India set to order 42 more Sukhoi jets
India is all set to order another 42 Sukhoi-30MKIs, to add to the 230 such ‘‘air dominance’’ fighter jets already contracted from Russia, at a cost of Rs 20,107 crore. Defence minister A K Antony said the 42 new multi-role Sukhois, which will be built at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, are slated for delivery during 2014-2018. With both China and Pakistan bolstering their air combat fleets, IAF had asked for the additional 42 Sukhois in order to be prepared for any contingency on both the eastern and western fronts. Having inducted over 110 of the 230 original Sukhois, contracted from Russia in three deals worth upwards of $8.5 billion, IAF has already begun to base these jets in the North-East in a clear move to counter China’s rapid modernisation of its armed forces.Incidentally, HAL has been directed to complete the manufacture of 140 of these 230 Sukhois under transfer of technology by 2015 at all costs. IAF’s combat capability will revolve around the Sukhois, the most potent fourth-generation fighters in its inventory at present, for the foreseeable future. After Pune and Bareilly, IAF has already earmarked airbases like Tezpur and Chabua in Assam, Halwara (Punjab) and Jodhpur (Rajasthan) as the new airbases to house two Sukhoi squadrons each. The first lot of the 126 multi-role combat aircraft to be procured under the mammoth $10.4-billion project — IAF has now submitted its technical evaluation report of the six foreign fighters in contention — will begin to touch down in India only by 2013-2014 at the earliest.