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Russia has announced a change in engine plans for its Su-30SM fighter jets, opting for the AL-41-FC1 engine from 2025 onwards, according to Oleg Pankov, chief designer of the Su-30 program. This decision comes as India, the primary operator of the Su-30MKI variant, has chosen to maintain its existing AL-31F engines.

The AL-41-FC1 engine boasts increased power and improved fuel efficiency compared to the AL-31F. Russia’s decision to switch engines suggests a focus on enhancing the performance of its Su-30SM fleet and also due to factor that same engine is also used on the Su-35 fleet.

India, however, has opted to continue using the AL-31F engine in its Su-30MKI fleet. This decision likely stems from a well-established supply chain for the AL-31F within India. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), in collaboration with the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), is already working on incorporating Indian-made components into the AL-31F engines.

India’s decision to indigenize the AL-31F reflects a strategic goal of reducing dependence on Russia for critical components. As the Indian Air Force (IAF) plans to operate Su-30MKI squadrons until the 2060s, ensuring a self-sufficient supply chain for the engine becomes crucial.

The contrasting engine choices by Russia and India highlight a potential shift in the dynamics of their collaboration on the Su-30 platform. While Russia seeks to modernize its Su-30SM fleet with a new engine, India prioritizes self-reliance by indigenizing the existing engine. This difference in approach could necessitate adjustments in future co-development or upgrade programs for the Su-30.