As India continues to consider options for the acquisition of a next-generation fighter jet, Russian Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov has reiterated that a contract for joint manufacture of SU-57 aircraft incorporating Indian defence technologies remains very much possible.
The SU-57 fighter jet is designed to have supercruise, supermaneuverability, stealth, and advanced avionics to overcome the prior generation fighter aircraft as well as ground and naval defences.
Russia is marketing a number of high-end combat jets to India and alongside continued sales of MiG-29 and Su-30MKI fighters the country is also could also purchase the Yak-130 fighter-trainer and the MiG-35 next-generation medium fighter in the near future.
An offer to upgrade Indian Su-30 fighters to a ‘4++ generation’ standard is also under consideration – under which the jets would integrate new AL-41 thrust-vectoring engines, Irbis-E radars and possibly R-37M hypersonic long-range air to air missiles.
India has shown some interest in Russia’s Su-57 next-generation heavyweight fighter, although with the aircraft having yet to enter service in the Russian Air Force, New Delhi is likely to wait and assess its performance before making any commitments.
Experts talking to the EurAsian Times states that the possibility remains that India could seriously consider purchasing an initial batch of ‘off the shelf’ Su-57 jets from Russia to evaluate their capabilities – before entering into a contract for joint production.
This would be consistent with its acquisition strategy for the Su-30 – as before joint manufacturing of the Su-30MKI India purchased and evaluated the Su-30K from Russia. The capabilities of the jointly manufactured Su-30MKI variant were far superior to the Su-30K, but operating the jet familiarised the Indian Air Force with the airframe and its performance limitations – much as a Su-57 could do to precede a joint next-generation program.
It is also possible that India could purchase more sophisticated future variants of the Su-57 once they become available – and possibly a twin-seat configuration which the Indian its Air Force has long favoured.
With next-generation technologies from Saturn 30 engines to new hypersonic missiles and artificial intelligence systems being developed near continuously for the Su-57 program, such high-end derivatives are likely to begin to emerge around the mid-2020s.