Updated May 13th, 2024 at 19:43 IST

Russia's Su-35 Flanker Gets Advanced Avionics Complex, IAF Needs to Follow Suit with Modernisation

Russia's Aerospace Forces receive advanced Su-35S multirole fighters, showcasing technological prowess.

Reported by: Yuvraj Tyagi
Su-35 Fighter | Image:AP
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Moscow: In a significant development bolstering Russia's aerial defence capability, the Russian Aerospace Forces recently received a batch of advanced Su-35S multirole fighters of generation 4++. Produced by the renowned Gagarin Aircraft Plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, these cutting-edge aircraft represent Russia's continued efforts to enhance its military prowess.  

The delivery of the Su-35S fighters marks a milestone achievement for the Gagarin Aircraft Plant, signalling the attainment of a rhythmical production pace. This batch of combat aircraft represents the second instalment delivered to the Aerospace Forces, underscoring the plant's dedication to fulfilling its production commitments. Yuri Slyusar, CEO of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), lauded the plant's efforts in meeting delivery targets and emphasized its ongoing endeavours to produce subsequent batches of serial Su-35 and Su-57 jets.  

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Technological advancements of Su-35S  

The Su-35S, also known as the Flanker-E+ by NATO classification, epitomizes a paradigm shift in aerial warfare with its advanced features and capabilities. As a deeply upgraded super-maneuverable multirole fighter of generation 4++, the Su-35S incorporates fifth-generation technologies, setting new standards in combat aviation. Equipped with a state-of-the-art digital avionic complex, the Su-35S boasts advanced navigational and targeting systems, enhancing its operational efficiency and combat effectiveness.

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The aircraft also features a new radar with a passive phased antenna array, enabling increased tracking and engagement of multiple targets simultaneously. This radar system significantly enhances situational awareness and target acquisition capabilities.

Powered by plasma-ignition engines of increased capacity, the Su-35S achieves supersonic speeds without the need for an additional boost, demonstrating its prowess in high-speed manoeuvrability and performance. Following rigorous ground and flight trials, the Su-35S fighters completed their testing phase and were deployed from Komsomolsk-on-Amur to the designated deployment airfield. These aircraft are poised to reinforce the Russian Aerospace Forces' operational capabilities, contributing to the nation's defence readiness and strategic deterrence.  

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Why IAF needs to push for Su-30MKI modernization  

As the Indian Air Force (IAF) endeavours to modernize its fleet of Su-30MKI fighter jets, delays and challenges threaten to undermine its strategic edge and potentially necessitate costly imports. Despite the Su-30MKI's significance as a cornerstone of the IAF's aerial defence capabilities, the pace of modernization efforts has been sluggish, raising concerns about operational readiness and technological obsolescence.

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The Su-30MKI, initially delivered to the IAF in 2002, has not undergone any significant upgrades since its induction into service. Lacking advancements in electronics and weapon systems, these aircraft risk losing their competitive edge in modern aerial warfare scenarios. With over two decades of neglect, the Su-30MKI's potential as a cutting-edge platform hangs in the balance.   

The Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) took a crucial step forward on November 30, 2023, by granting Acceptance of Necessity (AoNs) for the modernization of IAF Su-30MKIs by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). This modernization initiative aims to equip the aircraft with indigenous Virupaksha AESA radar and avionics, along with integrated long-range weapon systems. Additionally, the program seeks to extend the operational lifespan of the Su-30MKI fleet by over 20 years, with an initial focus on upgrading 84 fighters. As India navigates the complexities of Su-30MKI modernization, strategic partnerships and technological advancements will play pivotal roles in shaping the program's trajectory. 

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Published May 13th, 2024 at 19:43 IST