The Indian Air Force is cancelling 12 Russian-designed Sukhoi-30 MKI orders, NDTV reports. Its bid for the fighters was cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and including the three chiefs a few weeks ago.
Indian Air Force recently cancelled orders of Ka-31 helicopters, MiG-29 fighter jets, Mi-8 helicopters and rifle manufacturing contracts.
The purchase of the additional Sukhoi-30 MKIs had come up as the Indian Air Force is short of fighters, its squadron strength down to the early 30s, instead of the allotted 40. A dozen fighters will give two-thirds of a much-needed squadron, Military Leaks comments. The IAF had just two squadrons of the French-made Dassault Rafale, but it still flies older aircraft, including the upgraded MiG-21 Bison.
The Sukhoi Su-30MKI (NATO reporting name: Flanker-H) is a twinjet multirole air superiority fighter built under license by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF). A variant of the Sukhoi Su-30, it is a heavy, all-weather, long-range fighter.
Development of the variant started after India signed a deal with Russia in 2000 to manufacture 140 Su-30 fighter jets. The first Russian-made Su-30MKI variant was accepted into the Indian Air Force in 2002, while the first Su-30MKI assembled in India entered service with the IAF in 2004. The IAF has nearly 260 Su-30MKIs in inventory as of January 2020. The Su-30MKI is expected to form the backbone of the Indian Air Force’s fighter fleet to 2020 and beyond.
The aircraft is tailor-made for Indian specifications and integrates Indian systems and avionics as well as French and Israeli sub-systems. It has abilities similar to the Sukhoi Su-35 with which it shares many features and components.
Russian media reported that manufacturers Uralvagonzavod, UEC, Sukhoi and Mikoyan had to shut down operations last March due to a low supply of parts and foreign components, which means that they have few spare parts to maintain existing military hardware.
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