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First home-built Sukhoi-30 MKI handed over to Air Force

By Arunkumar Bhatt

The Chairman of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, N.R. Mohanty (left), presenting a model of the Sukhoi 30 MKI to the Defence Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, at a function at the Ozahar airbase near Nasik on Sunday. — Photo: Vivek Bendre

NASIK, NOV. 28. The first home-built Sukhoi-30 MKI multi-role fighter aircraft was handed over to the Indian Air Force today. It took off from the air strip of the Nasik Division of its makers, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), and performed breath-taking aerobatics amidst cheers from the Defence Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy, and HAL Chairman, N.R. Mohanti.

Though assembled mainly from the Russian-supplied knocked-down kit, the Su-30 MKI is fitted with major Indian avionics such as mission computer, radar computer and radar warning system developed by the Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE).

Its communication system and Identify Friend or Foe (IFF) are from the HAL's Hyderabad Division. Mr. Mohanti told reporters later that HAL was to produce 140 Su-30 MKIs for the Indian Air Force in four phases. While the aircraft building during the first three phases would be primarily out of the Russian kits, the indigenous component would progressively increase and the fourth phase would be out of raw material.

Of the 140 aircraft114 would be built in the fourth phase. That would not only reduce the cost but also maximise production in various HAL plants. The peak production would be 12 aircraft a year and all the planes delivered by 2017-18.

The aircraft was inducted in June 1997. The Russians have so far delivered about 40 aircraft and the last batch of 10 is expected by December-end.Thus the Air Force will finally have 190 Su-30 MKI in its inventory. The twin-engined twin seater, Su-30 MKI can be operated as interceptor, bomber and trainer. With its all-weather day-and-night flying capabilities, the aircraft has very high manoeuvrability. It can attack from any angle and is not required to take a particular position to take on its target.

Codenamed Flanker by the NATO, the aircraft can attain a maximum speed of Mach 2 or twice the speed of sound. It can fly up to 3000 km without refuelling and this range could be raised to 5200 km with one mid-air refuelling and to 8400 km with another. It can take eight tons of weapons including air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles and Mid-Course Guided munitions.Sukhoi could also be armed with Brahmos missiles.

At a gathering of top officials of the HAL, the Air Force, the Navy and the Army and workers of the Nasik plant, Mr. Mukherjee warned the international communitythat according respectability to terrorism in any form would threaten peace and tranquillity in the post-cold war era.

The Defence Minister said that in its long history, India had never been an aggressor and it did not have any territorial ambition. But it could not allow any aggressor to threaten its integrity.

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