Russia and India have signed an agreement to perform design work on the fifth generation ‘S’ version of the SU-35 that maybe the Indian variant of the fighter jet, Russian Military Complex chief was quoted as saying by DefenseNews
"We have been negotiating and have signed the intention protocol for the Su-35," Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov was quoted as saying during the IDEX show in Abu Dhabi last month. "Now we are working on designing ideas for this contract and on creating a manufacturing platform for the aircraft of the fifth generation."
The jet would be developed to meet Indian Air Force’s requirements. The number of jets India might plan on buying has not been revealed so far. Indian Defense ministry however has not confirmed about any deal being signed with Russia on the new variant.
“Russia had made one or two SU-35S presentations in the past six months on how it can help India can replace its MiGs which are on the verge of retirement in seven or eight years,” Defense news quoted an unnamed Air Force Official as saying.
The fighter is pegged at $85 million according to Russian industry sources. That could make it competitive with Dassault Aviation's Rafale, and could have implications for India's proposed purchase of 126 Rafales. New Delhi selected the Rafale as the preferred bidder in a protracted competition in 2012, but has yet to make a final decision on the purchase.
"If (India) needs additional Su-30MKI fighters, then we are ready to work out such an agreement," Sergei Goreslavsky, deputy director of Russia's arms export agency Rosoboronexport, told the RIA Novosti news agency on Feb. 16. India operates a large fleet of Sukhoi Su-30 fighters, some of which have been locally produced by HAL.
And Russia's RSK MiG says it would offer an upgraded version of its developmental MiG-35 if India reopens the tender.
"We have every chance to compete [for the contract]," MiG chief Sergei Korotkov said at Aero India on Feb. 18. "We have not lost hope that a future tender or competition will be announced."
"India wants to buy advanced systems like the Rafale, even at a higher cost," he said. "[But] dependence on Russians will remain ... and it would be difficult to find the resources to replace these with advanced systems immediately."
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the Su-35S would enter Russian service this year as part of the expansion of the Air Force and Naval Aviation branch.
"Currently, we're testing a new Su-35S multifunctional fighter jet. This year, the new aircraft should enter service. This is the main task for this year," Shoigu said in February.