Photo by © Indian Air Force (IAF)

Modernisation of Indian Su-30MKI fighters includes engine replacement with the AL-41F-1S engine

Photo by © Indian Air Force (IAF)

The Indian Ministry of Defence has decided to modernise its fleet of Su-30MKI fighters. The work will be carried out by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with the support of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The project aims to improve the aircraft by integrating new airborne radars, flight control system and weapons.

According to The Economic Times columnist Sarahbeth George, the stand-alone upgrade of Russian combat aircraft underscores India’s desire for autonomy in defence production.

The modernisation will include the introduction of Indian radar systems (radars), avionics (avionics), new electronic warfare (EW) equipment. The integration of infrared search and tracking systems will significantly improve the targeting of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. The project is designed to actively involve the private sector in the modernisation process. The installation of new components is planned first, followed by the introduction of new flight control technologies. HAL, as a leading integrator, is playing a key role in this process.

“By modernising its Su-30MKI fleet, India is also opening up opportunities for the global market. More than 600 Su-27/30 type aircraft are in operation across the globe. Countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Algeria represent a significant export market for Indian upgrades. India’s initial order for 272 Su-30MKI fighters from Russia forms the backbone of the IAF’s fighter fleet, with an additional order for 12 aircraft received last year,” the publication said.

The Su-30MKI fleet has been continuously modernised for more than a decade, with new weapons and sensors being introduced into the fighter. Additions to the Su-30MKI’s armament include BrahMos and Astra-class missiles, with further integration expected with next-generation NGARMs anti-radar missiles.

Russia has insisted on replacing the previous generation AL-31FP engine with the modern AL-41F-1S, which has a thrust of 14,500 kgf, a marked improvement over the AL-31FP engines with a thrust of 12,500 kgf.

The upgrade of the Su-30MKI fighter fleet represents a significant step towards improving India’s defence capability and achieving self-sufficiency in defence production, Sarabeth Jones said. The successful modernisation of the Su-30MKI is expected to strengthen New Delhi’s position in the global arms market while ensuring combat readiness of the IAF’s fighter fleet.