The Indian Air Force is ordering 12 Russian-designed Sukhoi-30 MKI very shortly. Its bid for the fighters, a Rs 10,000 crore package, is expected to be cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and including the three chiefs next week. The purchase of the additional Sukhois has come up as the IAF is short of fighters, its squadron strength down to the early 30s, instead of the allotted 40. A dozen fighters will give two-thirds of a much-needed squadron. The IAF had just two squadrons of the Rafale, but it still flies older aircraft, including the upgraded MiG-21 Bison.
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 India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The aircraft is tailor-made for Indian specifications and integrates Indian systems and avionics as well as state of the art avionics developed by Russia, India and Israel for display, navigation, targeting and electronic warfare; France and South Africa provided other avionics. It has abilities similar to the Sukhoi Su-35 with which it shares many features and components.
Su-30MKI aerodynamic configuration is a longitudinal triplane with relaxed stability. The canard increases the aircraft lift ability and deflects automatically to allow high angle of attack (AoA) flights allowing it to perform Pugachev’s Cobra. The integral aerodynamic configuration combined with thrust vectoring results in extremely capable manoeuvrability, taking off and landing characteristics. The Su-30MKI has a range of 3,000 km with internal fuel which ensures a 3.75 hour combat mission. Also, it has an in-flight refueling (IFR) probe that retracts beside the cockpit during normal operation.
On 11 October 2012, the Indian Government confirmed plans to buy another 42 Su-30MKI aircraft. On 24 December 2012, India ordered assembly kits for 42 Su-30MKIs by signing a deal during President Putin’s visit to India. This increases India’s order total to 272 Su-30MKIs. In June 2018, India has reportedly decided not to order any further Su-30s as they feel its cost of maintenance is very high compared to Western aircraft. In June 2020, India decided to place an order for 12 more Su-30MKI aircraft along with 21 MiG-29s. The Su-30MKI order is to compensate for losses due to crashes to maintain the sanctioned strength of 272 Su-30MKIs.