NEW DELHI, July 8 (RIA Novosti) - India is satisfied with the performance of Russian Su-30MKI fighters, despite a crash in April, and plans to double the number in service with the air force by 2015, the defense minister said on Wednesday.
The Indian Air Force originally ordered 50 SU-30MKI aircraft from Russia in 1996-98 and an additional 40 planes in 2007. Hindustani Aeronautics (HAL) was also contracted to build 140 aircraft in India between 2003 and 2017 under a licensed production agreement.
"We have purchased 98 Su-30MKI combat jets since 1996. By 2015, we are planning to increase their number to 230," A. K. Antony told the upper house of the Indian parliament.
"The Indian Air Force is happy with the aircraft and we believe it is one of the best in the world," he added.
Antony said the investigation into the cause of the April 30 crash of an Indian Air Force Su-30MKI was still underway.
The plane crashed during a routine training flight near a village 170km from the town of Jaisalmer in the northeastern state of Rajasthan, killing one of its two pilots.
The incident was the first since the Su-30MKI was put into service with the Indian Air Force in 2002.
Russia sent in May a group of 20 experts to examine the wreckage of the plane and help the Indian Air Force with the investigation.