Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has manufactured 202 Su-30MKI fighter jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF) as on December 2018 making it the highest number so far made under license from the Russian OEM.
Of the 202 aircraft manufactured, 198 have already been delivered to the IAF for squadron service, HAL spokesperson Gopal Sutur told Defenseworld.net adding that the full order of 222 fighter jets would be completed during the 2019-20 financial year. With the completion of the manufacturing order, the IAF will have received the full complement of 272 fighter jets it had ordered from Russia with 50 aircraft delivered in a fly-away condition earlier.
Meanwhile, IAF could order an additional 8 Su-30MKI jets to make up for aircraft lost in crashes, IAF sources were quoted as saying by TV news service ANI. Some other reports have said that 40 more jets could be ordered but the IAF has not confirmed these reports.
The completion of the Su-30MKI order by HAL would render idle facilities set up to manufacture the aircraft from ‘raw material state,’ a term used to describe advanced assembly and integration as some key parts and sub-systems called ‘kits’ still come from Russia besides some avionics and electronic systems specific to the Su-30MKI coming from non-Russian vendors. HAL is hoping for additional orders to sustain its manufacturing plant and also expects the next lot of Su-30MKI jets to have some more advancements over the current jets.
Russia had proposed an engine with a higher thrust in addition to a more advanced radar as part of a ‘Super Sukhoi’ upgrade program. The Super Sukhoi would be able to carry an increased weapons load and precision-guided weapons. Meanwhile, the plan to retro-fit 40 Su-30MKI jets with the Brahmos cruise missile had initiated a proposal to manufacture 40 additional jets. “We are required to modify 40-odd Sukhoi-30s to carry the BrahMos ALCM [air-launched cruise missile]. Instead of upgrading older fighters, with a shorter residual lifespan, it would be better to build three more squadrons of Sukhois with the capability to carry BrahMos missiles,” For HAL chairman Suvarna Raju had been quoted as saying in mid-2018.
In terms of deployment, the IAF has stationed the Su-30MKI in most of its front-line airfields with some new ones set up over the previous two years. It plans to host both the Su-30MKI and the proposed Dassault Rafale together at its Hasimara air base near the Indo-Chinese border in Bengal State.