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Indian Air Force to get 12 more Su-30MKIs to compensate for lost airframes

Amid rising concerns of depleting squadron strength within the Indian Air Force, New Delhi is now looking forward to signing the deal for 12 Su-30MKI fighter aircraft this year.

As per Times Now, the Rs.10,000 crore package is expected to be approved by Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in a meeting next week, which will be attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the three service chiefs.

The 12 aircraft will be procured as knock-down kits which will be locally assembled by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Nashik. The aircraft will also incorporate several Israeli and Indian systems, as a part of a wide plethora of sub-components exclusive to Indian Air Force’s Sukhoi fleet. 

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India has officially procured a total of 272 Su-30MKI in multiple batches since 2002. However, 10 airframes were written-off in crashes. The order will compensate for lost aircraft as well. The production of 12 units will also ensure that the dedicated HAL facility in Nashik will remain active for at least one more year due to its capacity to roll out 12 airframes per annum. 

The plan to induct additional Su-30MKI was initiated in June 2020 along with 21 MiG-29UPG, as tensions simmered along the Sino-Indian border back then.

Designed by Russian aerospace giant Sukhoi, the Su-30MKI is a heavyweight multirole fighter aircraft touted as “first line of defence” due to its wide availability in the Indian Air Force, constituting 12 squadrons precisely. 

DAC is also expected to clear the acquisition of  70 HTT-40 basic trainer aircraft for the IAF. These have been indigenously developed by HAL and are also desperately needed in service as IAF faces shortages of basic trainers. IAF’s fleet presently is complemented by Swiss origin PC-7 “Pilatus”, but additional order for which had been shelved to favour the development of its indigenous counterpart: the HAL HTT-40. 

The DAC could potentially clear about 50 suites of electronic warfare equipment made by Bharat Electronics, valued at about Rs 2,000 crore. All three projects involve a level of indigenisation, keeping in mind the government’s aim of “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” (Self Reliant India).