India has approached Russia for purchase of additional 18 Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters for the country’s air force to address the shortfall of combat aircraft, according to a report by Business Standard.
The report says that India’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) has requested Moscow to supply HAL with the necessary raw materials and sub-systems required to build addition squadron of Sukhois. At present, HAL Nashik is manufacturing 222 of the fighters as part of an existing contract under a Russian license.
India is looking to initiate production of the additional Sukhoi squadron as early as next year. The Indian Air Force (IAF) could have to shell out approximately INR 5,850 crore for 18 extra fighters considering the current rate of INR 450 crore per unit.
If the latest request for additional fighters is approved by the Russians, the IAF will eventually end up with a total of 14 Sukhoi squadrons, a total of 290 fighters.
India first purchased the Sukhoi Su-30 MKI in 1996, and since then the aircraft has received constant upgrades. Russia incorporated canards and a thrust-vectoring engine into the aircraft at the instance of the IAF, which demanded improved aerodynamic performance.
The Air Force has been highlighting the shortage of planes to fight a two-front war. Due to lack of inductions in the force, the Su-30MKI has become the mainstay, as 11 to 12 squadrons would be deployed by 2020.