The Indian state-owned company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has manufactured the last two Su-30MKIs of the 272 aircraft contracted from Russia and is all set to deliver them to the Indian Air Force (IAF). One aircraft is certified and inducted for BrahMos modification. Another aircraft has been produced and planned to be certified by February end. India had contracted the Su-30s from Russia in batches of which 222 were assembled by HAL at its Nasik plant under Transfer of technology (ToT) since 2004. Of the 272 fighters, 40 are being modified to carry the air launched version of the supersonic cruise missile BrahMos. The IAF has started receiving the aircraft and has deployed some at Thanjavur air base in Tamil Nadu last year.
Last year, the Indian Defence Acquisition Council approved the procurement of 12 Sukhoi Su-30MKI aircraft from Russia to be licence-produced by HAL. These are meant to replace the Su-30MKIs in the inventory that had crashed over the years. While the Sukhoi assembly line would largely wind down, the Aircraft Overhaul Division at Nasik would continue the repair and overhaul of the MiG series and the Su-30s. Over the years, HAL has developed over 2000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) vendor base for the Sukhoi project. HAL is now in the process of ramping its capacity to overhaul the SU-30MKIs from 15 aircraft per year to 25.
A major upgrade programme for the entire fleet is under negotiation with Russia to give the aircraft better radar, avionics and weapons among others. Initially, it was envisaged that all upgrades would be incorporated per aircraft at one go but given the cost and time that it would take to cover the entire fleet, the IAF has decided to go for capability upgrades in phases. Some of the most pressing upgrades would be taken up in the first phase. India is planning to increase Su-30MKIs BVR engagement capability by arming its entire fleet with the indigenous Astra BVR missil and Israeli Derby. The Su-30MKI is expected to form the backbone of the Indian Air Force’s fighter fleet to 2020 and beyond.
The Sukhoi Su-30MKI (NATO reporting name: Flanker-H) is a twinjet multirole air superiority fighter developed by Russia’s Sukhoi and built under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the Indian Air Force. Development of the variant started after India signed a deal with Russia in 2000 to manufacture 140 Su-30 fighter jets. The first Su-30MKI variant was accepted into the Indian Air Force in 2002, while the first Su-30MKI assembled in India entered service with the IAF in 2004. The aircraft is tailor-made for Indian specifications and integrates Indian systems and avionics as well as French and Israeli sub-systems. It has abilities similar to the Sukhoi Su-35 with which it shares many features and components.