India has been offered 40 more Sukhoi 30 MKI combat aircraft by Russians but Indian Air Force is not keen to buy them. IAF doesn’t want to add more of these heavy weight and expensive fighter jets in its inventory.
IAF has more than 220 of these Russian planes in its inventory already and by the end of 2020, it has plans of inducting all the 272 planes.
Sources of government told Mail Today, “The Russians along with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which assembles the planes in India, have offered to sell 40 more of these planes to the Air Force but the Air Force does not seem to be very keen on acquiring them due to the heavy cost of maintanence which makes them very expensive to manage in the long run.”
The number of heavy weight fighter jets that IAF needs, has already acquired by IAF. In the category of heavy weight fighter jets, 50 per cent of its fleet comprises the Sukhoi-30s. The government sources said, “The Indian Air Force does not seem to be very keen on acquiring 40 more Sukhoi-30 combat aircraft due to the heavy cost of maintenance which makes them very expensive to manage in the long run.”
Sukhoi-30 costs about one-third of French Rafale 36, as per claims made by the vendor, of which will be added to force in 2019. The sources said that the maintenance of Russian aircraft costs three times more than existing western origin plane.
Due to delay in induction of indigenous LCA in the last two decades and the failure of the acquisition of medium-weight multilayer fighter aircraft, order of Russian Sukhois has been placed in various blocks by previous governments.
Currently, Indian Air Force as shortage of almost 12 squadrons from its sanctioned strength of 42. In the situation of two-front war, IAF needs more fighter jets. Recently, after exercise Gaganshakti, the force carried out extensive flying with the Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter jets and found that the cost of operating the Russian planes was higher than the other western origin planes.
So, for Indian Air Force, maintaining the Russian Sukhois have been a cause for concern. Sukhois serviceability has hovered around 50 per cent mark in many years. Russian MiG-35, American F-18 and F-16, and Swedish SAAB Gripen are considered to be serious contenders in a new Air Force project, for which requests by the Ministry of Defense may be issued before the end of this year.