While an Indo-Russian programme to develop a fifth generation fighter
aircraft is already under way, Russia has agreed to provide India
with an advanced version of the Sukhoi-30MKI, which boasts of fifth
generation capabilities and stealth features.
The Indian Air Force, which currently has over 100 Sukhoi MKIs, has
placed an order with Russia for about 280-300 aircraft, which are likely
to come in the form of the Super Sukhois.
This development is expected to provide India a considerable edge
over Pakistan. In January 2011, China had agreed to deliver its J-20
fifth generation fighter – touted to be the world’s most advanced
fighter aircraft — to Pakistan.
The timeframe of the delivery of the Super Sukhois has not been specified, but India plans to deploy four squadrons of the advanced aircraft in the northeastern sector by 2015.
The Super Sukhoi has come about after India decided to get rid of some
of its outdated combat jets and replace them with superior ones. As part
of that, India decided to return 18 Sukhoi-30K aircraft to Russia and
replace them with the advanced Sukhoi-30MKI, which is being christened
as “Super Sukhoi” that boasts of fifth generation features.
The 18 Sukhoi-30Ks were part of the first production batch.
According to a US-based Defense Update report, Russia, the manufacturer
of the aircraft, has agreed to replace the aircraft by production
versions of the advanced Su-30MKI (the Super Sukhoi), in a ‘buyback’
transaction as the Su-30K were found to have downgraded avionics as
compared with the advanced Su-30MKI aircraft.
Further, the aircraft, of which 10 have already been sent back (the
remaining eight by November), would be inducted into the Belarusian Air
The Super Sukhoi, apart from having a new cockpit, has upgraded radars
and will also be equipped with the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.
Commenting on the decision to return the older aircraft, Air Commodore
(Retd) Jasjit Singh, director, New Delhi-based Centre for Air Power
Studies (CAPS), told DNA that India had been asking for the Sukhoi-30K
to be replaced for sometime now and that the decision to go in for the
upgraded version of the aircraft is a step in the right direction.
“The Sukhoi-30K were manufactured and delivered to India in the
mid-1990s and it is an aging aircraft. The IAF may have found it to be
cost-effective to send back the aircraft instead of upgrading it on par
with the latest model. Besides the upgrades would have taken three-four
years, which is not logical with a fleet of aircraft which has already
completed half its lifespan,” said Singh.