- The top Russian aviation official responded that although there is no news on that front, Moscow is prepared to collaborate if New Delhi so desires.
- ThePrint was the first publication to publish on the IAF's intention to acquire more MiG-29s in 2019. The planes from the 1980s are no longer produced
In order to forward protracted negotiations for an upgrade of the Sukhoi-30 MKI fleet of the Indian Air Force (IAF), a delegation from the Russian defence sector will shortly visit India. Better radar, a more potent arsenal of munitions, a new cockpit system, and the incorporation of electronic warfare capabilities are all parts of the proposed update.
Russia also hopes that India would go ahead with its plans to acquire 12 more Su-30 MKI fighter jets to replace the ones it has lost in crashes over the years. Moscow also expects to finalise the purchase of 21 additional MiG-29 aircraft to supplement the IAF’s dwindling force.
The IAF is considering a massive contract for 114 new fighters, and while the French-made Rafale is the front-runner, Russia thinks it is the only nation that can provide a true Transfer of Technology (ToT) with more than 60% Indian content.
The IAF is thinking of using the Make in India process to buy 114 fighters.
“We have previously presented our idea for an upgrading programme” (Su-30 MKI). We have presented our entire offer on the table, and the conversation is still in progress. In answer to a question from ThePrint at ARMY-2022, an international military exhibition being hosted here in Moscow, Yury Slyusar, CEO of Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), said: “We hope to visit India in the near future and have a real discussion on that offer.
The UAC is the largest aircraft manufacturer in the nation. It is a publicly traded joint stock corporation, with the Russian government owning the bulk of its shares. The Sukhoi and MiG aviation enterprises, two of Russia’s leading manufacturers, amalgamated with the UAC in June.
The Super Sukhoi
The Su-30 MKI, which India first bought in 1996, has been the subject of discussions between New Delhi and Moscow. If the idea is approved, the enhanced aircraft will be called the Super Sukhoi.
The IAF has more than 160 Su-30 MKIs in its fleet, but discussions on an upgrade have stalled due to a number of factors, with cost being the most fundamental and significant issue because the IAF also plans to purchase 114 new fighters on a tight budget.
The specific figures are unknown, but IAF sources, the price for an update is too costly because it would require a complete overhaul rather than simply a simple extension of life.
The Su-30 MKI is the IAF’s primary fighter, however it suffers from a number of problems, including a lack of a more formidable weapons system and the inability to conduct electronic warfare. A saving grace has been the combination of roughly 40 Sukhois with the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, which have a range of about 300 kilometres.
The N011 Bars passive radar on the fighter jet would be swapped out by India’s own Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar called “Uttam” as part of the proposed upgrade.
The Su-30 family, which also includes the Russian Su-30 SM and the Malaysian Su-30 MKM (2007 model), includes the MKI version as its oldest member (2011 model).
With the help of the upgrade, it is hoped that the MKI will catch up to the Russian SM, which is armed with a variety of long-range missiles and intelligent bombs created as part of Russia’s Su-30 SM State Armament Program for the period of 2011 to 2020.
‘MiG only aircraft that can truly offer ToT’
Talks between India and Russia over the IAF’s 114 fighter jet programme are also in progress, UAC Chief Slyusar, who also stated that the MiG is the only aircraft that can truly provide ToT with 60% indigenous content.
He was making reference to the MiG-35, which Russia wants to sell to India.
The top Russian aviation official responded that although there is no news on that front, Moscow is prepared to collaborate if New Delhi so desires. This was in response to a question regarding a potential partnership with New Delhi in light of India’s intention to develop its own fifth-generation fighter aircraft called AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft).
Slyusar responded that India was considering the order for 12 Su-30 MKI and 21 MiG-29 aircraft.
ThePrint was the first publication to publish on the IAF’s intention to acquire more MiG-29s in 2019. The planes from the 1980s are no longer produced, but 21 of the airframes from those years are still in Russia.
Before being delivered, the jets India has acquired will receive an update to the most recent model.