Irkut set to upgrade India's Su-30s 'to fifth-generation standard'
Irkut Corporation's plans to upgrade the Indian Air Force's (IAF's) Su-30MKI fleet will provide the fighter with capabilities similar to that of fifth-generation combat aircraft, Russian industry officials have said.
Speaking at the Moscow Air Show on 19 August Alexei Fedorov, the head of Irkut, announced that in addition to upgraded cockpit avionics and enhancements to the aircraft's radar, the so-called 'Super Sukhoi' will also receive modifications aimed at improving stealth capabilities. While the exact nature of these stealth modifications remains unclear, reports suggest the work will specifically focus on reducing the aircraft's radar signature.
The enhancements to the aircraft's radar could include upgrading the existing NIIP N011M Bars radar with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) antenna, thereby offering a substantial improvement in performance.
Fedorov confirmed that negotiations for the upgrade of the Su-30MKI, of which the IAF will eventually operate 272, are at an advanced stage.
"The upgrade will apply not only to the aircraft in service with the IAF, but also to those yet to be delivered to India and those being licence-manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited [HAL]," Fedorov said.
India signed an INR150 billion (USD3.33 billion) deal in June 2010 for an additional 42 Su-30MKI 'Flanker-H' fighters, of which HAL is building 140 under licence.
Fedorov said the 'Super Sukhoi' would be able to carry a heavier weapon load, including the Indo-Russian developed BrahMos cruise missile, but declined to provide technical details of the upgrade or its cost as negotiations are continuing.
Source: By Rahul Bedi and JDW Correspondent New Delhi Additional reporting by Craig Caffrey - 05 Sep 2011 - www.janes.com
Photo: Irkut has proposed upgrading India's fleet of Su-30MKI fighter aircraft with fifth-generation features.(IHS Jane's/Patrick Allen)