The Indian Air Force (IAF) is likely to pick the option of buying additional Su-30MKI fighters over conducting engine upgrade works of the Jaguar attack aircraft.
Rolls Royce Adour 811 engines of the 1980s vintage twin-engine aircraft have seen 15-30 percent reduction in thrust. “Since the thrust factor is coming down, the aircraft is already flying with lower load during peacetime operations as a precautionary measure,” top sources in the defence establishment were quoted as saying by The Print.
“The Jaguars would be grounded when their engine thrust comes below a specific point, as it would put the pilots’ lives at risk,” the sources added.
The IAF then favoured Honeywell’s F-125IN engines, but there was another hiccup. “The price quoted by Honeywell and the HAL for ‘re-engining’ is just too high. For the price of two such upgrades, we can get one basic Rafale jet,” the source said.
The air force currently boasts six squadrons of the Jaguar, of which one isn’t a complete squadron.
The jets are presently getting a better cockpit system, and are undergoing avionics upgrade from Darin-I to Darin-III standard. The modernisation programme is lagging seven years behind schedule.
To overcome these difficulties, the IAF reportedly planned to increase its air superiority by acquiring additional Sukhoi jets.
“One plan is to order more Su-30 MKIs to replace those fighters that would be grounded. As far as role is concerned, one Sukhoi can play the same role as two Jaguars,” the source explained.
On a separate note, New Delhi ordered 18 Su-30MKIs and missiles to be equipped on the fighters, this year.