India and Russia are negotiating a new contract on the delivery of 42 Su-30MKI to the Indian Air Force, an Indian newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing military sources.
According to the Daily News and Analysis newspaper, the new deal, which is reportedly worth more than $3 billion, has been in the works for several months.
The new air-superiority fighters will come on top of the 230 already contracted from Russia in three deals worth a total of $8.5 billion.
"The [new] order is being placed due to the insufficient number of fighter squadrons in the Indian Air Force and would allow us to eliminate potential threats," a source in the Indian Defense Ministry told RIA Novosti.
India originally ordered 50 Su-30MKI aircraft from Russia in 1996-98 and an additional 40 planes in 2007. Hindustani Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was also contracted to build 140 aircraft in India between 2003 and 2017 under a licensed production agreement.
The Indian Air Force currently has about 100 Su-30MKIs, mainly deployed at airbases close to the borders with China and Pakistan.
Analysts believe that India will remain the main purchaser of Russian-made combat aircraft for the next 15 years under existing and future contracts, as the country desperately needs to upgrade its fighter fleet, which includes Su-30MKI and MiG-29 fighters, but mainly consists of obsolete Soviet MiG-21 models.
NEW DELHI, March 2 (RIA Novosti)