The Indian Air Force is in talks with Russia for an urgent procurement of 21 MiG 29 fighter aircraft in a contract valued at INR 6,000 Crore ($847 million).
The jets are required to be delivered at a short notice as India has been facing acute shortage of combat aircraft. The plan to acquire the Russian aircraft to make a new squadron of MiG 29 jets was discussed in detail last month, Economic Times reported Wednesday.
The price of each jet will be nearly INR 285 Crore ($40.2 million) that includes weapon systems, training and other supporting equipment required for a new squadron. The negotiations are being carried out under the government-to-government pact with Russia, according to the report.
The newly-procured jets will be upgraded to the latest standard that would include air-to-ground capabilities, extended range and a new avionics and weapons package.
“A very reasonable price has been shared and we are considering and evaluating the offer. A bilateral meeting was held last month,” Economic Times reported quoting unnamed sources as saying.
In April 2018, the Russian government had submitted a proposal to sell 21 used MiG-29 combat planes which will cost India between $ 25-30 million (Rs 170 crore-Rs 200 crore) per aircraft which is almost 30 per cent cost of any new aircraft in the class of the MiG-29 planes.
The Air Force currently operates three squadrons of the Russian fighter jets that are being upgraded in-house at its Base Repair Depot. While the multi-role jets have been operating since the 1980s, the air force had signed a Rs 3,850 crore ($543 million) deal in 2008 to upgrade the entire fleet and give it a life extension.
According to the defence ministry, the upgraded aircraft are now being used for routine operations in frontline squadrons and are equipped with the latest avionics, an array of smart air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons and in-flight refuelling.
The Indian Navy also operates the naval version of the MiG 29, with the jets being the primary weapon of the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier. The navy has a total of 45 of the MiG 29K/KUB fighters in service, the last of which were ordered in 2010, the ET report stated further.