At the outset the author wishes to state that all the information collated and provided in this report is available in the Public Domain and does not compromise on our national security in any way whatsoever

The Sukhoi-30 MKI is a twin engine, twin-seater multirole super manoeuvrable fighter aircraft, tailor made especially for the needs of the Indian Air Force. The customisation of the Indian fighter makes it costlier than the Russian & Chinese variants. The Aircraft comes with a package of Indian systems and avionics and the French and Israeli sub-systems. It is the front-line aircraft of the Indian Air force. This aircraft remains the backbone of the Indian Air Force.

But strictly speaking, this aircraft is a marvel when it manoeuvres in the skies. The Indian SU-30 MKI has additional thrust vectoring ability provided to its engines and yet it has not much but a few drawbacks some of which can be handled if not completely be rectified. Who hasn't seen the astonishing and famed Pugachev's Cobra manoeuvre of this amazing fighter.

The SU-30MKI is powered by the Saturn/Lyulka- AL31FP twin engines.

Every fighter jet has some pros and cons. Even the world's most advanced fighter, F-22, doesn't feature Helmet Mounted Display & Sight (HMDS). So Su-30MKI too feature some flaws. I have some information on flaws of Su-30MKI. Before I start, let me clarify that I am not playing with national security, every info is available in public domain.

Problems With Su-30MKI

01. Lack of Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS)

As the name suggests, MAWS detect the incoming missiles and alerts the pilot about the the threat. Also, it detects the type of missile, which helps in dispensing appropriate countermeasures while performing the defensive manoeuvres. Without MAWS, Su-30MKI need to rely on jammers, Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), Early Warning (EW) control systems for survival against incoming missiles. But MAWS is necessary as it allows detection of missiles and their direction so that appropriate manoeuvres can be performed and countermeasures can be released in time. MAWS is also most effective heat seeker missiles, that does not use radar for guidance. The Sukhoi's is said to have evaded all the American made BVR missile fired by PAF's F-16 jets during the aerial skirmishes that happened a day after the 2019 Balakot airstrikes by the IAF.

PAF'S F-16 and JF-17 are equipped with MAWS.

02. High Band Jammer Issues

Notice the wingtips of the Su-30MKI, can you see those two cylindrical things protruding out? It is a Made-in-Russia high band jammer called SAP-518, and capable of jamming radar guided missiles and other RF equipment. Su-30MKI is rarely spotted with this jammer and there are some serious problems with it.

First is that it is very heavy and restricts the aircraft to carry other vital stores.

Second is the software issues while cueing it with Tarang Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) that is an indigenous system.

Another HBJ in service with Su-30MKI is Elta 8222. With Israeli origin, this jammer also brings some integration issues. Sometimes, it tries to jam friendly aircraft systems too.

Defence Avionics & Research Establishment (DARE) is developing an indigenous High Band Jammer (HBJ) and it will be in service very soon or may be already operational.

03. Engine Problems

Sukhoi Su-30MKI features AL-31FP engines with 3D Thrust Vector Control (TVC) ability. But the problem is it doesn't perform according to the official claims made by the manufacturer. Due to Indian climate, it faces various failures even in mid-air. Between 2014 to 2018, there were 34 cases in which the aircraft was forced to land with single engine due to mid-air failure. This is the reason why Super Sukhoi upgrade also focuses on engine replacement, in which AL-31 will be replaced by AL-41.

04. Spare Parts Management

Not only India, most of the countries face logistics issue while using Russian origin fighter aircrafts. It is due to the fact that after the Russian revolution, Russia faced a great economic depression and no more concentrated on power projection doctrine. Therefore, Mikoyan Gurevich (MiG) and Sukhoi don't receive major orders (of course, exceptions are Su-35 and Su-30), so they are financially weak. Sukhoi is little better than MiG because it has customers in modern time. Recently Myanmar started receiving Su-30SMs and Algeria ordered Su-35s, and also in talks to acquire Su-57. Also, Russia is going to induct 70+ Su-57s in future. On the other hand, Mikoyan Gurevich failed to impress any customer with it's latest MiG-35. And their only hope is India and it's Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) program. So overall, both companies are financially weak and cannot provide spare parts on time, leading to grounding of aircrafts and the result is only 60-65% of Su-30s are operational at any given moment. [50-55% is 2 years old report] This can be solved by agreeing to complete ToT with the Russians to produce critical components that is really hard to procure.

05. Weapon Integration Approval Problems

Not only Su-30, but every imported fighter jet of IAF face this problem. IAF needs approval of original manufacturer before integrating any new system in the platform. That is the reason why Meteor (MBDA denied) and ASRAAM (Sukhoi denied) integrations were blocked because you know, relation between NATO and Russia is not good.

Good thing is that recent test of MICA indicates that Indian Air Force may be managing to convince France to allow integration of MICA. Whether it's MICA RF or MICA IR. Both needs to be linked with mission computer through source codes. So the manufacturer has to provide the codes to the user that makes integration possible.

06. The RCS (Radar Cross Section) of The Aircraft

The SU-30MKI is a big aircraft, and has a considerably larger radar signature. This makes the aircraft sustained to limited battlefields. Wherein, modern new generation aircrafts are more featured on stealthy operations and electronic warfare, the SU-30MKI does little to cover it’s radar signature which is greater than 6 sq.m. (That was one of the big reasons the Mirage 2000 was used for the Balakot strikes).

Now the RCS of the aircraft can be brought down but that involves a lot of changes including the engine and radar. The Elta ELL-8222 self protection jamming pod carried by the SU30-MKI can fry the Seekers of incoming BVRs and AAM's.

In spite of these drawbacks, the aircraft when in air is a nightmare for any other enemy aircraft that has to face it.

The above are the 6 critical problems in Su-30MKI that I can mention. I removed the section of radio because it is present through whole IAF fleet. But very soon going to be fixed with the integration of SDRs. (Text Courtesy: Sourced from here)