In the middle of the standoff that India has with China, the Indian Air Force has pushed a proposal to the government for acquiring 33 new fighter aircraft, including 21 MiG-29s and 12 Su-30MKIs from Russia.
“The Air Force has been working on this plan for some time but they have now fast-tracked the process and the proposals expected to be worth over Rs 6,000 crore would be placed before the Defence Ministry for its final approval next week at a high-level meeting,” government sources said.
There is an effort to try, upgrade and induct more military hardware. These deals were in pipeline for a very long time.
The Economic Times, India’s leading business newspaper, has reported that country’s Air Force is seeking to urgently procure 21 additional upgraded MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia and 12 new Su-30MKIs built under license by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to add to its three squadrons of the type already in service.
“These fighters [MiG-29], which include two trainers, are expected to be procured at a reasonable price as they have already been partially manufactured in Russia for a previous order that got cancelled,” the newspaper said. “These fighters, if ordered, would come handy to replace the ageing MiG 21 squadrons that are to retire within the next five years.”
The Indian government is ready to consider this proposal of the air forces. The procurement can begin two years after the agreement with Russia is signed, sources clarified.
The decision to acquire the additional fighter jets has been taken to strengthen the air force’s reserves. The process for the acquisition of the fighters has been expedited as India and China are engaged in an intense stand-off in the Himalayas following conflict at the Pangong Tso lake.
India and China have accused each other of instigating the clash in the Galwan Valley, part of the disputed Ladakh region along the Himalayan frontier.
China claims about 90,000 square kilometres of territory in India’s northeast, while India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometres of its territory in the Aksai Chin Plateau in the Himalayas.