NEW DELHI – India has officially requested Russia to modernize its Su-30MKI Flanker-H fighter fleet.
The request was made public by one of the leaders of the Air Force of India, Birender Singh Danoa, in an interview published on Thursday.
The interview was published by the Russian Armed Forces newspaper, Krasnaya Zevezda. In the publication, Dhanoa says the Indians are happy with the modernization program of the Russian Mig-21, Mig-27 and Mig-29 jets used by the Indian Air Force.
These aircraft received modern weapons and aviation systems that were successfully tested, Dhanoa said.
Meanwhile, Su-30 jets have been used in India for 20 years, so they now need to modernize the fleet, he added.
Russia’s deputy premier said in February that it could extend the life of 200 Su-30MKI aircraft in India.
The Su-30MKI were designed by the Russian company Sukhoi and built by Indian Hindustan Aeronautics.
Russia is offering a range of state-of-the-art weapons to be produced locally by India, including an advanced submarine and a fifth-generation combat jet. The Indian military is also about to receive other weapons.
Moscow is competing in a tender to deliver six diesel-electric submarines to the Indian Navy, said Vladimir Drozhzhov, head of a government agency in charge of the arms trade. Russia’s offer includes the Lada class attack submarine (also known as Amur-1650), an advanced underwater craft designed to engage ships, defend naval ports and conduct reconnaissance.
If selected, the submarine – which is considered one of the quietest in its class – will not be mounted under Russian license and Russian parts, the official said. The proposal suggests that the submersible will be designed jointly by Indian and Russian engineers, but built by the Indians themselves.
This is how India could develop its own know-how and acquire sensitive technology that other countries are reluctant to share, Drozhzhov noted. In addition, the Indian-Russian submarine could easily be equipped with another joint venture – a supersonic offshore missile called BrahMos.
Submarines are not the only hardware that Russia has in stock. India may become the first foreign operator of the Su-57 Sukhoi fighter, which is now undergoing final tests at Russian air bases, the official said.
The cutting-edge aircraft has already served as a backbone of the Russian-Indian fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) project until New Delhi opted for the resignation, claiming design flaws.
For now, Russia is about to send 18 Su-30MKI multifunction fighters to the Indian Air Force (IAF), which is upgrading its fleet of fighters. In addition, the Russian-made MiG-35 jet is about to enter a list of another tender to provide 110 light fighters to the IAF.
The news comes in the back of other impressive arms deals that Moscow sealed with New Delhi . This year, the two states have built a weapons factory that will launch a huge number of Kalashnikov 200 series assault rifles.
India also approved a $1.93 billion deal to upgrade the older version of the T-90 main battle tank to the T-90MS variant. The upgrade package features improved protection, increased mobility, and improved electronic systems.
Last but not least, India wants Russia to provide several batches of the newest S-400 air defense systems . Despite US pressure, India has been on track to do so, with Russia saying deliveries will begin in 2020 if the first payments are made by the end of the year.