India to modernize 194 Su-30MKI fighters

The Su-30MKI is the key element in India’s strike force. Source: AP

The Su-30MKI is the key element in India’s strike force. Source: AP

India’s Ministry of Defence has initiated negotiations with Russia to modernize 194 Su-30MKI fighters and raise them to the level of 5th generation aircraft, in a deal worth eight billion dollars.

India has accelerated negotiations to begin the modernization of 194 Su-30MKI fighters, worth $ 8 billion, with Russia, reports the Defence News portal.

The Indian Defence Ministry plans to upgrade the status of these fighters to 5th generation aircraft. The updated aircraft will be named ‘Super Sukhoi’.

"The Russian delegation visited New Delhi in early July to discuss the modernization of the aircraft. The contract should be signed within the next four to six months," Defence News reported, quoting its source in the Defence Ministry.

The source said India was planning to upgrade 272 fighters in all and appeared confident that the programme "will not hurt the project of joint development of FGFA (fifth generation fighter aircraft) costing $ 25 billion”.

However, retired Air Marshal M Mathesvaran had a different opinion. He said, "the modernization of the Su-30 FGFA will definitely slow down the FGFA project." He believes the Indian Air Force would prefer to "maximize the modernization of the Su-30" rather than the new FGFA, the building of which will cost the country much more.

Another representative of the Indian Air Force believes that a modernized Su-30 cannot be compared with the FGFA, and that both projects will be implemented in parallel.

"The FGFA has a number of features that the Super Sukhoi does not. This includes an internal placement of weapons, improved stealth performance, integrated combat electronic system, cruising at supersonic speed. The Su-30 cannot be converted into a barely visible plane. Any alteration of the aircraft wing and materials to enhance its stealth capability will be very expensive and take a lot of time, and almost cost as much as the new project. The FGFA project as a whole cannot be closed because of the modernization of the Su-30,” he explained.

A Russian diplomat in New Delhi reportedly told the publication that "a contract for modernization of the aircraft version of Super Sukhoi has already been signed. The prototype will be made in Russia, and the modernization will be carried out in the facilities of the Indian state-owned company, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited."

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