WARSAW, Poland, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Russia and Belarus have reached a preliminary agreement on the sale of a dozen Sukhoi Su-30SM multirole fighters with shipments to begin after 2020.
The agreement was discussed by Belarus Deputy Defense Minister Maj. Gen. Igor Lotenkov, who told journalists the purchase aims to replace his country's aging fleet of MiG-29 aircraft. The defense minister mentioned many of the MiG aircraft have been in service for roughly 30 years.
"Having calculated the costs for maintaining them, we came to conclusion that fleet renewal requires less funds," Lotenkov said. "The overall combat potential of the Belarus Armed Forces aviaiton component will practically remain [at the same level]."
The Su-30SM is the latest variant of the Sukhoi Su-30MK aircraft, and currently in service with the Russian Air Force. The fighter is being manufactured by Russia-based company Irkut, and is designed with multirole capabilities including counter-airstrikes, electronic countermeasures, and joint combat missions.
Belarus is one of three customers for the Su-30SM, which also includes Russia and Kazakhstan.
Belarus also plans to acquire 12 Mil Mi-8 MTV-5 transport helicopters to replace its fleet of Mi-8 helicopters and continue Yakovlev Yak-130 jet trainers.