Indian Air Force to order 12 more Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighters

The Indian Air Force is ordering 12 more Russian-designed Sukhoi-30 MKI very shortly, Military Leaks reports. Its bid for the fighters is expected to be cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and including the three chiefs next week.

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Indian Air Force to order 12 more Sukhoi Su 30 MKI fighters Sukhoi Su-30MKI operated by 2sqn, Indian Air Force, and based at Kalaikunda (Picture source: Wikipedia)

The purchase of the additional Sukhoi-30 MKIs is has come up as the Indian Air Force is short of fighters, its squadron strength down to the early 30s, instead of the allotted 40. A dozen fighters will give two-thirds of a much-needed squadron, Military Leaks comments. The IAF had just two squadrons of the French-made Dassault Rafale, but it still flies older aircraft, including the upgraded MiG-21 Bison.

The Sukhoi Su-30MKI (NATO reporting name: Flanker-H) is a twinjet multirole air superiority fighter built under license by India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF). A variant of the Sukhoi Su-30, it is a heavy, all-weather, long-range fighter.

Development of the variant started after India signed a deal with Russia in 2000 to manufacture 140 Su-30 fighter jets. The first Russian-made Su-30MKI variant was accepted into the Indian Air Force in 2002, while the first Su-30MKI assembled in India entered service with the IAF in 2004. The IAF has nearly 260 Su-30MKIs in inventory as of January 2020. The Su-30MKI is expected to form the backbone of the Indian Air Force's fighter fleet to 2020 and beyond.

The aircraft is tailor-made for Indian specifications and integrates Indian systems and avionics as well as French and Israeli sub-systems. It has abilities similar to the Sukhoi Su-35 with which it shares many features and components.