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.
According to American columnist of Forbes, David Ax:
“It is not surprising that India this week allegedly placed an order with Russia for $780 million for 33 fighters with Russia, which is enough to equip or re-equip two squadrons,” the publication says.
It is known that New Delhi plans to acquire 21 MiG-29 fighters and several Su-30.
The Indian Air Force has long planned to purchase additional aircraft to strengthen the existing arsenal of service, consisting of about 230 Su-30s and 60 MiG-29s. New Delhi also plans to acquire 83 local Tejas light fighters, as well as 144 foreign medium-sized fighters, in the coming years.
David Ax notes that all new fighters are part of the effort to increase the air force from 28 front-line squadrons to 40, the number of which New Delhi considers sufficient to fight simultaneously with Pakistan and China.
“These 28 squadrons fly on a stunning variety of fighters, including Indian and Russian types, the French Mirage 2000s and Rafales, and European Jaguars,” recalls an observer for the American publication.
Tom Cooper, an author and aviation expert, expressed his surprise that the Indian Air Force wants the Su-30 and MiG-29 to meet the extraordinary requirements for a pair of aircraft squadrons. Su-30, although it seems impressive on paper, in comparison with Western models does not have performance and combat efficiency.
David Ax explains that Cooper’s point of view is this: for decades, the Mirage 2000 was a more effective fighter in the Indian service than the Su-30. Rafale, the successor to the French-made Mirage, is also one of India’s finest fighters. However, the Indians ordered a total of 36 Rafale.
“The Su-30 not only does not have the latest high-precision air-to-ground ammunition, but also does not work well with high-altitude air bases supporting Indian operations along the so-called border,” the Forbes publication says.
The lighter MiG-29 is better suited for the Indian Air Force than the Su-30. However, this does not mean that the old MiG is the right choice for New Delhi.
“So why, faced with the advancing Chinese army, the Indian Air Force wants to get Russian fighters?” – the observer of the American edition wonders.
The Indian company HAL is building a Su-30C under license in India, that is, New Delhi, buying “drying”, sends money to Indian companies.