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Updated December 17th, 2023 at 15:50 IST

HAL's bold move to upgrade Su-30MKIs 78% indigenous components, reduce dependency in case of war

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) received approval for a ₹64,000 crore project to upgrade 84 Sukhoi Su-30MKI aircraft with 78% indigenous components.

Yuvraj Tyagi
Su-30MKI
HAL's comprehensive upgrade of Sukhoi Su-30MKI integrates cutting-edge technology, marking a significant step towards indigenization. | Image:X/@IAF_MCC
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In a significant stride towards indigenization, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is set to transform the Sukhoi Su-30MKI, marking a departure from its Russian origin. The comprehensive upgrade, sanctioned with ₹64,000 crores, aims to inject 78% indigenous components into the formidable fighter, aligning it with the evolving landscape of the Indian Air Force (IAF). 

The Defence Acquisition Council's nod on November 30 marked a watershed moment, approving the indigenization of 84 Sukhoi Su-30MKI aircraft in a phased approach. The ambitious project involves a holistic upgrade, encompassing radar, missiles, sensors, avionics, and more. Air Force Chief VR Choudhary affirmed that the Su-30MKI, post-upgrade, will shed its Russian identity, embodying an Indian jet with cutting-edge capabilities. 

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Air Chief's vision amid strategic investment and overhaul 

The sanctioned ₹64,000 crores underline the government's commitment to strengthening the IAF's capabilities. The comprehensive upgrade will feature state-of-the-art technologies, including new engines, IRST sensors, advanced jammers, and next-generation Radar Warning Receivers (RWR). The objective is to elevate the Su-30MKI to a 4.5-generation fighter, fostering synergy with other domestically manufactured aircraft.

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Credit- X/@IAF_MCC

During a recent address, Air Force Chief VR Choudhary emphasized the imperative of upgrading the aging fleet, comprising Mirage-2000, Su-30MKI, and MiG-29 aircraft. These stalwarts, serving for 30 to 35 years, require infusion with fifth-generation or the latest technology to remain operationally relevant. Choudhary highlighted the need for indigenous solutions in defense, drawing lessons from recent global conflicts. 

Lessons from global conflicts: Reduced Dependency on allies 

Referencing the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas conflicts, Choudhary stressed the importance of self-reliance in weaponry. The ongoing conflicts underscored that future wars cannot be waged with imported weapons alone. The IAF is actively pursuing the indigenization of defense systems, particularly in countering emerging threats like drones and hypersonic capabilities. 

HAL's initiative aligns with the larger strategy to reduce dependence on foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). The Mid Life Refit and Upgrade Program, including the manufacturing of new AL-31FP and RD-33 engines for Sukhoi and MiG-29 respectively, aims to fortify the IAF's strength and enhance operational autonomy. 

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The upgraded Su-30MKI is poised to play a pivotal role in bolstering India's air power, providing a formidable defense capability. The recent tender issued by the IAF to procure 12 advanced Sukhoi-30 fighter jets underscores the commitment to expanding squadron strength and reinforcing indigenous manufacturing capabilities. 

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Published December 17th, 2023 at 15:49 IST

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