India and Russia have signed two long-term support agreements for the Sukhoi Su-30MKI combat aircraft fleet, covering around 57,000 spares and components related to the aircraft.
The agreements were signed by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) with Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation and United Engine Corporation at the first India-Russia Military Industrial Conference held in New Delhi.
India has contracted 272 Su-30 fighter jets from Russia in various batches and has so far inducted over 230 jets. However, their serviceability rate has been an issue of constant concern. Over the last couple of years, the serviceability rates had dropped below 50% and at one point it had improved to over 60%.
- These pacts provides for an upgraded schedule for delivery of spares from Russia for Su-30MKI, local manufacturing of parts and a proposed logistics hub for the fighter jets in Bengaluru (Karnataka) by HAL.
- Pacts were also signed for maintenance and life-cycle support for other Russian-origin platforms, such as MiG-29K aircraft, Mi-17 helicopters, INS Vikramaditya and T-90 tanks.
- They will address a long-lasting concern of India with respect to Russian-origin military equipment and also address issues of life-cycle support and maintenance.
Need for such Agreements
India has the third largest armed forces in the world and one of the largest importers of defence equipment. Since most of India’s defence platforms and weapon systems are of Russian-origin, their maintenance and life-cycle support is extremely important from the point of view of our defence preparedness.
The deal follows a Russian legislation permitting its companies to enter into direct agreement with foreign companies for long-term support agreements. Currently, procurement of spares is a long and cumbersome process as India cannot deal directly with the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) but has to deal with designated intermediaries. India is also exploring the possibility of Russian OEMs allowing licence manufacture of the spares locally by Indian vendors under Make in India initiative