Ever since the India-China border clash broke out, New Delhi has been aggressively procuring military equipment to boost its defence. After the deal to acquire 36 Rafale jets, India still needs to procure modern combat jets which could include additional Rafales, Russian heavyweight jets like Su-35s or American jets including F-21s.
Last year, Russia had offered to work with India as a Strategic Partner (SP) under Make in India Initiative when the MiG and Sukhoi series were competing for IAF’s massive contract for 114 jets. Russia had chosen to collaborate with the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. as its SP.
Russia considered Su-35 as an interim solution; as a state-of-art air superiority fighter to sustain the Russian Aerospace Forces through the 2010s until the Su-57 fifth-generation stealth fighter enters serial production.
However, the Su-35 has been very successful, almost too successful for its own good that it appeared to tarnish the reputation its more expensive Su-57 successor. According to defence experts, at full power, the radar of Su-35 can detect an F-35 at a distance of 58-km and in the tracking mode, the distance drops to 29km.
As reported earlier by Eurasian Times, the Indian Air Force is planning to upgrade the Su-30MKI with modern “radar and weapons capabilities and also enhance features that tackle obsolescence management and electronic warfare aspects”, the then Indian Air Force Chief Rakesh Kumar Bhadauria had confirmed.
According to sources, along with the 114 Su-35s to be manufactured in India, the Russian offer includes the ability to modernise the country’s existing fleet of over 250 Su-30MKI heavyweight fighters. However, in comparison to MiG-35s and Rafales, Su-35 jets have higher maintenance requirements and operational costs.
Russia has reportedly agreed to provide a number of Su-35 technologies as part of the contract, which could be used to upgrade India’s Su-30 MKI fleet. Many of them will be manufactured in India itself, and this will significantly improve the performance of the jets.
Su-35 fighters are capable of speeds of 2,800 kilometres per hour over an altitude of 11 kilometers, with a range of 4,500 kilometers. With the added external fuel tanks, it will allow the fighters to travel even further distance without having to refuel.
Their in-flight refuelling capabilities make them competitive with US F-35 fighter jets. It perceived as the ultimate variant of the big Russian fighter sometimes referred to as the “Super Flanker.” The Su-35 features thrust-vectoring engines and a brand-new mission suite, including a Tikhomirov NIIP N135 Irbis Passive Electronically Scanned Array (PESA) radar and a “glass” cockpit.
Experts believe that such an offer by Russia can surely tempt New Delhi to get 114 Su-35 along with upgraded Su-30 MKIs which are expected to give a further boost to the IAF after it recently received the first batch of Rafale jets.
Recently, after procuring 24 Rafale fighter jets from France, Egypt did not feel the need to add more Rafales to its fleet and instead opted for Russian heavy-weigh Sukhoi Su-35 jets. As EurAsian Times reported, the key objective of Egypt to acquire Su-35s over Rafale jets was that the Russian fighters can outperform the Israeli and US warplanes in the Middle-East region.