India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved the purchase of 12 Su-30MKI fighter jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF), marking a significant resumption of weapon system procurement from Russia. This decision comes as the challenges related to processing payments to Russia due to US sanctions have eased.
The deal, valued at approximately INR 11,000 crore ($1.33 billion), is the largest for Russian-origin equipment for India’s armed forces since the start of recent geopolitical events. The 12 fighters will be procured from the Indian state enterprise Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which licenses the Su-30MKI for manufacturing in India.
Under the Indo-Russian contract, various raw materials and components for the Su-30MKI, such as titanium blocks, forgings, and fasteners, must come from Russia. These components will be delivered to HAL in kit form. HAL has previously absorbed Su-30MKI technology sent by Russia, ensuring domestic production capabilities.
The Su-30MKI fighters will include avionic and communication systems of Indian origin and will be integrated with domestically produced weapon systems. Additionally, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the modernization of the Su-30MKI by HAL, although the full scope of modernization has yet to be defined.
The IAF has considered a substantial performance upgrade for the Su-30MKI to bring it in line with the capabilities of the Su-35S. Russia has successfully upgraded its Su-30SM fighters, similar to the Su-30MKI, with advanced avionics, resulting in performance comparable to the Su-35S.
The resumption of Su-30MKI procurement marks an important development in India’s military acquisitions, reflecting the country’s ongoing efforts to enhance its air force capabilities.