Why does the Indian Su-30MKI fighter cost twice as much as the Russian Su-30SM?

Despite the Su-30MKI program’s success, some critics notice the relatively high cost of these fighters.

Contentious issues
Since entering service with the Indian Airforce in 2002, the Su-30MKI has become the Indian Air Force’s heaviest and most proficient fighter (IAF). Today, this aircraft model serves as the “backbone” of one of South Asia’s most potent air forces.

Su-30 fighters entered IAF service at a rather rapid pace, with 50 entering service since the beginning of 2005 to replace older generation aircraft such as the MiG-23, MiG-27, and several MiG-21 versions. It depicts a distinct variant on the original Su-30 design.

Despite the Su-30MKI program’s success, some observers have noted the unusually high cost of these fighters. When compared to other Su-30 variations, such as the Chinese-deployed Su-30MKK or even the modern Russian Su-30SM model, the Su-30MKI is extraordinarily expensive, costing nearly twice as much.

Although the Su-30MKI programme is far less contentious than the Indian Ministry of Defense’s choice to purchase Rafale Medium weight fighters from France, the Su-30MKI’s exorbitant cost raises several problems.

What is the explanation for this?
The cost of the Su-30MKI is more than that of other Su-30 variants since the production scale is substantially lower, and the production line in India is evaluated. is less efficient than Russia’s production lines for the Su-30MKK and Su-30SM.

Mr. Subhash Bhamre, the Indian Defense Minister at the time, stated that the agreement to licence Russian Su-30MKI manufacture to India included a technology transfer price. This will boost the Indian defence sector in the long run, but it will be more expensive than purchasing planes entirely from Russia.

Another issue is that the Indian Ministry of Defense has attempted to combine technology from many countries into its fighters, and the new systems are exceedingly costly. These include France’s MICA, the United Kingdom’s ASRAAM, Israeli GPS-guided bombs and electronics, and India’s Astra and BrahMos missiles. In many cases, these devices are less structurally and functionally advanced than those used on the Su-30SM or Su-35, but they have a considerable impact on the cost of each fighter’s equipment.

The exorbitant expense of the Su-30MKI in comparison to all other Su-30 variants (including the much more advanced Su-30SM) has prompted several criticisms. The Su-30MKI’s cost-effectiveness in comparison to Western fighter planes such as the Rafale was hotly questioned in the Indian Parliament.

In 2020, it was reported that India was considering purchasing the next generation of Russian fighter, the Su-57, but controversy erupted in this South Asian country about whether the hefty cost of the Su-30MKI is worth it. potential to sway the New Delhi government’s choice on whether to buy the entire aircraft from Russia or continue to buy the licence to assemble the aircraft in India

The production licence could be more effective if India produces the Su-30 in accordance with Russian specifications, as it does with the MiG-27 fighter jets it licences, or as China did with the Su-27 and North Korea with the MiG-29.

Although the Su-30 is also problematic due to its low combat readiness rate, experts believe the problem is with the Indian Air Force rather than the aircraft. Many other countries’ aircraft, as well as their equipment, are experiencing the same issue. Meanwhile, the Su-30 variant used by China or Algeria has a far greater percentage of readiness.

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