At a time when the US is strongly pitching the Boeing F-15EX fighter jet to Indian armed forces, Russia may be eying to sell its ‘most advanced’ Su-57 stealth fighters to New Delhi.
The Indian military has been on a shopping spree since the border standoff with China began last year. After almost nine months, the two counties finally agreed to disengage their troops from Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh last month.
During the standoff, India started receiving French Rafale jets. Out of 36 aircraft ordered, it has received 11 so far. Six more will be delivered this month.
India is looking to augment its fighter jet squadrons as China is believed to be possessing a massive fleet of combat aircraft, including the advanced Chengdu J-20 fighters.
While India started acquiring the Dassault Rafale fighters from France, the fact remains that its squadrons still need more aircraft. American aerospace giant Boeing has already disclosed that it is ready to offer its advanced F-15EX fighters to the country.
That Russia wants to pitch its advanced fighter jets to India can be gauged from the recently-concluded ‘Aero India’ exhibition.
Russian companies showcased more than 200 military hardware, including Su-35 fighters, MiG-35 fighters, helicopters Ka-52, Ka-226, Mi-17B-5, Mi-26, S-400 air defense systems among others.
India is seen as the prime import candidate for Moscow’s latest attack, reconnaissance, and surveillance helicopters. Russia displayed the Mi-28 attack helicopter and Mil Mi-17 transport chopper at the air show held in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru.
Russian officials speaking to state news agency TASS said that the military cooperation between Moscow and New Delhi will continue without any hindrance.
“We are successfully moving towards implementation of all priority projects – S-400 systems deliveries, AK-203 Kalashnikov’s contract, Ka-226 helicopters supplies and production in India, as well as an advanced cooperation in the areas of combat aviation (including Su-30MKI), main battle tanks (T-90), frigates, submarines, and missiles, along with joint production of the unique Brahmos,” according to the officials.
Russia also put on display a full-size model of the Su-57E stealth fighter, possibly to draw India’s attention to the capabilities of the ‘most advanced’ combat jet.
Rostec Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy Viktor Kladov, said that the unique set of features of the Sukhoi Su-57E stealth fighter has garnered huge interest from clients.
“If we speak about the Su-57E, this aircraft evokes high interest in many countries because it features unique combat properties and flight characteristics. We see that there is the need for next-generation aircraft and there are both a market niche and pre-requisites for the delivery of this plane,” Kladov was quoted as saying.
Developed by Moscow-headquartered aerospace company, Sukhoi, the single-seat, twin-engine Su-57 multirole aircraft has been designed to destroy all types of air, ground, and naval targets.
The fighter jet possesses supercruise, supermaneuverability, along with advanced avionics surpassing the capabilities of the prior generation fighters.
It also gives a tough competition to the American stealth duo, F-35 Lightning II and the F-22 Raptor.
The Russian fighter employs a broad use of composite materials which enables it to evade detection on enemy radars. Besides, the jet can fly at supersonic cruising speed and is furnished with the most advanced radio-electronic equipment.
The Su-57 boasts a powerful onboard computer (the so-called electronic second pilot), the radar system spread across its body, armament placed inside its fuselage, among others.
While India has a mix of Russian, French, and its indigenous LCA Tejas fighter aircraft, the possible acquisition of a stealth fighter will change the entire dynamic of the Indian Air Force.
With Russian military sources revealing last year that the Su-57 fighters are testing hypersonic missiles, India may find them hard to resist.