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Russia Reiterates Offer Of Joint FGFA Program As An Alternative To ‘off The Shelf’ Su-57 Fighter Purchases For India

As India continues to consider options for the acquisition of a next generation fighter jet from Russia – seeking to provide its Air Force with a new heavyweight high performance combat jet to counter the fast growing capabilities of its neighbours – Russian Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov has reiterated that a contract for joint manufacture of such an aircraft incorporating Indian defence technologies remains possible.

Russia is marketing a number of high end combat jets to India, and alongside continued sales of MiG-29 and Su-30MKI fighters the country is also expected to purchase the Yak-130 fighter-trainer and the MiG-35 next generation medium fighter in the near future.

An offer to upgrade Indian Su-30 fighters to a ‘4++ generation’ standard is also under consideration – under which the jets would integrate new AL-41 thrust vectoring engines, Irbis-E radars and possibly R-37M hypersonic long range air to air missiles.

India has shown a strong interest in Russia’s Su-57 next generation heavyweight fighter, although with the aircraft having yet to enter service in the Russian Air Force itself Delhi is likely waiting to assess its performance before committing to a purchase. The possibly remains that India will purchase an initial batch of ‘off the shelf’ Su-57 jets from Russia to evaluate their capabilities – before entering into a contract for joint production.

This would be consistent with its acquisition strategy for the Su-30 – as before joint manufacturing of the Su-30MKI India purchased and evaluated the Su-30K from Russia. The capabilities of the jointly manufactured Su-30MKI variant were far superior to the Su-30K, but operating the jet familiarised the Indian Air Force with the airframe and its performance limitations – much as a Su-57 could do to precede a joint next generation program.

It is also possible that India intends to purchase more sophisticated future variants of the Su-57, likely to be dubbed ‘Su-60’ or something similar, once these become available – and possibly in a twin seat configuration which its Air Force has long favoured.

With next generation technologies from Saturn 30 engines to new hypersonic missiles and artificial intelligence systems being developed near continuously for the Su-57 program, such high end derivatives are likely to begin to emerge around the mid 2020s.

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4 Comments

  1. Since Russia is so desperate to sell the Su-57 to India, it is evident who the real beneficiary of the deal is. The Su-57 is powered by an engine that is an upgrade of the HIGH-MAINTENANCE one used on the Sukhoi Su-30MKI.
    In July 2018, in reply to a written question in Lok Sabha, the then Defence Minister late Manohar Parrikar had said, “There have been 34 occasions between April 1, 2014 and March 31 this year, when Su-30MKI fighter jets were forced to land on single engine due to mid-air engine problems. The manufacturer has offered certain modifications or technological improvements for implementation in the production of new aeroengines and during overhaul of engines. The modifications in the process of overhaul and manufacturing, proposed by Russian designers, have been implemented at HAL and the OEM.”
    RUSSIA IS USING INDIA AS A TESTING GROUND. They did this also in the case of the MiG-29K, which is based on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. In this case, not only the engine, even the fly-by-wire system and airframe was faulty. Out of 65 RD MK-33 engines received from Russia, India had to reject or withdraw at least 40 from service due to various problems. This is clear evidence of the quality of weapons supplied to India.
    Not surprisingly, this has lead to very low availability of both fighter aircrafts – Su-30 MKI and MiG-29K. In the case of the latter, as per the Comptroller and Auditor General of India report 2016: “serviceability of the MiG-29K was an unsatisfactory 37.63% until 2015.” That is really appalling.

  2. Just like the joint cooperation and production of the successful BrahMos missile system program between our two countries, we welcome with the same excitement, the joint cooperation for the building and the manufacturing of the most powerful – (SU 57 fighter jets) under the FGFA program that can be between Rosoboronexport, (DRDO) Defence Research and Development Organisation and (HAL) Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. We therefore want to see the SU 57 fighter aircraft in the IAF.

  3. If the Su-57 is such a great aircraft, why is it that that Russia wants to induct just a squadron (18-24 aircraft) of this fifth-generation fighter aircraft?? That definitely won’t inspire confidence at a time when the IAF feels that several features of the Su-57 are inferior to the US-made F-35 and F-22 jets.

  4. “As India continues to consider options for the acquisition of a next generation fighter jet from Russia” Really?? How was this conclusion arrived at??
    The IAF’s assessment was that the Su-57 wasn’t the fifth-generation fighter aircraft they were looking for. The IAF had also mentioned that they would do their next assessment AFTER THE Su-57 WAS IN ACTUAL USE BY THE VVS (Russian Air Force).

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