How Sukhoi-30 fighter jets will help check Chinese footprint in Indian Ocean
The Indian Air Force is raising a new squadron of Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets at the Thanjavur air force station in Tamil Nadu on Monday, a development that will boost the IAF’s capabilities in peninsular India and help keep an eye on the Indian Ocean Region where Chinese footprint is growing at a swift pace.
The Sukhois will be equipped with the air version of the BrahMos cruise missile. The No. 222 squadron, nicknamed Tiger Sharks, is being raised with six Su-30 fighter jets and it will have its full complement of 18 warplanes by the year-end.
Here are eight things you should know about the Su-30s.
1. The IAF has contracted 272 Su-30 MKI fighter planes out of which nearly 260 have been delivered. The remaining 12 jets will be delivered by the end of 2020.
2. The first 50 jets came in ready from Russia; the remaining were being built under licence by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
3. The IAF inducted its first Su-30 fighter at the Lohegaon air base in Pune in June 1997. A total of 12 Su-30 jets have crashed since the fighter jets were inducted. The IAF is likely to place an order for 12 more jets to make up for the losses.
4. India’s Su-30 fleet has been plagued by engine troubles. The Russian-origin fighters have had a history of engine failures or engine-related problems.
5. In the past, the Su-30 fleet has battled poor serviceability, standing at barely 60%. Simply put, only 60 of 100 fighter planes were mission-ready at any given time.
6. India successfully launched the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile, BrahMos, from a specially-modified Su-30 warplane for the first time against a target in the Bay of Bengal in November 2017. The BrahMos missile, an Indo-Russian joint venture, has a range of 290 km.
7. At least two Su-30 squadrons consisting of 18 planes each are likely to be equipped with the 2.5-tonne missile that flies at nearly three times the speed of sound.
8. The BrahMos missile is the heaviest weapon to be deployed on the Su-30. The missile’s land and naval variants– 500kg heavier than the air launched version– are already in service. BrahMos is now capable of being launched from land, sea and air, completing the tactical cruise missile triad for India.