NEW DELHI, India, (BulgarianMilitary.com) – Local media, citing a source in the military technical cooperation, reported that India started formal talks with Russia over a purchase of at least 21 MiG-29 fighter jets in order to bolster its ageing fleet, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
The unused Soviet-era aircraft currently sitting unassembled since the 1980s, will be shipped to India for reassembly and to be upgraded with the latest weapons and avionics to meet Indian Air Force requirements. Referring to a government sources, the Economic Times said the deal would worth near $848 million. And according to a source, cited by the news portal Print, the price offered by Russia is reasonable and he adds that, in January, a team from India visited Russia to inspect and discuss the airframes of the warehoused, with finding them to be in good condition.
The upgrade program for the 21 aircraft that the contract envisions includes new engines, the latest avionics and weapons packages, which, in particular, are smart air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions, converting the jet from an air-superiority fighter into all-weather multi-role warplane.
At the same time, the fighters’ 25 years (2,500 flight hours) operational life will be extended to 40 years (3,500 hours), which will help ease the wear and tear on the IAF’s dwindling supply of combat-ready fighters.
Currently, three squadrons of the twin-engine single-seat fighters MiG-29 are operational with the Indian Air Force. A similar upgrade program was signed in March 2008 between India and Russia for the modernization of 62 MiG-29 fighters.
The upgraded MiG-29s of India’s Air Force are analogues of Russian MiG-29SMT revisions, with improved use of air-to-air and air-to-ground high-precision weapons and increased combat range, due to an increase in its internal fuel capacity, as well as enhanced multi-role capability.
The armament of the aircraft includes air-to-surface precision-guided munitions, such as the anti-ship active radar-homing missiles Kh-31A, general-purpose TV-homing missiles Kh-29T, KAB-500Kr TV-homing smart bombs, Kh-31P anti-radiation missiles etc. It also has Vympel RVV-AE (R-77) air-to-air active radar homing missiles.
The current IAF’s fleet consists of different Russian and Soviet-era aircraft, some UK/France SEPECAT Jaguar and French Dassault Mirages warplanes. According to a parliamentary panel on defence, a squadron strength of 42 fighter jets (18-20 in a squadron) would be needed to fight a two-front war with China and Pakistan. The present scenario, however, shows that even the ordered 36 Rafale jets, six squadrons of Tejas, including the Tejas Mark 1A and two more squadrons of Su30 MKI to be taken into account, the strength of the squadron will be below 30, even by 2032.
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Sources: Sputnik News, RT