Flanker turns 10 in Indian service
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.