Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa on his goodwill visit to Russia from July 9 to July 12 had visited the MiG-35 complex at the Kubinka facility near Moscow, where the modernized variant of the MiG-29 fighter, which has been in service with the Indian Air Force for over three decades on offer to the Indian Air Force in a contract for 114 fighters was pushed for possible deal with India.

While the key focus remained on MiG-35, which was previously rejected by IAF in previous MMRCA tender in 2011. A small team of Russian Defence officials also made the pitch for the other Russian fighter jet in the race and briefed Air Chief about potential savings if IAF decides to select Sukhoi-35 fighter jets for local manufacturing and how it will also help lower costs for modernization of the 270+ Su-30MKI Upgrade already in the service with IAF.

Sources close to have confirmed that Russia has briefed India about its plans to upgrade its Su-30SM fleet in lines with the Su-35 aircraft to maintain commonality between the two jets and have offered the same upgrade road-map to India for its Su-30MKI fleet which is similar to Su-30SM fleet operated by Russian Air force.

Local Production of Sukhoi-35 after the closure of the Su-30MKI production line will mean HAL or any other selected manufacturing partner selected by India will be able to use same logistics and heavy machinery used to manufacture components of the Su-30MKI jets and since both jets will share common electronic cockpit layout, Avionics, and new AL-41F engines which will further reduce cost of operations and will reduce logistics issues which comes with induction of new type in the fleet.

Upgraded Su-30SM will be powered by same AL-41F engine used to power Sukhoi-35 jet and a modified AL-41F engine will be developed and tested onboard Su-30SM by end of this year by Irkut. AL-41F engine already has been offered to India which due to additional thrusts will further improve the performance of the jet.

While India is keen to upgrade its Su-30MKI jets which are already in their 18th year of service with IAF. India also has been offered 5th generation Su-57E by Russia and IAF is not so keen on letting Russian aircraft dominate a large chunk of Indian fighter fleet and Dassault Rafale jet offered by France continues to remain favorites to win the race for 114 units by IAF.

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