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15 Sep, 2023 15:09

India clears path for purchase of Russian-designed warplanes

The 12 Sukhoi fighter jets are part of a $5.4 billion spending package approved by the country’s defense ministry
India clears path for purchase of Russian-designed warplanes

India is set to purchase 12 Russian-designed warplanes as part of a 450-billion-rupees ($5.4 billion) spending package approved by the country’s defense ministry on Friday.

The Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighter jets will be built under license for the Indian Air Force by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). 

Over 60% of the jets’ components will be indigenous to India, and the 12 warplanes will be “the most modern Su-30 MKI aircraft of the Indian Air Force, equipped with multiple Indian weapons and sensors,” ANI news agency reported, citing defense officials. 

The Indian Air Force presently operates around 260 fourth-generation Su-30 MKI fighters, more than 220 of which were assembled by HAL at its Nashik facility under a licensing agreement following the transfer of technology by Russia to India. The Su-30 MKI has emerged as a pivotal asset for the Indian Air Force’s capabilities.

The purchase has been approved by India’s Defense Acquisition Council (DAC), which is headed by Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, according to an official statement, and can now progress to the next stage of procurement. It noted that all purchases would be made from Indian vendors, “which will give a substantial boost to the Indian defense industry” in accordance with the objective of achieving ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ or a ‘self-reliant India.’

Other purchases approved under the spending plan include Light Armored Multipurpose Vehicles (LAMV) and Integrated Surveillance and Targeting Systems (ISAT-S) for enhancing the protection, mobility, attack capability, and increased survivability of India’s mechanized forces. 

High Mobility Vehicles (HMV) will also be acquired for swift mobilization and deployment of artillery guns and radars. The DAC has also approved the procurement of next-generation survey vessels for the Indian Navy, which will greatly enhance its capabilities in performing hydrographic operations, the statement added.

India’s Dornier aircraft will also be upgraded under the spending plan to improve their accuracy and reliability. Meanwhile, Dhruvastra Short Range Air-to-Surface Missiles will be acquired for indigenously built Dhruv advanced light helicopters. Singh emphasized the importance of the “indigenization” of the country’s defense infrastructure, setting a minimum target of 60% for indigenous components.