Indian Air Force (IAF) chief RKS Bhadauria flew a Sukhoi SU-30MKI in Bengaluru on Thursday to witness the fighter jet’s “capability enhancement”, IAF said in a tweet.
While the service did not explain what this “capability enhancement” is all about, there is speculation that the IAF chief took stock of the upgrades made on the aircraft to carry home-grown weapons such BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, RUDRAM anti-radiation missile besides the European MICA air-to-air missile.
The SU-30MKI was modified to carry the nuclear-capable BrahMos, considered the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile.
Amid the border standoff with China, IAF had in October 2020 carried out a successful test-firing of the DRDO-developed air-launched BrahMos missile from a Sukhoi-30 jet in the Bay of Bengal.
In the same month, RUDRAM was test-launched from the aircraft. The RUDRAM is India’s first home-grown anti-radiation missile, developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
Prior to that, in August, the Air Force had test-fired the multi-target MBDA MICA missile from the Sukhoi-30 MKI.
“CAS (Chief of Air Staff) visited Bengaluru and interacted with the test crew of Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) & software engineers of Software Development Institute,” IAF tweeted on Thursday.
“He reviewed ongoing projects & flew a Su-30MKI to witness the capability enhancement on successful completion of one such project,” the Air Force said. The Air Chief Marshal also reviewed the ongoing projects.
The ASTE is tasked with conducting flight testing of aircraft, airborne systems, and weapons prior to their induction into the IAF.
The Su-30MKI Multirole Fighter
Developed by Russia’s Sukhoi and built under license by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the IAF, the Sukhoi Su-30MKI, is a twin-engine multirole air superiority heavy, all-weather, long-range fighter jet.
The Su-30MKIs are the frontline aircraft of the IAF. With a top speed of 2120 kmph and takeoff weight of 38,800 kg, the fighter jet can carry a wide range of equipment from radars to missiles and rockets.
The fighter jet can be equipped with a variety of medium-range guided air-to-air missiles with active or semi-active radar or infrared homing close-range missiles.
The multi-role fighter can also be used for nuclear strikes. Its super-maneuverability not only provides unmatched superiority in a dogfight but is considered as one of the most powerful ‘air superiority jets’ in the whole of Asia.
CAS visited Bengaluru & interacted with test crew of Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment & software engineers of Software Development Institute. He reviewed ongoing projects & flew a Su-30MKI to witness the capability enhancement on successful completion of one such project. pic.twitter.com/78cgX5oJzL
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) April 8, 2021
The Su-30 MKI has a range of 3000 km with internal fuel that can sustain for nearly four hours, a good enough time during combat missions. It can also be refueled midair.
The IAF operates around 272 Su-30MKI jets. India is the largest operator of the export-oriented Su-30MKI multirole fighters in the world.
The Indian Su-30MKI reportedly possesses advanced Israeli avionics and electronic warfare systems, making them different from the standard Su-30s.
The fighters have been a vital part of India’s aerial strength possessed, and are looked at as a strong option to secure the country’s boundaries alongside the French-made Rafales, which are the latest aircraft acquired by the nation.
In February, Sergei Kornev, an official from Russia’s state arms seller Rosoboronexport, said India and Russia were in talks to modernize the IAF’s Su-30MKI fighter jet fleet.