Seeking to make up for the losses in different crashes, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is planning to place an order for eight new Su-30MKI combat aircraft from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), likely to be worth over Rs 3,000 crore.
“The plan is to acquire eight new Su-30MKI combat planes,” top Indian Air Force sources told ANI.
“We have lost a few aircraft in accidents over a period of time and to make up for the losses, we are looking to place orders for eight new Su-30MKI combat aircraft,” the sources said.
The IAF sources said media reports suggesting that the force was looking to acquire 40 new Su-30MKI planes was news to them.
As per reports, the HAL has made an offer of selling 40 Su-30MKI planes to the force with latest upgrades and the offer is seen as an emergency measure for the Air Force to meet its requirement for combat planes in view of the dwindling fighter squadrons.
The IAF has already inducted around 12 squadrons of the formidable heavyweight air superiority aircraft which were first inducted in the year 2000.
Sources said that the Air Force will have a total of 13.5 squadrons of the planes in service by the end of 2021-22, with few of them being in reserve.
A total of 272 Su-30MKI planes have been ordered from Russia in different batches by the Air Force to tackle the fall in the number of squadrons of the fighter planes.
The Su-30MKI was inducted by the Air Force to fill the gap created by the retiring MiG-21s, MiG27s, MiG-23s and the other older generation planes such as the MiG-29s and the Jaguars and is not in the four-plus generation planes like the Rafale fighter jets.
The Air Force has been sanctioned 42 squadrons of fighter planes by the government but due to the phase-out and number-plating of squadrons of older planes, it is now left with only 31 squadrons.
The Air Force is now looking at the induction of two squadrons of Rafale planes along with a plan for acquiring 114 multirole fighter planes to meet the shortfall.
The mainstay of the IAF is Su-30MKIs, MiG-21 Bisons, Mirage-2000, Jaguars and MiG-29s.