Combat aircraft are among the most important single weapons systems in any country’s arsenal. They are not only the most lethal, but also the most flexible – and most visible – form of military power.
More often than not, combat aircraft can be highly effective alone due to their sheer presence – without firing a single shot. Unsurprisingly, aircraft and air forces not only gobble apparently disproportional chunks of defense budgets, but also provide disproportional effects relative to their number.
The answer usually lies in the operational history, combat experiences and threat assessments of the air forces in question.
Uganda was the first African country to buy Su-30 fighter-bombers from Russia. While this acquisition was often explained by the possible requirement to protect oil sources, the local air force made the decision to buy Su-30s, for a host of different reasons.
Uganda’s Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker
Type: Two Seat long-range multi-role interceptor
Max Speed: 1,320 mph/2,125 km/h
Max Range: 1,864 miles/3,000 km
Dimensions Span: 48ft 3in/14.7m Length 72ft/21.9m Height 19ft 6in/5.9m
Weight: Maximum take-off 83,775 lb/38,000 kg
Armament: Su-30 maximum load is 17,636lb/8,000kg. Typical armament comprises 10 AAMs, including a mix of up to 6 extended-range AA-10 Alamo and up to 6 R-73 close-air combat AAMs, with options of AA-12 Adder
Most of the reasons for the purchase of this jets were related to the Ugandan involvement in the Congo Wars fought between 1996 and 2003 and,Rwanda -Uganda Kisangani wars,Uganda’s pursuit of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Both experiences at the time showed that the Ugandan air force needed a long-range, multi-role fighter-bombers – simply because of the requirement to hit targets that were hopelessly outside the range of existing jets mostly especially outside Uganda’s airspace.
Uganda’s Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker
Type: single-seat all-weather counter-air fighter
Max Speed: 1,345 kt / 1550 mphMax Range1500 km / 930miles
Dimensions span: 14.70 m / 48 ft 2.75 in length 21.935 m / 71 ft 11.5 in height 5.932 m / 19 ft 5.5 in
Weight-max. take-off 30,000 kg / 66,138 lb
Power-plant: two 12500-kg (27,557-lb) after burning thrust Lyul’ka AL-31F turbofans
Armament: one 30-mm GSh-30-1 cannon with 149 rounds; provision for about 6000 kg (13,228 Ib) of disposable stores, including AAMs, bombs and rocket-launcher pods, carried on 10 external hard-points
With Ugandan pilots already trained on such Eastern types as the SU-30,SU-27,MiG-21 and L-39 and the necessity of replacing a miscellany of combat types already done, the Su-30,SU-27 is actually a logical choice that president Museveni can mobilize and order for deployment in case of any fierce threats on Uganda.
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 Fishbed
Type: multi-role fighter
Max Speed: 1,203 kt / 1,385 mphMax Range1,160 km / 721 miles
Dimensions span: 7.15 m / 23 ft 5.5 in length 15.76 m / 51 ft 8.5 in height 4.10 m / 13 ft 5.4 in
Weight: empty 5,200 kg / 11,464 lb max. take-off 22,925 lb / 10,400 kg
Powerplant: one 7500-kg (16,535-lb) after-burning thrust Tumanskii R-25 turbojet
Armament: one 23-mm GSh-23 two-barrel cannon with 200 rounds, plus four underwing pylons suitable for AA-2 ‘Atoll’ orAA-8 ‘Aphid’ AAMs, UV-16-57 rocket launchers, 500- or 250-kg (1,102- or 551-lb) bombs, S-24 240-mm(9.45-in) air-to-surface rockets, or drop tanks
Operators:Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Angola, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Congo, Republic of the, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Czech Republic, Guinea, Croatia, India, North Korea, Laos, Slovakia, Libya, Madagascar, Mongolia, Mali, Nigeria, Poland, Guinea-Bissau, Romania, Serbia, Sudan, Syria, Uganda, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia
Angola followed in fashion and placed an order for Su-30s for similar reasons, and also its own wars against local insurgents. Angola also needed to outmatch Botswana’s CF-5s in the event of a border dispute as the same is happening now between Uganda and Rwanda.
If Uganda launched an attack on a small country like Rwanda it would be a matter of hours to crash Rwanda to grass level according Russian Air-force Brigade .