Flanker turns 10 in In­dian ser­vice

SP's MAI - - SP’S EXCLUSIVES -

The ven­er­a­ble Su-30MKI, the de­fin­i­tive vari­ant of the iconic Rus­sian air dom­i­nance fighter, has turned ten in the ser­vice of the In­dian Air Force — one of the largest Flanker op­er­a­tors in the world to­day. In­ducted in Septem­ber 2002, and with li­cence pro­duc­tion be­gin­ning to take-off two years later, the In­dian Air Force is now at the cusp of a first cy­cle of mod­erni­sa­tion of what is eas­ily its most ad­vanced jet.

With a fleet of nearly 300 MKIs by the end of this decade, the IAF will have one of the largest air dom­i­nance fleets in the world if cou­pled with the in­tended pur­chase of sim­i­larly ca­pa­ble Rafale jets as part of the medium mul­ti­role com­bat air­craft (MMRCA) com­pe­ti­tion. The Su-30MKI has proven a re­li­able and supremely nim­ble plat­form in In­dian ser­vice, de­ployed for ex­er­cises abroad, air dis­plays across the coun­try, for is­land pro­tec­tion, air de­fence, air cover for VVIP air­craft and other du­ties through the years. Now de­ployed with the Cen­tral, East­ern and West­ern Com­mands, and with de­tach­ments op­er­a­tional at bases in the West and South, the Su-30MKI rep­re­sents a plat­form of co­op­er­a­tion that the In­dian and Rus­sian Gov­ern­ments hope to ex­po­nen­tially lever­age and in­crease in the far more co­op­er­a­tive and am­bi­tious per­spec­tive multi-role fighter (PMF/FGFA) project, in which HAL re­cently un­veiled the wind-tun­nel model of its in­tended In­dian vari­ant.

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