Africa’s air forces are on a buying spree. Flush with oil cash, many African states are investing heavily in modern multirole jet fighters, deadly helicopter gunship and even sophisticated air-defense systems with radars and surface-to-air missiles.
The deals are worth hundreds of millions of dollars in countries still lacking many basic social services. So it’s worth asking exactly what Uganda, Angola, Sudan and the like are planning to do with their new air forces.
Some of the most interesting acquisitions involve modern, or modernized, Russian hardware. The Sukhoi Su-30—NATO codename “Flanker-C”—is a particular favorite of African governments. In just the last six years, African states together have acquired no fewer than 50 Su-30MKs.
Algeria and Uganda have the most, with 18 more planes slated to go to Angola. With a unit price hovering around $37 million, these twin-engine, tw0-seat fighters don’t come cheap for countries that still rank low on development indices. […]