The IAF is in talks with Russia to procure Sukhoi jets in order to upgrade its existing fleet and also replace the jets that were lost over the last few years

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is in advance stages of talks with Russia to finalise a deal over the purchase of 12 Sukhoi jets as the Air Force looks to upgrade its force further, and also to replace the jets that crashed.

Replacement And Upgrade

The IAF is finalising procurement of 12 more Sukhois with Russia. Some will replace the ones lost in crashes, and will be built by defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics. Also, 21 additional MiG-29 jets which will cost around Rs 230 crore each. India now plans to upgrade its fleet of Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets with more advanced avionics, radars and weapons to further bolster their combat capabilities, with detailed talks currently underway with Russia for the mega project.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently visited Russia and there were multiple discussions on purchasing more jets. The Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale also added that India was looking to develop relations with Russia beyond just military cooperation. The two countries will be looking to develop relations culturally as well. The Prime Minister also said that relations should develop beyond just as a buyer and seller of military equipment and progress towards developing equipment together.

Last year, India and Russia had signed two pacts for long term maintenance and technical support for the Russian manufactured Sukhoi M-30 fighter jets. As per the contract, Russian firms had agreed to provide technical support and maintenance services and spares for the fleet for a period of five years. The pacts had been signed between the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and United Aircraft Corporation and the United Engine Corporation.

India Has Rights To Purchase With Freedom

Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar, while in the United States of America, defended India's right to purchase military equipment from Russia. India has had deals concerning military equipment with multiple countries, including Russia and USA, who are global powers in the defence manufacturing. Jaishankar said, "We have always maintained that what we buy — the sourcing of military equipment - is very much a sovereign right. We would not like any state to tell us what to buy or not to buy from Russia any more than we would like any state to tell us to buy or not buy from America. That freedom of choice is ours and we think it’s in everybody’s interest to recognise that."