Russia's leading jet engine maker Ufa Engine Manufacturing Association said that it will deliver the first 10 of 920 engines for the Sukhoi Su-30MKI Flanker-H fighter jets to India before the end of March, Russian news agency Ria Novosti reported yesterday.
The contract for the largest supply of jet engines to a foreign country during post-Soviet era was signed earlier in October. The deliveries are scheduled to be completed by 2022.
The Ufa Engine is Russia's largest aircraft engine manufacturer. The company, located in Ufa in the republic of Bashkortostan, about 1,170 km southeast of Moscow, produces engines for Sukhoi and MiG family fighter jets, engine parts as well as automobile engines, gas pumps and turbines and also provides maintenance and support services.
The Su-30MKIs are multi-role air superiority fighters manufactured in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for the Indian Air Force (IAF) under licence from Russian fighter maker Sukhoi.
A 2000 agreement executed between India and Russia envisaged manufacturing 140 Su-30MKI aircraft and AL31FP engines with an option for India to buy an additional number of engines. In 2007, the IAF ordered 40 more Su-30MKIs.
The aircraft is being tailor-made to Indian specifications and integrates Indian as well as French and Israeli systems and avionics, and possess capabilities similar to advanced Sukhoi Su-35 fighters.
In December, during Russian president Vladimir Putin's visit to India, the contract was further increased by 42, bringing the total fighter aircraft orders to 222. (See: India signs $4-bn defence deal with Russia)
As of January 2013, India had 157 Su-30MKI fighters in service and it plans to increase the fleet to 272.
In a major embarrassment to the IAF last month, a Su-MKI crashed over Jaisalmer in Rajasthan during a night flying training mission. Both the pilots ejected safely and there was no damage to any civil property or life on ground. A court of inquiry was ordered to investigate into the accident.
This was the fourth crash involving Su-30MKI in the last four years, raising some concerns over the safety of the fleet.
Separately, India is in the final stage of negotiations with France's Dassault Aviation SA over a $10-billion deal for 126 Rafale fighter jets to supplement its needs. (See: HAL getting set to assemble Rafale fighter jets)