Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet of Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets will undergo an upgrade to have more lethal weapons, a new type of AESA radar and avionics. India and Russia are in talks for the project.
The IAF operates around 240 of these planes and another 32 are in line for delivery. The planes are licence-produced in India. “Hope the upgrade starts soon,” said Vice-Chief of the IAF Air Marshall SB Deo while speaking at an event organised by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to mark 70 years of India-Russia diplomatic relations.
HAL’s Chairman and Managing Director Dr T Suvarna Raju said the upgrade would be done to make the plane more lethal.
The first of the planes built to the current specifications were delivered to India in 2004. Since then, technology has changed as regards missiles, air-launched missiles and bombs.
The upgrade shall include long-range standoff missiles up to the range of 300 km and more powerful electronic jamming systems.
Speaking about the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), Dr Raju said the multi-billion dollar co-development project with Russia would be an opportunity as no country had ever offered such critical technology to India.
“We are still hopeful. It is an opportunity for the industry as well as for the country. This is an opportunity for us to go in for this kind of (high) technology which has not been offered to us by any other country (except Russia),” he said.
Asked about IAF’s reservations about the project, Raju did not give a direct reply and insisted it would help India’s aerospace sector to a great extent. “The impact of the project will be very positive. FGFA is my dream, I am hopeful about it,” Raju told reporters on the sidelines of the event.
In 2007, India and Russia had inked an inter-governmental pact for the FGFA project. In December 2010, India agreed to pay $295 million (Rs 1,897 crore) towards the preliminary design of the fighter, which is called in India as the “Perspective Multi-role Fighter”.
– The upgrade shall include long-range standoff missiles up to the range of 300 km and more powerful electronic jamming systems
– The multi-billion dollar co-development project will be an opportunity as no country has ever offered such critical technology to India