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Home > News > PTI

IAF to acquire 40 Sukhoi jets from Russia

February 08, 2007 15:27 IST

Resorting to a fast-track approach to "fill in the inevitable gaps", the Indian Air Force on Thursday announced the acquisition of a large number of fighters and other aircraft over the next few years, including 40 Sukhoi-30 fighter jets from Russia.

"Government has cleared the purchase of 40 more Sukhoi-30. We will sign the financial contract (with Russian manufacturer of the same name) within this financial year", IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi, told reporters in Bangalore. He said the negotiations were still continuing and the delivery schedule, on which talks were going on, would be roughly about three years. The ballpark figure of the price of each of these aircraft was around $40 million dollars. On the acquisition of the 126 multi-role combat aircraft, Tyagi said there would be a global competition and only one foreign vendor would be selected for the entire order.

The selected vendor, which would supply one squadron of these combat jets of the shelf, would have to tie-up with Indian PSUs like Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for licensed production of the remaining aircraft.

Tyagi, who was accompanied by air chief-designate Air Marshal Fali Major, said, "Our philosophy is that we will go to one (foreign) vendor for the sake of commonality."

He, however, made it clear that this vendor would have to tie up with the Indian vendor for licensed production of the MRCA in India.

The air chief also said there was no question of changing the number of MRCAs required from the present 126. Defence Minister A K Antony had on Wednesday announced that the process for a final decision on the Request for Proposals would be taken "very shortly". The IAF chief listed out other aircraft planned for acquisition in the next few years. These were 80 medium-lift helicopters, 12 VIP choppers, the Advanced Light Helicopters and six 130J Hercules tankers.

The deliveries of the first of the Hawk advanced jet trainers produced by British Aerospace are also scheduled to begin in 2007.

"Negotiations are going on with the US (for the Hercules), the price has to be right," the air chief said. To questions on IAF's requirement for the heavy-lift helicopter, he said, "We will acquire it. The process is going on".

Asked about the air force planning to acquire modified second hand fighter planes, he said, "We have tried to acquire second-hand Mirages from Qatar. If the deal is right, the price is right, we will look at it".

Tyagi said the MiG-29s and the Mirage-2000s would require upgrades, which would not only enhance their power thrust and improve their avionics, but also extend their life.

On the Fifth Generation Aircraft to be produced jointly with Russia, Tyagi said the IAF has been continuing discussions over the past five years for such an aircraft. "We have decided on our requirements and the aircraft will meet those requirements."

Asked about the establishment of the aerospace command, Tyagi said discussions were going on in this regard as to "what shape it will take, how we can manage it or what kind of experts do we need to manage it. You cannot have an aerospace command just tomorrow."

To a question on Pakistan's demand to China to supply the Russian-made RD-33 aero-engines for its fighter jets, he said, "The Russians have assured us that it will not go to anybody."

He said, "Sometimes we bother too much about our neighbours. Though we definitely take note of what our adversaries are acquiring, the global vendor game is changing rapidly. Major world companies are changing hands from one country to another. It is a tricky situation and we have to navigate through it."

In his opening remarks, the air chief said the IAF had adopted a three-pronged procurement strategy. "We upgrade the older equipment to keep it as contemporary as is financially and practically viable; procure what we need, based on a long-term pespective plan -- either indigenous or not; and resort to fast-track purchases to fill in the inevitable gaps."

Tyagi also said the IAF was a "trans-oceanic force with a strategic reach and is in the process of transformation into a regional force. The IAF is most ideally suited to ensure national interests anywhere within India's expanding strategic frontiers."



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