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Facing ongoing supply chain issues with Russia, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is taking a strategic leap by seeking private sector expertise to repair, overhaul, and maintain its fleet of Russian-origin aircraft and helicopters. This ambitious plan aims to ensure the continued high availability of these crucial assets, including the Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets, MiG-29 fighters, An-32 transport aircraft, and Mi-17 helicopters.

Under the new model, private companies will collaborate with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to either locally manufacture essential spares or directly source them. This not only promises to streamline procurement but also fosters an indigenous defence ecosystem. The IAF envisions the private partners deploying their skilled workforce, further bolstering technical expertise within the country.

This initiative marks a significant step towards self-reliance for the IAF, which has traditionally relied heavily on Russian imports for maintenance and spares. The involvement of the private sector is expected to expedite the repair and overhaul process, leading to improved operational readiness and reduced downtime for the ageing fleet.

While the IAF has previously experimented with private sector participation in specific spare parts indigenization, this latest move signifies a broader approach. The success of this program hinges on several factors, including identifying qualified private partners, establishing efficient collaboration mechanisms with OEMs, and ensuring stringent quality control measures.

If executed effectively, this strategic partnership between the IAF and the private sector has the potential to transform the maintenance landscape for Russian-origin aircraft in India. By leveraging private expertise and fostering domestic production capabilities, the IAF can not only ensure the continued operational effectiveness of its critical assets but also take a vital step towards achieving self-sufficiency in its defence needs.

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