Several factors have shelved the Indian Air Force’s plan to upgrade its Sukhoi-30MKI fighter aircraft fleet. The factors include the war between Russia and Ukraine and current policy of Make-in-India of the Indian government. IAF had planned 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 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, people aware of the situation in the Indian government told news agency ANI. IAF 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 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. In the latest update on the Ukraine-Russia war, around 60 people sheltering in a village school in east Ukraine are feared dead after it was hit by an air strike, the Lugansk regional governor said on Sunday.