According to Wikipedia, “(t)he Sukhoi Su-30MKI is a super-maneuverable air superiority fighter developed by Russia’s Sukhoi and built under licence by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF).”
It is a variant of Russia’s Su-30, and shares components with the highly sophisticated Su-35. It is an all-weather, long-range fighter.
So not only does Russia make a very sophisticated fighter plane like the Su-35, but it is spreading the technology to certain countries.
Development of the variant started after India signed a deal with Russia in 2000 to manufacture 140 Su-30 fighter jets.
The first Russian-made Su-30MKI variant was accepted into the Indian Air Force in 2002, while the first India-assembled Su-30MKI entered service with the IAF in 2004. Additional MKIs have been ordered to increase the total to 272. The IAF had 200 Su-30MKIs in service as of August 2014.
The Su-30MKI is expected to form the backbone of the Indian Air Force’s fighter fleet to 2020 and beyond.
The aircraft is tailor-made for Indian specifications and integrates Indian systems and avionics as well as French and Israeli subsystems. It has abilities similar to the Sukhoi Su-35 with which it shares many features and components.
The Su-30MKI was jointly designed by Russia’s Sukhoi Corporation and India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The Indian Air Force’s Sukhoi Su-30MKI is considered to be a generation ahead of Su-30MKK/MK2 fighters sold to China.
Russia’s Defense Ministry was impressed enough with the performance of the Su-30MKI to have ordered 30 Su-30SMs, a localized version of the Su-30MKI, for the Russian Air Force.
It features state of the art avionics developed by Russia, India, and Israel which includes display, navigation, targeting and electronic warfare systems. Some avionics suites used in the aircraft were also sourced from France and South Africa.
After two years of evaluation and negotiations, India signed a US$1.462 billion deal with the Sukhoi Corporation on 30 November 1996 for the delivery of 50 Su-30MKI aircraft in five batches. The first batch were eight Su-30MKs, the basic version of Su-30. The second batch were to be 10 Su-30Ks with French and Israeli avionics.
The third batch were to be 10 Su-30MKIs featuring canard foreplanes. The fourth batch of 12 Su-30MKIs and final batch of 10 Su-30MKIs aircraft all were to have the AL-31FP turbofans. These 50 aircraft were made by Sukhoi in Russia.
In October 2000, a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) was signed confirming the license production of 140+ Su-30MKIs in India and in December 2000. The deal was sealed at Russia’s Irkutsk aircraft plant, with full technology transfer.
The first Su-30MKIs from Nasik, India, were to be delivered from 2004, with the staged production until 2017–18. However in November 2002, the delivery schedule was expedited with production to be completed by 2015. An estimated 920 AL-31FP turbofans are to be manufactured at HAL’s Koraput Division, while the mainframe and other accessories are to be manufactured at HAL’s Divisions in Lucknow and Hyderabad.
Final integration of the aircraft and its test flight are to be carried out at HAL’s Nasik Division.
The MKI production was planned to be done in four phases, with increasing Indian content: Phase I, II, III and IV respectively. In phase I, HAL manufactured the aircraft from completely knocked-down kits, moving to semi knocked-down kits in phase II and III, with the phase IV featuring aircraft manufactured by HAL from raw materials. Phase IV aircraft started getting delivered in 2013.
In 2008, Samtel HAL Display Systems (SHDS), a joint venture between Samtel Display Systems and HAL, won a contract to develop and manufacture multi-function avionics displays for the MKI. A helmet mounted display, Topsight-I, based on technology from Thales and developed by SHDS will be integrated on the Su-30MKI in the next upgrade.
In March 2010, it was reported that India and Russia were discussing a contract for 42 more Su-30MKIs. In June 2010, it was reported that the Cabinet Committee on Security had cleared the INR150 billion (US$2.4 billion) deal and that the 42 aircraft would be in service by 2018.
By August 2010, the cost increased to $4.3 billion or $102 million each. This increased unit cost compared to the previous unit cost of $40 million in 2007, has led to the rumors that this order is for the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) and these aircraft will be optimized and hardwired for nuclear weapons delivery. The SFC had previously submitted a proposal to the Indian Defence Ministry for setting up two dedicated squadrons of fighters consisting of 40 aircraft capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
So, it seems that India will have sophisticated fighter jets capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
HAL expected that indigenisation of the Su-30MKI program would be completed by 2010. V. Balakrishnan, general manager of the Aircraft Manufacturing Division stated that “HAL will achieve 100 per cent indigenisation of the Sukhoi aircraft – from the production of raw materials to the final plane assembly”.
On 11 October 2012, the Indian Government confirmed plans to buy another 42 Su-30MKI aircraft. On 24 December 2012, India ordered assembly kits for 42 Su-30MKIs by signing a deal during President Putin’s visit to India. This increases India’s order total to 272 Su-30MKIs.
The Sukhoi Su-30MKI is the most potent fighter jet in service with the Indian Air Force in the late 2000s, and the MKIs are often fielded by the IAF in bilateral and multilateral air exercises.