India’s fleet of Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter aircraft are suffering multiple failures of its cockpit display system, if leaked documents are to be believed.
According to a communiqué between HAL and Irkut Corp dated 28 February 2014, the MC-1 or Mission Computer 1 and the head-up display (HUD) of the Su-30MKI has recorded “multiple cases of repeated failure”.
HAL, in its letter, says all head-up displays and multi-functional displays on the Russian fighter repeatedly “blanked-off” and that it has reached out to the Russians including Vladimir Lagutkin, Dy. Chief of Division, Rosoboronexport and V A Borodich, Senior VP of Military Aviation Project at Irkut Corp as well as O D Pankov, Chief Designer at the Sukhoi Design Bureau for remedial measures.
The letter also states that HAL had reached out to the Russian side on at least two occasions in March and April ’13 but received no response in return.
The documents were stolen by a group calling itself the ‘Russian Cyber Command’ (RCC) who launched an attack on the Indian embassy’s network systems in Moscow in an effort to steal some 1000 documents concerning Rosoboronexport’s dealings with India and other countries which import arms from Russia.
It is not clear if the display problems referred to by HAL are in reference to the SU-30s imported from Russia or the later aircraft licence-manufactured by HAL with the display systems and other electronics sourced from international vendors.
The tandem glass cockpit of the Su-30MKI accommodates two pilots. The forward cockpit is equipped with an integrated avionics suite with the Elbit Su 967 head-up display (HUD), seven active-matrix liquid crystal displays (AMLCD) and primary cockpit instrumentation from Thales. The HAL-built aircraft are equipped with multifunction displays (MFD) supplied by Samtel Display Systems.
The Su-30MKI is also equipped with a N011M passive electronically scanned array radar, OLS-30 laser-optical locator system and Litening target designation pod to guide air-to-surface missile and laser guided munitions.
In 1996, New Delhi ordered eight Su-30K fighters and 32 Su-30MKI aircraft with enhanced avionics, engines and weapons and in 2000 HAL and Rosoboronexport signed a contract for the license production of Su-30MKI aircraft.
India, as of January 2013, operates approximately 150 Su-30MKIs but this number is set to grow to 222 taking into account total number of orders.
Under the terms of that contract, HAL will produce a total of 140 Su-30MKIs in four phases to complete the programme by 2015.
The Indian Air Force took delivery of the first ten Russian-made Su-30MKI aircraft in mid-2002 and the second batch of 12 aircraft was handed over in 2003.
The first Su-30MKI assembled by HAL was rolled out in November 2004 and the first two aircraft was delivered in March 2005. In 2007, the IAF placed an order with HAL for 40 Su-30MKIs.