Asia Defense

India to Buy 18 More Su-30MKI Fighter Jets From Russia

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Asia Defense

India to Buy 18 More Su-30MKI Fighter Jets From Russia

The Russian government is reportedly processing a request from the Indian Air Force for 18 more Su-30MKIs.

India to Buy 18 More Su-30MKI Fighter Jets From Russia
Credit: Indian Air Force/Wikimedia Commons

India seeks to procure an additional 18 Sukhoi Su-30MKI multirole air superiority fighter aircraft from Russia, according to the Deputy Director of Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation Vladimir Drozhzhov.

“We have fully met our commitments on delivering all technological sets of Su-30MKI fighter jets and have received an additional bid for another 18 technological sets,” Drozhzhov was quoted as saying by TASS news agency on July 9. “The bid is being worked out,” he added.

The aircraft are to be delivered in kit form for local assembly by Indian state-owned aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Nashik in western India. In the past, HAL has offered to license-produce 40 additional Sukhoi Su-30MKIs for the IAF.  According to previous media reports, the IAF has been considering placing a follow-up order of eighteen Su-30MKIs for some time.

Drozhzhov also noted that Russia has completed delivery of all components to license-build 222 Su-30MKIs.

According to reporting by IHS Jane’s, “along with the powerpack, missile systems, and other major components, Russia has also provided HAL with 5,803 types of titanium blocks and forgings as well as aluminum and steel plates to assemble the aircraft.” Additionally, Russia “provided HAL with about 7,100 ‘standard components’ that include nuts, bolts, and rivets.”

50 percent of components of the Su-30MKI are either Indian-made or supplied by foreign vendors other than Russia. As I wrote in May 2018:

The twin-seater, twin-engine Su-30MKI, developed by Russian aircraft maker Sukhoi and license-built in India, constitutes the backbone of the IAF. While the first 50 Su-30 aircraft were built in Russia, the remaining fighter jets were assembled in India. The IAF originally received the older Su-30MK variant from Russia, which the Indian defense industry in partnership with Russian defense companies upgraded to the MKI standard.

Unlike the Russian Su-30SM, the MKI version includes Israeli and French avionics. For example, the aircraft is fitted with a French-made heads-up display system, and an Israeli electronic warfare system and an advanced targeting pod. The Su-30MKI also features AL-37FP thrust-vectoring engines and canard foreplanes for increased maneuverability. HAL and Sukhoi are currently negotiating a contract for the upgrade of older Su-30MKI models in service with the IAF.

The IAF plans to upgrade its fleet of SU-30MKI to “Super Sukhois,” which includes fitting the aircraft with new long-range, precision-strike weapons systems, upgraded engines, and more advanced avionics. 

The IAF is also looking to modify 40 Su-30MKI aircraft to carry the air-launched BrahMos-A supersonic cruise missile. As of now, two IAF Su-30 MKIs have been converted to fire the new missile. The 18 additional Su-30MKI aircraft currently under negotiation would likely be assembled with the capability to carry the BrahMos-A.

The IAF fleet of Su-30MKIs currently consists of around operational 200 aircraft. As of December 2018, HAL has manufactured 202 Su-30MKI aircraft in India. (The first 50 aircraft were built in Russia and delivered to India in fly-away condition.) The IAF is expected to deploy 272 Su-30MKI aircraft by 2021 grouped into 14 squadrons.