SOURCE: ABHAY KESARKAR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed that they have started working on an upgrade package for their version of Twin-seater Sukhoi-Su-30SM which basically has been derived from Indian variant of Sukhoi-Su-30MKI to bring it at par with Sukhoi-Su-35, another Air Superiority fighter aircraft which Russian Air-force has in its fleet.
According to Russian media, idea is to make Su-30SM as close to technically similar to Su-35 so that technologies shared between this two jets will help in better management of maintaining spares and servicing of this jets.
Russian military planners want to replace Saturn AL-31FP engine currently powering Su-30SM with a more powerful AL-41F engine which is used on the Su-35 which will help Su-30SM perform better in flight due to extra thrust and will also be able to install more powerful Radars and Avionics so that it comes closer to Su-35.
Su-30SM will also get much of the avionics from the Su-57 program and a new line of weapons which until know were limited for use on only Su-57 and Su-35. Russia is offering same upgrade package to all Su-30MKI derivative operators which include India and Malaysia. Su-30SM will make it relatively cheaper to upgrade then what India was planning for upgrading its Su-30MKI but also will make it more Russian than it was ever before.
Super MKI Plans
IAF wanted to use new high powered AESA Radar from Su-57 program for its Su-30MKI but IAF to save cost and to save high investment made in Transfer of Technology (TOT) for the Saturn AL-31FP engine in India by HAL was not willing to move on to upgraded and powerful AL-41F engines.
According to reports, India is pushing for the development of a new AL-31FP engine with a higher thrust so that Transfer of Technology (TOT) license agreement between India and Russia remains valid while Russians have been pushing India to simply procure AL-41F engines which will require separate TOT licensing agreements which will cost India more money even though AL-41F engines were basically developed from AL-31FP engines.
India also wants to upgrade Su-30MKI with more advance French and Israeli systems replacing current systems supplied by this country and not rely on Russian systems which have been offered on Su-30SM upgrade package. India is also keen to include more Non-Russians weapons systems including a combination of Indian and western platforms like Astra BVRAAM, SAAW, NGRAM and Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) and Brimstone air-launched ground attack missile.