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South Asia , Aircraft and Anti-Aircraft

Indian's Air Force's Most Potent Fighters Set to Receive a Major Upgrade

October 24th - 2017

The Indian Air Force is set to give its most potent fighter, the Su-30MKI, a complete overhaul costing $6 billion. The Air Force fields approximately 300 of these elite air superiority platforms, among the best in the world, and the fleet forms the backbone of the country's aerial warfare capabilities. The fighters are to be equipped with new cockpits, sensors and radars as well as a weapons and avionics overhaul. The fighters will also reportedly be equipped with radar evading capabilities.

Upgrades will allow the fighters to incorporate more advanced weapons systems such as supersonic Brahmos cruise missiles, superior infrared homing systems, and long range R-77 missiles. Another critical upgrade will be the engines, which will be replaced with the Russian made AL-41F-1S engine that can produce 18% more thrust than their predecessors. Between them these upgrades will make the Su-30MKI a far more lethal platform - able to fare better against near peer competitors such as the J-11 or Su-35. According to T Suvarna Raju, chairman and managing director of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), reported in regards to the upgrade program: "We will start the Su-30 MKI upgrade program as soon as possible to bring in new weapons and avionics to make the fleet more potent." HAL will carry out the program in collaboration with Russian agencies.

According to the Air Force's Vice Chief Air Marshal S. B. Deo, Russia has been highly cooperative in helping India upgrade its capabilities. He noted: "When it comes to technology transfer, the Russians offer everything without any strings attached. The IAF would look forward to continuing its engagement with the Russian aviation industry for the enhancement of Su-30 upgrades so that it could be more potent." At the time of purchase, the fighters represented the pinnacle of Russian Air Force technology and were very likely the most potent air superiority platforms in the world - though the Su-30MK2, Su-35, Chinese J-20 and American F-22 have since surpassed their capabilities.

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