Saturday, June 26, 2010
Sukhoi deal cleared
The Cabinet Committee on Security earlier this month quietly cleared one of the biggest defence orders of recent times.
The almost Rs 15,000 crore order for an additional 42 Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters would add up the total number of these modern Russian fighters for Indian Air Force to 272.
When the entire Sukhoi-30 MKIs, including the 42, are delivered to IAF by around 2018, it would become the single largest type of fighters in service, marking a huge technological transition from the dominance of MIG-21 fighters today.
A senior official said the CCS cleared the new order in the first week of June.
By the time HAL begins manufacture of the 42 aircraft sometime in 2014, each of them would cost in the range of Rs 350 crore, according to present day projections.
The new order for Sukhoi-30 MKIs comes even as attention is fully on the tender floated by the Air Force for $10 billion worth 126 MMRCA (medium multi role combat aircraft). But by the time the MMRCA enters the service, it would be the Sukhoi-30 MKI that would actually be the dominant fighter of the Air Force. And the combined contract value of SU-30 MKIs would be more than double that of the MMRCA.
The Su-30 MKI was originally contracted in 1996, when the Russian military-industrial complex was in a shambles after the Soviet Union collapsed. Its design and capabilities, however, continues to impress globally.
The initial contract was for 50 fighters, at $1.46 billion. Over the years, the numbers kept increasing. In 2000, the government contracted the licenced production of 140 of these highly advanced fighters by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Then another 40 were added to the contract.
The present order for 42 fighters was originally supposed to be 40, but two more were added to the order book to make up for the two crashed fighters. A senior official said that HAL is expected to complete all the SU-30 MKI orders by 2016-17 period.
HAL has been steadily stepping up its Sukhoi-30 MKI delivery schedules. While last year it delivered 23 of these fighters, this year it is expected to produce 28. HAL has already supplied 74 of these fighters.