Algeria to return 15 MiG fighters to Russia over inferior qlty:Media

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Moscow, Feb 18 (UNI) Algeria has decided to return to Russia 15 MiG fighters delivered in 2006-07, a leading Russian business daily reported today.

Quoting a source in the state-owned United Aircraft Building Corporation, Kommersant said the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, Russia's state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport, the MiG Corporation, and the Algerian Air Force had signed an agreement on the return of the MiGs last week.

The Russian Industry and Energy Ministry had confirmed the deal, it added.

The MiGs are to be returned within the next few months. However, the source said this did not mean the previous contract has now been torn up, and Russia would offer Algeria more advanced airplanes, MiG-29M2s or MiG-35s.

Rosoboronexport signed a 1.28 billion dollars contract for the delivery of 29 one-seat MiG-29SMT Fulcrum fighters and six two-seat MiG-29UB fighters in March 2006 as part of an eight billion dollar military-technical cooperation agreement with Algeria.

Deliveries were to be made from March 2007 until February 2008, but Algeria began refusing deliveries from May 2007, demanding that Russia take back the first 15 aircraft it had delivered, citing the ''inferior quality'' of certain components and units.

In October 2007, Algeria stopped payments on other military contracts pending the return of the MiGs.

Experts suggest Algeria may have opted instead for French Rafale fighters as France builds up its presence in the North African state.

UNI XC RJ RS1823

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