India intends to start upgrading its fleet of the Su-30MKI fighters in the immediate future, The Times of India states referring to Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria. Besides that, Delhi is also planning to purchase an additional lot of 21 MiG-29 fighters, according to the newspaper’s sources.
This information is accurate, two aircraft industry managers confirmed, specifying that the expected amount of two deals exceeds $2.5bn. “We are at a later stage of discussing for both projects, awaiting that the contracts will be signed in the immediate future,” – an official representative of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) confirmed when speaking to The Vedomosti. The newspaper says that India is considering the purchase of 12 Su-30MKI fighters to replenish its fleet for the aircraft losses during the almost 20-year period when this aircraft type has been in operation. This is a more distant project, a source in the military/technical cooperation system says.
The Su-30MKI program is one of the most successful examples of military/technical cooperation in the history of the two countries: the Irkutsk Aviation Plant (IAP; part of the Irkut corporation) delivered 272 aircraft to the Indian Air Forces (50 finished and 222 semi-finished aircraft for assembly at the HAL plant in Nashik). These aircraft have been sufficient for the Indian Air Forces to equip 13 fighting squadrons. The Su-30MKI has been the main combat aircraft of the Indian Air Forces for many years. It is only natural that the military client intends to get the most out of these fighters, a source in the defense industry says. This is why Su-30MKI modernization involves the installation of state-of-the-art avionics, a more powerful radar (potentially, a version of the Irbis radar system used in the Su-35), as well as modern electronic warfare systems, a source tells to The Vedomosti.
There is also a separate program under which 42 fighters will be re-equipped enabling the use of the Russian/Indian supersonic missile BrahMos. The manager of an aircraft plant links the purchase of MiG-29 fighters to the fact that, by 2022, of 11 MiG-21 squadrons.