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India approves procurement of additional Su-30s

The Indian Air Force's possible procurement of 12 new Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter aircraft could potentially allow it to form a new squadron. (Janes/Robert Hewson)

India's Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has accorded an Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) to procure 12 new Sukhoi Su-30MKI aircraft with associated equipment from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), according to the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 15 September.

The AoN signifies the initial approval for the defence acquisition. The AoN is part of an ongoing, four-year effort by the Indian Air Force (IAF) to procure 12 additional Su-30MKIs to replace attrition-related losses. According to data on air accidents assembled by Janes, nine Su-30MKIs have crashed since 2012.

However, an IAF source said the procurement of the 12 new aircraft could also support the formation of a new squadron. “The induction of 12 Su-30MKIs presents a superior capability than [ageing Mikoyan-Gurevich] MiG-21s,” the IAF source added.

Janes earlier reported that the establishment strength of an IAF squadron is 18 aircraft. Acquisition of 12 new aircraft would comprise two-thirds of a new squadron.

The IAF had earlier told Janes that it sought to acquire the 12 additional aircraft from Russia. However, in its 15 September statement, the MoD said that “all procurements will be made from Indian vendors under Buy (Indian-Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured [IDMM])/Buy (Indian) category”.

This procurement is intended to “boost … the Indian defence industry”, the MoD added.

An HAL source told Janes that the state-owned company is prepared to manufacture the aircraft when the order is officially placed. “An additional order would help the IAF bridge the gap between the existing and desired combat squadron strength in the shortest possible time and at minimum cost,” the source said.

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