector
Oil refining volumes decrease in Kazakhstan year-on-year
Azerbaijan communications ministry working on stabilizing Internet in districts
Azerbaijan’s Azerishig, MERKABA-SOFT companies sign contract
Payments of Azerbaijani insurance companies double
Data on cotton yarn sales on Turkmenistan’s exchange in Jan.2021
Kazakhstan's national oil&gas company reports lower annual oil transportation volumes
Kazakhstan's KazMunayGas sees decrease in 2020 oil extraction
Azerbaijan sees Jan.2021 growth of national currency deposits in local banks
Georgia plans to hinder construction of plastics recycling plant in Kutaisi FIZ
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for February 25
AzTV will investigate historical assasinations (PHOTO)
Kazakhstan eyes to host meeting of Turkic Council countries' energy ministers in 2022
Zarif urges South Korea to release Iran's blocked assets
UK eager to restart U.S. talks on tariff removal
Saipem expects capex to rise in 2021
Central Bank of Azerbaijan announces winner of tender for survey on household plans
Central Bank of Azerbaijan shares data on revenues of Azerbaijani insurance companies
Number of trucks crossing through Iran's Jolfa border checkpoint revealed
German companies eye 'green economy' dev't projects in Kazakhstan
Kazakh investors interested in several sectors of Turkish economy
Assets of pawnshops and microcredit organizations in Uzbekistan increase
Kazakhstan's major copper company reveals its 2021 production guidance
Turkey's activity on Turkmenistan’s exchange in Jan.2021
Azerbaijani president takes part in ceremony of providing families of martyrs, disabled with apartments (PHOTO)
Details of import-export via Iran's Bushehr Province announced
President Ilham Aliyev attends opening of Shaghan Rehabilitation Pension (PHOTO)
KAZ Minerals provides update on Baimskaya Project in co-op with Russia
Military coup attempt in Armenia - PM inviting supporters to Republic Square
Uzbek agriculture ministry to create system to monitor irrigated lands
Pashinyan dismisses head of General Staff
Armenian General Staff demands Pashinyan's resignation
Azerbaijani banks' foreign currency demand down
Azerbaijan privatizes several district public properties via auctions
Turkmenistan prepares to host transport conference for landlocked developing countries
Bakcell launches internet package for online education and work
Iran starts exporting products from Tombak port
Georgian PM appoints Vice PMs
Extraction from Iran's South Pars gas field exceeds plan
Kazakhstan's KAZ Minerals reports increase in revenues
TOP-5 trading partners of Azerbaijan in Jan. 2021
Georgia to extend grace period for auto importers
Saipem’s capex down, net financial debt up in 2020
Kazakh national atomic company's subsidiary opens tender to repair vehicles
Saipem sees decrease in revenues due to slowdown of projects
Barclays lifts 2021 oil price outlook on tighter U.S. supply view
Azerbaijani MFA comments on statements by Luxembourg's FM
All news