Amid the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the Indian Air Force’s plans to upgrade the fleet of its Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft has been put on the backburner for now.
The deal for the 12 most advanced Su-30MKI aircraft worth over Rs 20,000 crore would also be delayed slightly as the stakeholders will now have to add more Made-in-India content in the planes as per the current policy of the government to promote Indian defence products over imports, government sources told ANI.
The Indian Air Force was planning to upgrade 85 of their planes up to the latest standards in collaboration with the Russians and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The plan has been put on the backburner for now in view of the present situation, the sources said.
The plan was to equip the Su-30 aircraft with more powerful radars and the latest electronic warfare capabilities to make it more powerful as per the latest standards, the sources said.
The Su-30 MKIs form the mainstay of the Indian Air Force as 272 of them have been ordered by the IAF in different batches as every time shortage of fighter jets in service was highlighted, the Russian manufacturers would receive an order of 30 to 40 of these planes.
The aircraft are supplied by the Russian manufacturers to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in semi and complete knocked-down kits and then they are assembled in the Nasik facility.
The ongoing conflict in Russia and Ukraine has also resulted in delays in the supply of spares for the fighter aircraft fleet.
Sources said even though the spares situation is manageable at the moment and expected to remain so in the near future as India had stocked them up in a considerable amount post the Uri surgical strikes and the ongoing China conflict.
However, it is expected that the supply of these spares and other equipment may become an issue in near future and that is why, the force has gone on an indigo ration spree of its imported equipment.