Kazakhstan is to acquire the Sukhoi Su-30SM 'Flanker' as it looks to recapitalise its Soviet-era fighter force, the government announced on 4 February.
The disclosure was made by the Commander in Chief of the Kazakhstan Air Defence Forces (KADF), Major General Nurlan Ormanbetov, during a visit to the Irkutsk Aviation Plant where the Su-30SM is built.
"Thanks to the policy of the President [of Kazakhstan] today [we] have the opportunity to [recapitalise our] combat aircraft to modern types. This multipurpose aircraft will greatly enhance the combat potential of the [KADF]," said the general.
The government announcement did not disclose aircraft numbers or delivery timelines.
The Su-30SM has been developed from the Indian Su-30MKI and is intended by the Russian Air Force as a stop-gap until the Su-35 and Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA enter service later in the decade. The two-seat Su-30SM features an improved radar, communications, and ejector-seat system. In addition, the aircraft's weaponry configuration has been adjusted to Russian specifications.
The KADF currently fields MiG-27 'Flogger', Su-25 'Frogfoot', MiG-31 'Foxhound', Su-27 'Flanker', and MiG-29 'Fulcrum' aircraft, all inherited from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
The central Asian nation has recently been procuring Western aircraft for the first time in the guise of the Airbus C295 transport aircraft, as well as EC145 and Bell UH-1 Huey II helicopters (and has been touted as a potential customer of the Airbus A400M transport aircraft).
However, as a former Soviet Republic and current member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Kazakhstan would have felt it needed (or even preferred) to opt for a Russian platform to fulfil its 'blue-riband' fighter requirement.
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