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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to receive a significant boost to its combat capabilities with the planned acquisition of 12 new Su-30 MKI fighter jets. This move comes in response to the need to replace aircraft lost in previous incidents.

In September 2023, the IAF issued a tender to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), India’s state-owned aerospace and defence company. This deal signifies a potential continuation of the collaboration between India and Russia for the Su-30 MKI program.

Under the terms being discussed, Russia’s Sukhoi aircraft corporation is expected to provide HAL with the necessary raw materials and subsystems required to build the 12 new Su-30 MKI jets at HAL’s Nashik facility. Russia’s defence export agency, Rosoboronexport, is currently finalizing the official offer and pricing details.

The acquisition of these new Su-30 MKI jets is particularly crucial given the IAF’s current situation. The IAF is currently operating with only 31 fighter squadrons, falling short of the recommended strength. This shortage is further compounded by the impending retirement of three squadrons of ageing MiG-21 Bison jets.

The revival of Su-30 MKI production at HAL’s Nashik facility is noteworthy as the plant is currently undergoing a transition to manufacture the indigenous LCA-Tejas Mk1A fighter jets. The finalization of the Su-30 MKI deal is expected to lead to the restart of the Nashik plant for Su-30 MKI production by the end of 2025.

The addition of these 12 Su-30 MKI jets will provide a much-needed boost to the IAF’s combat capabilities. This move, coupled with the ongoing production of LCA-Tejas Mk1A jets, signifies India’s commitment to modernizing its air force and ensuring its strategic edge in the region.

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