Executives from Irkut Corporation of Russia held talks with the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, NAK Browne and other IAF brass at Aero India 2013 here on upgrading the Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter plane to the next generation model, dubbed as ‘Super Sukhoi'.
The most significant aspect of the upgrade will be installation of an Active Electronically Scanned Array(AESA) radar, weapons, avionics, new cockpit and fire control systems. Integration of the Brahmos cruise missile too will form part of the upgrade program, though the integration and testing will be performed in India.
Irkut Senior Vice President Vitaly Borodich told a group of journalists at Aero India 2013 that while the Indian side was open to the idea of upgrading, deciding the different aspects of the upgrade program was the subject of current negotiations. “We met with IAF Chief NAK Browne and other IAF officials to discuss what components will go into the upgraded SU 30 MKI”, Borodich said.
Following the upgrade, the SU30MKI will have enhanced air-superiority capability together with ground-attack function making it a truly formidable multi-role fighter, Borodich said. Responding to a question about how different it would be from the Rafale multi-role aircraft which India has contracted from Dassault of France, Borodich said the latter is a light fighter while the former is a medium-heavy fighter.
Borodich said that the upgrade will also be offered to the additional 40 SU30MKI fighters which were contracted during the visit of the Russian President Vladimir Putin to New Delhi last December.
This is probably the first time when an upgrade is being offered relatively early in a fighter’s life. In comparison, India is also upgrading its MiG29 fighters after nearly two decades of use.
Experts argue that a medium upgrade should be done after about 5-7 years of use due to the advancement in electronics, sensors and weapons systems which form the mainstay of a modern fighter.