Big-ticket Sukhoi-30 deal almost done
Govt will soon ink a $1.6 bn deal with Russia for the supply of 40 Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters, reports Rahul Singh.Updated: Feb 09, 2007, 03:48 IST
Here’s the latest indicator of the India-Russia love affair being in full bloom. The government is on the verge of inking a $1.6 billion deal with Russia for the supply of 40 Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters. The air superiority fighters will be inducted into the Indian Air Force’s combat fleet “in about three years”.
Air Chief SP Tyagi, who is here for Aero India 2007, revealed on Thursday that the contract would be signed before the current financial year ends. This means the deal will be sealed before Tyagi retires on March 31. The government has invoked the fast-track procedure to buy the Su-30s.
AERO INDIA 2007
Flyboys: The show gave Air Marshal Fali Homi Major a chance to do what he does best. Major — who, when he takes over as Air Chief on March 31, will be the first helicopter pilot to do so — took a spin in a Boeing Chinook, something the IAF hopes to acquire in the near future. Aerospace and defence firms here are offering demonstration flights to officers in frontline fighters. Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal A.K. Nagalia got to get behind the joy stick of an F-16.
Joint venture: Russia and India will pitch for the global market through joint design and development of the multi-role transport aircraft, Victor Livanov of the Ilyushin Aviation Complex said. This aircraft will be designed jointly by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and Ilyushin Aviation Complex under a $600 project with the two firms going dutch on the cost. They plan to market 200 aircraft globally and manufacture an equal number for the two air forces.
The IAF will also be inducting, in the short-term, 80 medium-lift helicopters, 12 VIP choppers, advanced light helicopters, 10 Cheetahs and Israeli Phalcon AWACS (airborne warning and control systems).
Then there are the 126 multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) that the IAF seeks to acquire and the request for proposal for this is likely to be released soon. The IAF is also planning to acquire six C-130 J Hercules aircraft from the United States for special forces. This year, the IAF will also receive the first of the 66 Hawk AJT (advanced jet trainer) being bought from the UK.
Tyagi, who will pass the baton to Air Marshal Fali Homi Major, made it clear his successor would have his work cut out for him. “Air Marshal Major has a task ahead of him. The air force has to lay the groundwork for absorbing new equipment and technology in terms of spares, ground systems, maintenance and other infrastructure issues.”
Reflecting on his tenure as Air Chief, Tyagi admitted that the air force had “faced problems of numbers, old aircraft and replacement just like any other air force”.
He said the IAF would not split the order for the 126 aircraft; the entire lot would be purchased from one vendor after floating a global tender. His remarks put an end to speculation that the IAF was considering splitting the contract. He emphasised the importance of maintaining commonality in the combat fleet, which has a mix of Russian, British and French platforms.
Tyagi did not rule out the possibility of buying second-hand aircraft if it suited the IAF’s requirements and if the price was right. The IAF had shown interest in buying 12 Mirage 2000s from Qatar last year but things did not work out as the machines were priced exorbitantly.