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The Indian Air Force (IAF) has faced significant challenges in maintaining its fleet of 260 Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and subsequent Western sanctions on Russia. These sanctions have disrupted the traditional supply chain for crucial spares and systems, forcing the IAF to adapt and innovate.

Fortunately, IAF officials have revealed to that the long-term spare storage policy implemented in the past has helped them navigate this turbulent period. This foresightful approach ensured a reserve of essential parts, allowing the IAF to maintain operational readiness despite the supply chain disruptions.

However, the IAF remains reliant on state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for a significant portion of vital spares. Additionally, some components still require direct procurement from Russia. To mitigate the risks associated with prolonged supply chain disruptions, the IAF and HAL are actively seeking assistance from private Indian companies to indigenize many of the previously imported parts. This initiative aims to reduce dependence on Russia and ensure long-term sustainability for the Su-30MKI fleet.

While the IAF remains hopeful that the war in Ukraine will not extend much further, contingency plans are being devised to maintain the fleet even in the absence of resumed Russian supplies. This may involve grounding some units temporarily to conserve resources and prioritize spares for operational aircraft. Additionally, these grounded units will be used for training and preparation for the upcoming Su-30 upgrade program.

India’s planned Su-30 upgrade program presents a significant opportunity to reduce reliance on Russia. The program aims to replace 51 major components and systems currently sourced from Russia with indigenous alternatives or systems procured from other international suppliers. This strategic move will not only enhance the Su-30MKI’s capabilities but also bolster India’s self-reliance in the defence sector.

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