Even as India is working to tighten its defence ties with the US, New Delhi is also making efforts to kickstart the stalled mega project with Russia to jointly develop a fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) and upgrade its Sukhoi- 30MKI fleet into 'Super Sukhois'.
According to a report in The Times of India, the defence ministry is working to seal the final R&D design contract with Russia for developing FGFA suited to India's needs. The new aircraft will be a variant of the Russian single-seat FGFA called Sukhoi T-50 or PAK-FA.
The total cost for producing 127 FGFA in India will be about $25 billion, the report said.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar has also set his eyes on ensuring that the "maximum operationally availability" of the existing fighters goes up dramatically given the severe crunch in combat power faced by the Indian Air Force currently.
The plan includes an upgrade for the existing fleet of Sukhois into 'Super Sukhois' – with advanced radars and long-range stand-off missiles.
Meanwhile, India is close to finalising a €7.8-billion deal with France for 36 Rafale jets.
Over the years, the long delay in the acquisition process has left the IAF with only 33 fighter squadrons - including 11 obsolete MiG-21 and MiG-27 squadrons – as against a minimum requirement of 42 such formations.