NEW DELHI ($1=81.64 Indian Rupees) — Over 270 Sukhoi Su-30MKI combat aircraft from the inventory of the Indian Air Force will be equipped with AESA radar. Such are the plans of the Indian Ministry of Defense. An active electronically scanned array [AESA] radar is already under development in India. India’s state-run Defense Research and Development Organization [DRDO] has taken up the development.
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According to Indian sources, the new radar will be ready in 2024. Then the first flight tests of Su-30MKI with Indian AESA radar are planned. 2026 is the deadline set by the Indian Ministry of Defense for the full operation of the new radar.
India has no tradition of developing such technologies. Many experts question the ability of the Indian defense industry to meet this challenge. But just as many experts appreciate the fact that if New Delhi succeeds, Moscow will lose billions of dollars.
The Su-30MKI is the backbone of India’s air combat capability. But India has invested heavily in the development of its indigenous Tejas fighter. An Indian AESA radar will allow New Delhi to improve the radar capabilities of its indigenously produced fighter jets. Perhaps this is why DRDO has decided that the future AESA radar will be based on the already existing Uttam radar.
Last but not least, the upgrade of India’s Su-30MKI will improve flight control. A positive effect will also be seen in the integration of hypersonic missiles in Indian fighter jets. The latter project, however, depends on Moscow, as the two countries work together to develop and upgrade the BrahMos missile.
The new Indian radar will be an alternative to the Russian Irbis-E and N036 Belka. The first is integrated into the Su-35, and the second is into the Su-57. It is said that the second radar is AESA and the first Russian-made. The basis of its development is Irbis-E. Russia’s limited resources are also currently influencing India’s decision. The war in Ukraine is pushing Russia to focus not on new developments, but on manufacturing old technologies on an assembly line.
However, if India manages to produce a relatively stable AESA radar, the Su-30MKI will establish itself as one of the best fighter jets in South Asia. In truth, the Su-30MKI is one of the best-quality variants of the Su-30. When it was introduced in 2002, it was the most powerful operational fighter in this part of the globe. Later, however, China stepped in and began not only to upgrade old fighters to a higher generation but also to produce its own fifth-generation fighters. Thus, the Su-30MKI was superseded by Chinese fighter jets, and India lagged behind in updating the aircraft.
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