Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) is nearing the end of a 222-aircraft license production run for the Sukhoi Su-30MKI, with the last aircraft now undergoing final acceptance tests.
Seshagiri Rao, chief executive of the HAL MiG complex, says production of the 221st aircraft, modified to carry the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, has been completed and the 222nd example will be delivered to the Indian air force from HAL’s Nashik factory.
When the 222nd aircraft is completed, HAL will wait for a final order for 12 aircraft worth approximately Rs10 billion ($1.5 billion).
In the meantime, HAL will focus on repair and overhaul of the air force’s approximately 260-strong Su-30MKI fleet.
The Aircraft Overhaul Division at Nashik overhauled 15 aircraft in 2020 and plans to match this output in 2021.
The state-owned airframer has also been exploring opportunities to use Su-30MKI work capacity by taking up additional orders for overhauls. Towards this end, Rao says that facilities are being upgraded to cater for 20 aircraft annually, and that this project is nearing completion.
In addition to repair and overhaul work on the thrust-vectoring type, HAL is keen to conclude a long pending proposal to upgrade a significant number of Su-30MKIs with a new radar, weapons control system, mission computer, communications suite and various new air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions.
According to Rao, discussions on the upgrade proposal are significantly advanced with HAL’s Russian counterparts and could be concluded within the next six to nine months. The upgrade work will be performed in two phases, with Russian designers and OEMs undertaking the first phase, following which the aircraft will return to India to be upgraded with indigenous systems, sensors and weapons at HAL’s Nashik plant.
HAL is also looking to make use of the extensive infrastructure at Nashik to build the AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft) once it is ready for production. It will also look to shift production of the HTT-40 trainer to Nashik after completion of an initial batch built in Bengaluru.
New Delhi originally inked a contract for supply of eight Su-30Ks and 32 upgraded Su-30MKs in November 1996, with a follow-on order for 10 more SU-30MKs in December 1998.
The first SU-30Ks were inducted into service in June 1997 (later replaced by MKI variants) and the first SU-30MKIs entered service in September 2002.
HAL received three contracts for license production. These involved a contract for 140 aircraft in December 2000, 40 in March 2007, and 42 in December 2012. The first HAL-assembled SU-30MKI was delivered to the air force in November 2004.
Updated with last three paragraphs, detailing Su-30 orders and HAL’s production contracts.