India will receive its first four Sukhoi Su-30 combat aircraft in March as part of a $1.5 billion deal for the purchase of 40 aircraft, dubbed the Su-30MKI.

Alexei Fedorov, the recently appointed general director of AVPK Sukhoi, says that India will receive eight of its aircraft this year.

The first four aircraft are likely to be little more than basic Su-30s . This aircraft, which was originally developed for the Russian air-defence forces, has no air-to-ground capability.

Fedorov says that, under a four-phase delivery programme, the Indian air force will eventually operate an advanced derivative of the Su-30, fitted with canard foreplanes and thrust-vector control.

Although only the final batch of aircraft within the order will have all the modifications when delivered, all the Su-30s will be brought up to the Su-30MKI standard (Flight International, 11-17 December, 1996).

The second batch of aircraft to be delivered will be fitted with Western avionics equipment, probably supplied by Sextant Avionique.

The definitive radar for the Su-30MKI has yet to be determined. The first four aircraft are likely to be fitted with the basic N-001 (Su-27) radar. The Indian air force wants a more advanced radar, with Russian and Western systems being considered.

Some 20% of the contract value is being earmarked for development of the aircraft, and the associated avionics and weapons systems.

No details have officially been released about the weapons package. Amodel of the Indian Su-30MKI showed it carrying the Raduga Kh-58M (AS-18 Kazoo) and Zvezda-Strela Kh-31 (AS-17 Krytpon) air to surface missiles, as well as the Vympel R-77 (AA-12 Adder) air-to-air missile.

A canard-fitted Su-30 airframe has been built at the Irkutsk production plant, although the aircraft is not thought to have yet had its first flight.

Source: Flight International