Algiers and Moscow are considering a huge military deal for next year, coinciding with the increase in Tebboune's defence budget

Eje Rusia-Argelia: contrato militar de 12.000 millones en negociación

AP/ANIS BELGHOUL - Crowds cheer soldiers in a tank during a military parade to mark the 60th anniversary of Algeria's independence

Algeria's armed forces are celebrating. The military equipment of Algeria's armies could benefit from a major overhaul thanks to the potential deal that Algiers and Moscow are negotiating. Sources in the specialised media Africa Intelligence speak of a contract worth up to 12 billion US dollars. All of this would be earmarked for acquisitions and modernisation of the Algerian arsenal. 

The news confirms the suspicions of several military analysts that Algeria is doomed to depend on Russia for its weapons systems. Military technology and its practical use are affected by a compatibility factor that ties user armies to several suppliers in many cases. This is the hypothesis pointed out by Moroccan analyst and former diplomat Mohamed Loulichki in an interview when questioned about Algeria's possibilities for arming itself in the future. 

AP/TOUFIK DOUDOU - Argelia celebra el 60º aniversario de su independencia de Francia con ceremonias en todo el país

This massive purchase of weapons systems would be backed by the huge increase in defence budgets that the Algerian government intends to approve by 2023. A document circulated among Algerian parliamentarians in mid-October, to which Atalayar has had access, indicates a 130 per cent increase in defence spending. The nearly 10 billion US dollars that Algeria has historically spent over the past decade would now rise to 23 billion USD. This increase is made possible by the rising cost of gas and hydrocarbons as a result of the war in Ukraine. 

Algeria is once again choosing sides and moving closer to Russia. Secretary of State Blinken's attempts to warn the Algerian "pouvoir" not to take this path have been in vain. It remains to be seen whether and in what form Washington will in future implement CAATSA sanctions designed to prevent international purchases of weapons systems from Russia. 

AFP/ RYAD KRAMDI - Soldados argelinos desfilan por una calle de la capital, Argel, el 5 de julio de 2022, cuando el país celebra el 60º aniversario de su independencia

So far, Blinken has not taken a decision to apply CAATSA sanctions against Algeria, as several US parliamentarians have called on him to do during the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Washington and Algiers do not have bad relations, even if the "Pouvoir" is increasingly turning towards Moscow. A way for Blinken to keep the doors open.  The news of this gigantic arms purchase from Moscow and the pivot exerted by Iran, Algeria and Moscow in an attempt to penetrate further into Africa could be a turning point in the direction of Algeria's relations with the United States. Mohamed Loulichki, in an interview with the official Moroccan media Le 360, stated that with their new budget for 2023, the Algerian military led by Said Chengriha could well put on the table an "export" of their armed forces in Mali to replace, alongside the Russian Wagner group, the vacuum left by France and European countries in terms of security needs. 

One of these acquisitions could be Sukhoi's future air superiority fighter, the Su-75 Checkmate. According to statements by CNA analyst Samuel Bennet in July, Algeria could become the first international buyer of this stealth fighter, which is still under development and lacks a large number of tests, especially after the commercial disaster of the Su-57. The Checkmate is intended to directly rival Lockheed Martin's US F-22 and F-35, but is considerably behind schedule. Should Algeria obtain these aircraft in the next few years, it would enjoy considerable air superiority over Morocco, which essentially operates a fleet of F-16s modernised to the latest standards. Morocco is unlikely to acquire F-35s in the future, which the US reserves almost exclusively for military partners that do not have Russian and Chinese material in their arsenal. A security obligation to keep secret the systems that make the F-35 stealthy. Morocco has Chinese and Russian weapons systems at its bases, drones and anti-aircraft missile systems. 

AFP/ RYAD KRAMDI - Soldados argelinos participan en una parada en la capital, Argel, el 5 de julio de 2022, cuando el país celebra el 60º aniversario de su independencia

If the Su-75 scenario in Algeria is still far off, given the stage of development of the aircraft, it is less so for the Su-57. With a few improvements to correct the errors detected in the aircraft's stealth system, Algeria could indeed acquire Su-57s. Since as early as 2019, several Russian defence news portals have been claiming that the North African republic's military was very interested in the Su-57. This interest was confirmed by Samuel Bennet in July 2022. 

One thing is certain, however, and that is that Algeria's defence assets, while numerous, are in need of modernisation across the board. The parade of the armed forces celebrating the 60th anniversary of the country's independence was headlined by analysts as a lack of new weapons systems. Algeria is still operating old BMP-1s and 2s, relics of the Cold War, which are seen to suffer daily in the Ukrainian theatre of war.

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