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India’s ambitious “Super Sukhoi” Program has gained official backing from the Indian Air Force (IAF), marking a significant milestone in the upgrade package for the entire Sukhoi-30MKI fleet. The program, which commences with 86 units and will eventually cover the entire fleet, focuses on enhancing the performance and longevity of these formidable aircraft.

One crucial aspect of this program involves discussions between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) to incorporate performance and longevity improvements into the AL-31F engines, which are a vital component of the Sukhoi-30MKI aircraft.

India’s defence giants, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), HAL, and Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (Midhani), are actively engaged in certifying the engines with components designed to significantly extend their operational lifespan. These indigenous components will replace certain Russian-designed ones, not only enhancing the engine’s durability but also improving its overall performance.

India holds complete Transfer of Technology (ToT) for the AL-31F engines, which power the Su-30MKI fleet. Given that these aircraft are expected to remain in active service until at least 2045 and beyond, India has embarked on initiatives to address long-standing technical issues and deficiencies in the engines.

One notable decision by India is not only to seek certification of these engines from Russia but also to leverage the locally developed components, which have undergone rigorous trials on the test bed. These components have demonstrated their ability to reduce the need for frequent replacements, enhancing the engine’s reliability and efficiency.

India’s pursuit of self-reliance in defence manufacturing has been underscored by its long-standing practice of producing AL-31F engines from raw materials. Over the past two decades, India has identified numerous components that can be locally developed and improved with Indian substitutes, reducing its dependence on Russian support for engine upkeep.

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