A prototype of the new upgrade of India’s Sukhoi Su-30MKI to Super Sukhoi will be developed in Russia while the actual upgrades will be carried out indigenously in India.
“A prototype of the plane will be developed in Russia while the actual upgrades will be done at India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited,” Sputnik reported quoting an unnamed Russian diplomat as saying Saturday.
Moscow and New Delhi are negotiating plans to upgrade 194 Su-30MKIs to equal the next generation fighter at an estimated cost of $8 billion.
Irkut is currently negotiating to incorporate the AESA radar in the Sukhoi-30MKIs besides modernizing the cockpit with a head up display and other systems. This is designed such that it will be easier for the pilots to transition to the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft being developed jointly by India and Russia.
The Indian Air Force confirmed that the Su-30MKI upgrade will not impact the proposed Indo-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) program – worth $25 billion. Analysts believe, however, that a possible diversion of India’s defense funds towards the Super Sukhoi could delay the FGFA, Sputnik reported.
India and Russia first signed a Preliminary Development Agreement in 2011 to jointly build the FGFA, but a final agreement which will require a roughly $6 billion payment by New Delhi towards the development of the fighter jet has yet to be inked as the two sides continue to negotiate issues relating to production work share.
Dajit Singh, a retired IAF Air Marshal and defense analyst was quoted by Sputnik as saying that there will be significant differences between the upgraded Super Sukhoi and the coming FGFA fighter jet.
"FGFA has some distinct features, which Super Su-30MKI will not have," said Singh. "These include internal weapon-carrying bays to enhance stealth features, integrated internal fit of the electronic warfare suite, super-cruise capability and inherent stealth design."
“Su-30 cannot be redesigned as a stealth aircraft,” Singh continued. "Any changes of the wing design and material to improve stealth would be very expensive and time consuming and would be akin to a different design. Therefore, the FGFA project may not be canceled in total in view of the Su-30 upgrade."