India has requested Russia to prolong the licence for manufacturing the Su-30MKI aircraft at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) facilities in India which could mean an additional order for the multi role righter is on track once the 222 planes under the current order are delivered to the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Informed sources told defenseword.net that the request had been made through the Russian agency for military-technical cooperation. Once approved, it could set the ball rolling for extending the life of Su-30SMKI assembly plant at HAL’s Nashik facility.
Media reports had earlier said an order for 18 additional Su-30MKI jets, comprising a squadron was in the pipeline and could be taken beyond the 2019-20 timeframe when the current order with HAL is said to expire. 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 Su-30MKI jets, the reports had said.
HAL has manufactured 202 aircraft so far by sourcing kits from Russia under a licence-manufacturing agreement. HAL might have to pay licence fee for the right to manufacture the jets. If the 18-order comes through, this will be the single biggest aircraft fleet with the IAF adding up to some 290 jets.
HAL was facing the prospect of its Su-30MKI assembly line falling silent but with the proposed new order, the Su=30MKI could continue to roll of the assembly line for 2-3 years. The Su-30MKI has in the past two years been upgraded to carry the Brahmos cruise missile and locally-made beyond-visual range missiles.