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The Indian Air Force (IAF), in partnership with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), is embarking on a significant upgrade of its Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets.

This ambitious program signifies a major stride towards achieving self-reliance in defence technology, aiming to equip the aircraft with advanced Indian-made systems to bolster its overall capabilities.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has Planned to allocate a separate budget for the upgrade program, ensuring its smooth execution and independence from current defence budget limitations.

The upgrade will prioritize critical areas such as the Electronic Warfare (EW) suite, Radar, and Infrared Search and Track System (IRST), significantly enhancing the aircraft’s situational awareness and combat effectiveness.

HAL is leading a complete redesign of the cockpit layout, integrating Touch-based Large Area Displays (LADs) and an Electronic Pilot feature with AI support. This will provide pilots with an intuitive and information-rich environment, facilitating quicker decision-making during combat.

The upgrade will be rolled out in phases, starting with 84 jets. Two Sukhoi-30MKIs equipped with Advanced Situational Awareness Tactical Enhancement (ASTE) will act as flying test beds for the program, ensuring thorough testing and validation before broader deployment.

The program marks a significant shift towards self-reliance in the defence sector. DRDO will collaborate with Indian suppliers to minimize dependence on the original Russian manufacturer and increase the percentage of Indian-made equipment and systems on the upgraded aircraft.

The upgraded Sukhoi-30MKIs will feature enhanced situational awareness, improved response times, and heightened combat effectiveness, bolstering India’s air defence capabilities. The initiative will drive the development and integration of indigenous technologies, advancing India’s journey towards self-sufficiency in defence.

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