Sunday, August 15, 2010

Onus On HAL To Speed Up Su-30 MKI

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) will have to step up Su-30MKI production at its Nasik facility following the announcement for 42 more fighters being ordered from Russia.

“The ball is now in HAL’s court and it needs to speed-up the delivery of the current order so as to take the additional load,” a senior Indian Air Force (IAF) official told AVIATION WEEK. HAL has been told to complete the ongoing Su-30MKI blocks (under the compressed schedule) by 2015 at all costs. “There are concerns expressed by us time and again and we are watching the progress at the other end,” the official said.

When asked to explain what the IAF “concerns” were, the official declined to elaborate.

Sources in HAL said that the overall production rate of Su-30MKI during the current financial year is falling far behind expectations.

The IAF already have inducted more than 110 Sukhois (out of original 230 aircraft) and the additional 42 would take the total strength to 272 (Aerospace DAILY, Aug. 11). The IAF fleet has been steadily declining the last few years. It is operating with 32 fighter squadrons, short of the approved 39.5, and fleet strength could dip to 27 by 2017.

Indian defense minister A.K. Antony told the Indian Parliament that the Su-30MKIs would be delivered to the IAF during 2014-2018. The IAF currently operates five Su-30 squadrons, with three in Pune and two in Bareilly. Two more squadrons are likely to come up in Halwara (Punjab), Jodhpur (Rajasthan) and Tezpur, Chabua (Assam). The fighter will soon carry a version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.

The Sukhois are built under license at HAL’s five Divisions (Nasik, Koraput, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Korwa) and are later assembled, integrated, test-flown and delivered from Nasik. Fifty Sukhois initially came directly from Russia between 2002 and 2005. All of these divisions will be participating in the raw material phase of manufacturing the new Sukhois.

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