New Delhi, September 15
Three months after securing a path-breaking deal with the US on procuring cutting-edge jet engine technology and armed drones, India has gone back to its cold-war era ally Russia and okayed the procurement of 12 Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter jets for the Indian Air Force.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the apex decision-making body of the Ministry of Defence, on Friday okayed the acquisition of 12 Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter jets with associated equipment to be provided by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Tiding over shortfall due to crashes
- The 12 Sukhois will tide over the shortfall caused by crashes and address the falling number of fighter jet squadrons
- Since 2009, there have been 12 crashes involving Sukhoi
- In all, 272 Sukhois have been inducted into the Air Force in batches since July 1997
- Moscow has given licence to HAL to produce the twin-engined Sukhoi
Procurements okayed by DAC
- 12 Sukhoi 30 MKI jets
- Light Armoured Multipurpose Vehicles
- Integrated Surveillance and Targeting System
- High Mobility Vehicle
- Gun Towing Vehicles
- Next-Generation Survey Vessels
The big side story is that India has again ignored the threat of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which authorises the US administration to impose sanctions on countries that purchase major defence hardware from Russia in response to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
In July last year, Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna had introduced a Bill that was okayed by the US House of Representatives, seeking a waiver for India against the punitive CAATSA sanctions after New Delhi purchased the S-400 air defence missiles from Russia.
Moscow has given licence to the HAL to produce the Russian-origin twin-engined Sukhoi. In all, 272 Sukhois have been inducted into the IAF in batches since July 1997. The 12 planes are to tide over the shortfall caused by crashes and will address the falling number of fighter jet squadrons. Since 2009, there have been 12 crashes involving the Sukhoi.
The IAF at present has 32 squadrons of fighter jets against the 42 mandated by the government to tackle a collusive threat from China and Pakistan. The number could go down to 28 squadrons by 2024-25 when all the MiG 21s are phased out.
The Sukhoi can also fire the Brahmos missile to a distance of 500 km, widening the arc of operations. The 12 Sukhois will help cover the immediate shortage even as the first of the 83 jets of the Tejas Mark1-A is slated to be delivered in February 2024. Meanwhile, the DAC accorded an Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) — the first step of the tendering process — for nine capital acquisition proposals of approximately Rs 45,000 crore. Chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the meeting decided that all these procurements would be made from Indian vendors.
The DAC accorded an AoN for procurement of Light Armoured Multipurpose Vehicles (LAMVs) and Integrated Surveillance and Targeting System (ISAT-S). It also cleared AoN for procurement of High Mobility Vehicle and Gun Towing Vehicles for swift mobilisation and deployment of radars and artillery guns. The DAC also approved the procurement of Next-Generation Survey Vessels for the Indian Navy and upgradation of avionics of Dornier aircraft. A Short Range Air-to-Surface Missile has been okayed for the ALH Mk-IV Helicopters, the MoD said.
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