The 4th Generation air superiority fighter of the Indian Air Force is the Sukhoi-30MKI. It is India’s first line of defence against adversarial land, sea and aerial onslaughts. In the hands of capable and well-trained pilots, it can perform manoeuvres considered tough for its Western Counterparts. Apart from the Russian Federation and the Republic of India, it is also used by the People’s Republic of China.
However, nothing in the world is perfect. Russian Sukhoi fighters are highly vulnerable to Anti-aerial elements. In the Russia-Ukraine War (2022), many Russian jets became targets and prey to surface-to-air missiles and air-to-air combat (dogfighting). Few of them have been destroyed on the runway itself.
China operates only a few Russian-made fighters. Its defence industry is much higher and more robust than that of India. Its air force is dominated by indigenous fighter planes. This is an alarming wake-up call for India. Significantly, India has to upgrade its fleet of Sukhoi jets in case of a war with China. The Sukhoi fighters constitute the backbone of The Indian Air Force, and without them, the IAF will be significantly weakened.
Therefore, the Indian Airforce is taking specific steps to avoid such a disastrous situation and meeting a similar fate to Russian aircraft. In October 2022, 84 of these jets will be upgraded in the next five years. India will induct state-of-the-art infrared and tracking systems. New radars will be installed on the Heads-Up Display in the cockpit.
In general, India will try to modernize its Su-30MKI fighter jets with indigenously produced technologies. But modernization is a must, and that view is prevalent among current Air Force chiefs and retired generals.
New Delhi can synchronize with Moscow on modernization. i.e., Russia has already started the modernization of its fighter jets to a higher level, and officers suggest that India should do it together with Russia. This will save not only time but also money.