India has finalized its decision to acquire 42 upgraded Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft from Russia to replace its ageing fleet of aircraft in the armed forces. The deal for the purchase of 42 upgraded Sukhoi's will be inked during the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Russia this week. The negotiations have stretched for a year since India wanted certain fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) and stealth features to be included.
The Indo-Russian summit in Russia’s capital is the reason behind the three-day visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Russia. The expansion of Indo-Russian bilateral cooperation and consolidation of other regional and global issues will also be discussed besides the inking of the upgraded Sukhoi deal. While the Cabinet Committee on Security had taken a decision on buying 42 additional upgraded Sukhoi MKIs, further negotiations ensued for want of additional FGFA features by India on the aircraft. As of now, Russia has agreed to upgrade the SU-30 MKIs to its latest version known as ‘Super Sukhoi’ with additional characteristics.
The newly upgraded Super Sukhoi aircraft will include a new cockpit, upgraded radar and certain stealth features to avoid radar detection. A strong advantage of the upgraded Sukhoi will be its ability to carry a heavier weapons load, especially the airborne version of the Brahmos cruise missile. India is also looking to upgrade most of its SU-30 MKIs for optimum performance in the future.
The upgradation of 42 Sukhoi’s will cost India roughly $ 4.44 billion. The deal will be operational in three years with the first delivery expected in 2014 and the last by 2018. India’s fleet of Su-30 MKI will reach a total of 272 once the 42 upgraded Sukhoi’s are inducted. India plans to deploy four squadrons of the advanced aircraft in the northeastern sector by 2015. The Super Sukhoi would be a potent weapons platform offering both ground attack of precision targets and air superiority roles.
The upgraded Su-30MKI will carry one BrahMos missile under its body and this missile is expected to weigh less than its land-based and naval counterparts. The Russia-India joint venture Brahmos Aerospace Private Limited, Sukhoi Holding and HAL are jointly engaged in developing the airborne version of the missile. BrahMos Aerospace hopes to see BrahMos missiles launched from the aircraft in late 2012.