SOURCE: Satyajeet Kumar/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) offering to manufacture 40 additional Su-30s with the capability to carry BrahMos missiles (ALCM) given the shortfall of IAF fighter squadrons. Sukhoi-30MKI fighter production run is nearing its end and last locally manufactured Su-30 is likely to be delivered by end of 2020.
Out of 32 Squadrons which IAF has, soon 15 Squadrons will be entirely made up of Sukhoi-30MKI fighters with last of the 10 Squadrons of legacy fighters like Mig-21 and Mig-27 to be retired by 2022, IAF is all set to go into a free fall of combat squadron strength for the next 5-7 years before it can revamp itself with the induction of new fighter jets post 2025-27 period .
So the addition of 40 more Sukhoi-30MKI fighters seems to make perfect sense on the paper to boost combat squadron strength but that’s exactly what will not happen. for starters addition of 40 more Su-30s will skew the balance between medium and light jets which IAF for years has been trying to maintain.
Second is that even with the aggressive push towards indigenization of the Sukhoi-30MKI fighters the operational availability of the aircraft is yet to cross 70% and usage of more Heavy Twin engine fighter like Su-30s means additional expense which needs to incurred which are 30-40% more than a single-engined light combat jet which seems manageable at first glance but can seriously disturb budget allocations .
Third important point is that IAF in the past already has said no to the proposals for the procurement of additional Su-30s due to poor maintainability and is not likely is in the mood to allocate more resources to procure more Su-30s nor wants to put additional stress on its manpower and resources who are doing their best to maintain 15 Squadrons of Sukhoi-30MKI fighter fleet stationed all over India.