Government-owned defence manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has proposed that the Indian Air Force (IAF) place an order for more Su-30MKI squadrons to boost fleet strength, reports The Economic Times.
An additional four squadrons would amount to 72 more aircraft. Currently, HAL has been contracted to supply 272 Su-30MKI fighters.
For its part, the IAF is lukewarm to the idea of procuring additional fighters due its budgetary constraints. HAL remains optimistic that it may receive a minimum order of 10 additional aircraft this year to be able to ensure that production at its Nasik does not go idle.
“If we are looking at a strength of 42 squadrons for the air force, the fastest means of getting it is to go for more Light Combat Aircraft and the Su-30MKI jets. We are currently making 12 of the fighters per year at the Nasik plant,” said HAL chairman R Madhavan.
The proposal currently remains under consideration at the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Madhava explained that the quickest way to keep up squadron strength of the IAF was to produce more of these additional aircraft indigenously.
The air force faces high rates of attrition of its Mig 21 and Jaguar aircraft which have been in service for a very long time.