New Delhi: Russia is ready to deliver Sukhoi Su-30 MKI and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 fighter jets to India in the shortest possible timeframe. In a government to government deal which comes amidst the India-China border tension, the Indian Air Force (IAF) plans to order and induct 33 fighters – 12 Sukhoi Su-30 MKIs and 21 MiG-29s – from Russia.
WION has learnt that Russia is ready to assess the issue of early delivery even as the country is already helping the IAF in the MiG-29 modernisation programme. IAF got its first MiG-29 in 1985 and the modernisation will help increase combat capabilities of the MiG-29 fighters to a level comparable to the 4th Generation jets.
Post-modernisation MiG-29s will allow integration of Russian and foreign origin weapons including tracking of aerial targets in a wide range of flight speeds and altitudes, tracking of heat-contrasting air objects & perform “hidden” (without the use of radar) attacks on them. Modern materials and technologies for corrosion protection will increase the service life of MiG-29 fighters by up to 40 years.
The IAF commissioned its first squadron of Su-30MKIs armed with the supersonic BrahMos-A cruise missile in January 2020 at Thanjavur Air Force Station. The Su-30MKI based at Thanjavur are part of the 222 Squadron ‘Tigersharks’.
In fact, the importance of Sukhoi jets can be gauged from the fact that it is the only IAF combat aircraft capable of launching BrahMos supersonic missiles.
At DefExpo India 2020 BrahMos Aerospace’s representative told Russian RIA Novosti news agency that in two years IAF’s Su-30MKIs would receive new missiles for use against airborne early warning aircraft. Thus the highly successful India-Russia joint venture which produced BrahMos, could enter the air-to-air missile domain.
The first contract to deliver Su-30MKI jets to the IAF was signed on November 30, 1996, in Irkutsk, Russia, between Rosvooruzhenie state intermediary company and the Indian Defence Ministry. It envisaged the delivery of 32 Su-30s, all of which were produced in 2002-2004.
Satisfied with the performance of the aircraft, the Indian Defence Ministry placed additional orders. In December 2000, both countries signed a contract for organising the licensed production of Su-30MKIs in India at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited facilities. Then in 2012, another contract for technological kits of Su-30MKIs was signed as the Sukhois have proved to be a reliable and effective multirole heavy aerial combat platform for the IAF.
The Su-30MKI project has become one of the largest in the history of military cooperation of India with a foreign country and also has contributed to the sales of Su-30MK family aircraft to other countries.
Moreover, the programme has directly influenced the development of Su-30SM fighter jet, which is currently being delivered to the Russian Air Force and is also being offered at the international arms market as Su-30SME.