New Delhi: Defenc PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has made a bid for manufacturing four additional squadrons of the Su-30 MKI jets to strengthen the Indian Air Force which appears to be only keen on ordering replacements for aircraft that have been lost in accidents.
The proposal for manufacturing 72 more fighter jets to add to the current order for 272 was made by HAL but officials said that the air force has not been keen due to budgetary issues. HAL is hopeful that an order for at least 10 additional aircraft is placed this year so that its Sukhoi manufacturing plant in Nasik does not fall idle.
“If we are looking at a strength of 42 squadrons for the air force, the fastest means of getting it is to go for more Light Combat Aircraft and the Su-30 MKI jets. We are currently making 12 of the fighters per year at the Nasik plant,” HAL chairman R Madhavan said.
The company has shared cost breakups to manufacture one, two, three or four squadrons, leaving it for the air force to take a call on the numbers that it wants.
However, it seems that currently the air force is only looking at an order of 8-10 more of the jets to make up for accident losses.
“If the order does not come this year, there will be a two year gap before the line can be restarted as we have to order kits and other parts. The vendor base will be out of business and the ramp up after the gap will be both costly and time consuming,” Madhavan said.
“This is the fastest method to get more fighter jets. The attrition rate of the older MiG 21s and Jaguar jets is very high. Even if a contract is signed with a foreign manufacturer, it will take at least three years to get the first aircraft,” the HAL chief said, adding that the company is awaiting responses to its proposals from the air force and Ministry of Defence.