NEW DELHI: The Indian Air Force is requesting an additional 50 Sukhoi-30MKI aircraft to reinforce its air combat capability against Pakistan and China. These will be in addition to the 230 Sukhois already contracted from Russia, divided into three deals worth upward of $8.5 billion.
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd has been directed to complete the manufacture of 140 of the 230 Sukhois by 2015 under a transfer of technology agreement.
IAF commander Air Chief Marshal P V Naik said IAF’s acquisition of combat capabilities was not “country or adversary-specific.” While exuding “confidence” that a repeat of the 1962 conflict was simply “not possible,” the IAF chief said, “We need to develop certain capabilities which are required or will be required in the future in tune with India’s aspirations.”
Interestingly, he referred to the additional Su-30s in the same context as India’s nuclear-capable Agni-III missile, which will be ready for operational deployment by 2011, as well as the 5,000-kilometer-range Agni-V missile, already in the pipeline. This [might] suggest that the additional Su-30s may also be tasked with a nuclear delivery role.