Warplanes: Indian Su-30 Fleet Expands Still More


March 5, 2010: India is seeking another 42 Su-30MKI fighters from Russia. The negotiations have been going on for months, in an effort to get the right price. India buys bare bones fighters from Russia, and equips these Su-30MKIs with Israeli sensors and communications gear. India has about a hundred Su-30MKIs in service, and is building about one a month under license. India bought fifty in the late 1990s, and another 40 three years ago. This is in addition to the license to build 140 locally. India wants to have nearly 300 within five years, partly because of the increasing threat of invasion by China. The first 18 Su-30s India received from Russia have been retired after a decade of service. In many respects, the Indian made Su-30s, the Su-30MKI, is the most capable version available, due to its Israeli and European electronics, and the well trained Indian pilots.

The 38 ton SU-30MKI is most similar to the two seat American F-15E fighter-bomber. Even though equipped with Western electronics, the aircraft cost less than $40 million each, about half what an equivalent F-15 costs. The Su-30MKI can carry more than eight tons of bombs and hit targets over 1,500 kilometers away.



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