With multiple projects being juggled by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the delivery of the 81 Su-30 MKI fighter planes may not happen as per the schedule laid in the contract. While Minister of State for Defence M.M Pallam Raju announced that 99 fighters out of the total 180 Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft have been delivered till 2010-11, the delivery of 81 fighters by HAL before 2014-15 seems highly doubtful.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) had entered into an agreement with HAL for the supply of 180 Su-30 MKI by 2014-15. The unlikelihood of the delivery of remaining 81 fighters by 2014-15 hinges on the manufacturing capability and output of HAL which is limited. HAL’s shortcoming is its limited assembly line According to sources, HAL’s assembly line can only produce 16 aircraft per year. Hence, HAL can only produce 64 aircraft by 2014-15 and will need another year to deliver the 17 other fighter planes.
Owing to this speculation, Indian Defence Ministry has asked HAL to adopt means to increase the speed of their manufacturing of Su-30 MKI fighters. HAL intends to step-up the manufacturing of the fighters by commissioning additional tooling jigs & fixtures, increased outsourcing, reduction in cycle time by more efficient processes and operations and timely actions through Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and recruitment of more manpower in major work centres.
In October 2000, Russia and India agreed on transfer of license and technical documentation to India for production of 140 Su-30 MKI Aircraft including its engines and aggregates. The Government sanction for this deal was issued in January 2001 and as per the sanction, the production capacity envisaged was 12 aircraft per year. While the project was to commence from the year 2004-05 and be completed by 2017-18, the Air Headquarters requested HAL to explore the feasibility of compressing the delivery programme by three years. Accordingly, HAL submitted a proposal and a compressed delivery of 140 aircraft within 2014-15 was approved and production capacity was hiked to16 aircraft per year. Subsequent to CCS Sanctions, contracts were concluded with IAF for supply of 140 Su-30 MKI aircraft by 2014-15. Further contract for supply of additional 40 SU-30 MKI aircraft was concluded with IAF for completion within 2014-15, along with earlier order of 140 aircraft.
Although the in-service Su-30 MKI with the IAF receives less publicity than the Tejas LCA and the upcoming MMRCA, the Su-30MKI is the service's backbone and has represented India in several international exercises. The IAF already have inducted more than 110 Sukhois out of original 230 aircraft and the additional 42 would took the total strength to 272 fighters. The Defence Minister had earlier indicated that the procurement cost of the Sukhoi-30 MKI amounts to over $ 12.38 billion.
The Su-30 MKI are built under license at HAL’s five divisions in Nasik, Koraput, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Korwa. These are later assembled, integrated, test-flown and delivered from Nasik. HAL’s overall production rate of Su-30MKI during 2009-2010 was falling far behind expectations. HAL had earlier claimed that there have been delays in Su-30 MKI production due to late receipt of drawings from Russia.