For more than 10 years, Bharatiya Vayu Sena (Indian Air Force) has been purchasing and commissioning Russian-designed Su-30MKI fighters. Currently, BSV operates about 200 aircraft of this model. Ultimately, by 2018, India wants to commission 272 of them. The question is, what for, if almost half of those already operational, suffer major malfunctions of electronic equipment, which affect their capabilities and the fighting potential. For comparison, the operational readiness of older and remaining in service for much longer MiGs- 29 and Mirage 2000 jets totals up 75%.
– Su-30MKI fighters have been purchased since the mid-‘90s. Those jets are a fundamental element of BVS’s modernization program, which also includes commissioning 126 Rafale multirole fighters,
– BVS currently operates about 200 Su-30MKI fighters, which form 8 squadrons. By 2018, India wants to commission 272 jets, forming 17 squadrons, spaced throughout the entire country, but especially, in vicinity to Chinese and Pakistani borders,
– unfortunately, operational readiness of Indian Su-30MKIs is far from expectations and currently is estimated to total up more less 50%. This means, that nearly half of Indian fighters is not able to fulfill their tasks at all, or does it below its full potential,
– if one would like to determine the main reason of this situation, he ought to point repeated malfunctions of fighter’s electronic equipment, especially Head-up and Multi-functional Displays (due to lack of proper overhaul and repairs), which often go blank during flights, hence make it harder to fulfill mission objectives and expose pilots to danger of losing life,
– that, in turn, is a result of insufficient overhaul and technical maintenance, which should be fulfilled by Russian Rosobronexport and Irkut corporation, responsible for the sale and design/manufacturing of those fighters. What’s more surprising, despite many attempts, India was unable to exercise its right to technical and logistical support from Russians, which were part of the initial agreement, signed in the mid-90s,
– Su-30 insufficient operational readiness is just one on a long list of BVS’s problems with its inventory. It also includes: inadequate training programs for the pilots, lack of the necessary training equipment, bad technical condition of older jets (especially MiG-21 Bisons), lack of proper overhaul and maintenance, as well as delays in purchase of new equipment (BAE Hawk and PC-7 Pilatus trainers or Rafale multirole fighters),
– as a consequence of this negligence, in the past three years BVS has lost more than 40 jets, most of which were MiG-21’s, which must remain in service due to the lack of final agreement on the Rafale’s deal
– this in turn calls into questions the real combat potential of BVS, especially in not so hypothetical conflict with India’s main regional rivals: PRC and Pakistan,
– furthermore, lack of proper maintenance of Su-30 may delay introduction into force of Brahmos A cruise missiles, which are due to commissioning in 2015,
– last, but not least, by neglecting its obligations in terms of technical and logistical support, Russians may undermine their further steps in securing more arms deals with India. Especially that in the past Russia lost few prestigious tenders, in favor of American Boeing, which will supply India with new attack (AH-64E) and heavy-lift (CH-47F) helicopters.