Su 30 MKI – The Backbone Of Indian Air Force

Sukhoi Su-30 MKI is the most advanced fighter jet in the IAF inventory and will remain the backbone of the IAF for the next 2 decades. India ordered around 272 Sukhoi 30 MKI from Russia, which are manufactured under license by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Recently, India also ordered 36 Dassault Rafale from France under a Government To Government Deal but the experience Indian Pilots have gained in operating the Sukhoi’s and the shear number of Su 30 in IAF inventory makes them the most important fighter for the IAF.

About Su 30 MKI

Sukhoi Su-30 also known as Flanker aircraft, is a twin engine multirole supermaneuverable air superiority fighter aircraft developed by Russia’s Sukhoi and are manufactured in India under license by HAL. Th aircraft is tailor made as per Indian specifications integrating various sub systems and avionics from India, Israel & France. It falls in the category of heavy, all weather, long range fighter jets.

Su-30 started as a developmental project in the Su-27 family at Sukhoi and the design was revamped by Sukhoi. The Su-30 is manufactured by two organisations under Sukhoi group’s unmbrella : KnAAPO & Irkut Corporation. When India showed interest in the Su-30, Irkut offered the multirole Su-30 MKI, a modified version of Su-27 UB with better avionics.

Su-30 MKI have been troubled with non availability of spare parts & the operational availability dropped considerably. The Indian Defence Ministry is trying to ensure “Maximum Operationally Availability” of the existing fighters at any given time. The aim is to achieve upto 75% Operationally Availability.

Sukhoi 30 (Su-30 MKI) Specifications

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 21.9 m
  • Wingspan: 14.7 m
  • Height: 6.36 m
  • Empty weight: 18,400 kg
  • Loaded weight: 26,090 kg 
  • Max. takeoff weight: 38,800 kg (85,600 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Lyulka AL-31 FP turbofans
  • Maximum speed:
    • At high altitude: Mach 2
    • At low altitude: Mach 1.09
  • Range:
    • At high altitude: 3,000 km
    • At low altitude: 1,270 km

Super Sukhoi

Even though the Su-30 MKI is one of the most advanced of the Generation 4+ fighters in service with the IAF, the need for its upgrade is becoming ever more obvious. Russia and India are negotiating on a deal for Su-30 MKI to be upgraded into Super Sukhoi Standards.

super sukhoi 30mki specifications
sukhoi su-30

Under Super Su-30 MKI Project upgrade program Su-30 MKI will be upgraded to SU-35+ standards which will be far superior to the SU-35 currently operated by Russian and  PLA Airforce. The Super Sukhoi will have a new modernized cockpit, improved avionics & active electronically scanned array radar with advanced Stealth Features. IAF is also integrating the Indo-Russian supersonic Brahmos Cruise Missile on Su 30MKI, which will make Su 30MKI one of the most dangerous fighter jet in the world.

The Su 30 have been deployed by India on both the Western and Eastern borders to counter Pakistan & China. If everything goes as per the plan then India may start receiving the upgraded Su-30 MKI by 2020.

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Different Major Variants Of  Sukhoi Su-30 Family


A modernized version of Su-27 UB and are operated by Russian Air Force.


This was a export version of the basic Su-30


This version was jointly co developed with HAL for IAF.It had the Thrust Vectoring Control and canards. It was equipped with avionics from Israel & France.


This was a derivative of the indian Su-30 MKI designed and developed for the Malaysian Air Force.


This was a derivative of the Su-30 MKI and MKM variants operated by the Russian Air Force.


This was a export variant developed for the PLA (Chinese) Air Force.

Future Of Su-30 & Indian Procurement System

The original Su-30MKI procurement program was executed at a lightening speed. The upgrade program, however, has suffered long delays. The estimated cost of the program is $7-8 billion. It is clear that the program is still at very early stage with the technical specifications yet to be finalized. India would also prefer to include local suppliers as part of “Make In India” to improve the spare parts availability. No matter how and when the upgrade program of Su-30 MKI starts, Su-30 MKI will remain the main working horse of the IAF for the years to come.

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