IAF’s Sukhoi Su-30MKI Jets To Be Upgraded To Super Sukhois Level

India’s air superiority Sukhoi-30MKI fighters will soon be converted
into ‘Super Sukhois’ by upgrading them with fifth generation combat jet
features, the Russian original equipment manufacturer Irkut Corporation has announced.

The upgrade will include a new cockpit, an upgraded radar and
advanced stealth characteristics to make the plane less visible to enemy
radar than the existing Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi-30 fleet,
Irkut’s president and chairman Alexy Fedorov said at the Moscow Air Show
here.
The IAF currently has five operational Sukhoi 30MKI squadrons numbering around 100
aircraft. It will ultimately have over 230 Sukhoi-30MKIs or 13 squadrons in its fleet.

The fleet is under licenced production at the Bangalore-based Hindustan
Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the entire fleet will be upgraded to the
‘Super Sukhoi’ configuration.

‘The upgrade will apply not only to the aircraft in service with the
Indian Air Force (IAF) but also to those yet to be delivered to India
and to be licence-manufactured by HAL,’ Fedorov said.

Most significantly, the aircraft will be able to carry a heavier weapon
load, including the airborne version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise
missile, he added.

Fedorov said the ‘Super Sukhoi’ will be a potent aircraft similar in
features to a fifth generation aircraft. However, he refused to provide
specific details of the upgrade, stating that the exact nature of this
was still to be decided between the Indian and Russian sides.

Discussions are currently on regarding various aspects of the proposed upgrade, he said.

The Irkut chief did not provide any indication of the cost of the upgrade project.
However, going by the general cost trends of similar upgrades, the price could run close to $1 billion.

Meanwhile, HAL is upbeat over its participation in the cutting-edge technology fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) project.
The Sukhoi T-50 aircraft — also called the PAK-FA — unveiled at the
Moscow International Air Show (MAKS) 2011 Wednesday will make India the
only country outside of the US and Russia to have a fifth generation
fighter.

HAL chairman Ashok Naik, who is here for the MAKS, told Defenseworld.net
that HAL’s participation in the project is ‘well on track’ with a
preliminary design contract signed between India and Russia for $295
million.

The preliminary designing could take about 18 months to conclude.
Detailed design work would then follow during which the full scope of
the project would be defined. The basic requirement for the Indian
fighter would be a twin-seater configuration, he added.

‘HAL is keen to complete the design phase and move forward on the
project,’ Naik said, adding that the specific details of the Indian
components that will go into the FGFA will be decided during the
detailed design phase.

HAL will be working with its Russian partner United Aircraft Corporation
(UAC) in co-developing an export version of which the IAF will be the
first customer.

India has expressed a requirement of 250 to 300 PAK-FAs, which are
scheduled for an Indian induction beginning 2016-17 and the procurement
cost of the fleet is likely to exceed $35 billion. Russia too requires
equal numbers of the jet.
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