In a proactive move to bolster its firefighting capabilities, the Algerian Air Force, known as Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Jaza’iriya, has finalized an agreement to acquire four Beriev Be-200ES Altair multirole amphibious aircraft, commonly referred to as water bombers. This significant procurement decision comes in response to a series of wildfires that have plagued several regions of the country.
The journey toward this strategic acquisition began in August 2021 when the Ministry of National Defense of Algeria initiated negotiations with manufacturers of firefighting aircraft. The selected aircraft of choice, the Russian Be-200, emerged as the ideal solution for combating wildfires effectively. This decision was solidified when Algeria officially submitted a request for the supply of four Be-200 amphibious aircraft to the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) in August 2021.
The contract to manufacture and deliver these amphibious firefighting aircraft was subsequently awarded to Taganrog Aviation Scientific and Technical Complex, commonly known as Beriev, in February 2022. To facilitate production, Beriev ordered materials worth over 385 million rubles (approximately USD 5.4 million), which were slated for delivery between 2022 and 2023.
However, it’s essential to note that one of the contracts involves the supply of certain components from Switzerland, including engine vibration control units, cable assemblies, and accelerometers. While these components are vital for the aircraft’s functionality, they may potentially be subjected to export sanctions due to international restrictions.
Fast forward to January 2023, and the first Be-200ES aircraft, adorned with Algerian markings and registered as 7T-VPV, emerged fully painted at the Beriev manufacturing plant. This initial aircraft is expected to be primarily employed for training aircrew. A second Be-200ES is anticipated to be unveiled in March 2023.
The maiden flight of the first Be-200ES aircraft dedicated to Algeria took place on May 21, 2023. Departing from Russia, it made an intermediate landing in Tunisia before reaching its final destination in Algeria. With the registration number 7T-VPV and tail number “626” (serial number 03-13), this aircraft marks the first of its kind to serve Algeria in combating wildfires.
The contract for the construction of four Be-200ES aircraft for Algeria, with an option for two additional units, was likely formalized in 2021. The first aircraft produced under this agreement, serial number 03-13, was originally part of a contract signed in December 2020 between the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations and Taganrog Aviation Scientific and Technical Complex. However, it was later allocated for Algeria, while the second aircraft, with serial number 03-14, intended for the Ministry of Emergency Situations, remains unfinished.
The second Be-200ES aircraft destined for Algeria, identified by factory number 03-12, is presently under construction at Taganrog Aviation Scientific and Technical Complex. Algeria anticipates the delivery of two more aircraft in 2024, with negotiations ongoing for the acquisition of two additional units.
This procurement represents a significant milestone for the Be-200 family, marking the first successful export contract for these versatile amphibious firefighting aircraft. With Algeria’s commitment to enhancing its firefighting capabilities, the Be-200ES Altair promises to play a crucial role in safeguarding the country’s landscapes and natural resources from the devastating impact of wildfires.
Meanwhile, the transport and logistics arm of the Algerian Air Force is about to be significantly enhanced with the addition of four new C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft from the United States. Algeria is also believed to be adding four Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A transports to its fleet but not much is known about this acquisition. The Algerian Air Force already operates thirteen Il-76MD and Il-76TD aircraft.
In January last year, the Algerian Air Force received its first Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules tactical transport aircraft it ordered from Lockheed Martin. The Super Hercules departed Lockheed Martin facilities in Greenville, South Carolina, and was noted by flight tracking providers on 21 January, wearing the Algerian civil registration livery and registration 7T-WJA. It was later spotted at Bangor International Airport in Maine on its delivery flight.
Subsequently, Lockheed Martin delivered the second C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to Algeria, which arrived at Boufarik air base on 24 April 2022. The C-130J (LM-100J) for Algeria is a former civil aircraft and was operated by Pallas Aviation as N5105A. It first flew in October 2017 and is the second LM-100J produced.