Su-57: India returns to buying Russian fighter jet

Aero India 2021 international exhibition was held in Bangalore, India, where 14 countries will present their weapons to picky customers from New Delhi. Among them will be Russia, which will account for more than 200 weapons out of 601 declared to participate. Undoubtedly, special attention will be drawn to the export version of our fifth-generation Su 57 E fighter.

India’s increased interest in the most modern foreign weapons is due to its dangerous proximity to Pakistan and its support China. New Delhi is happy to acquire weapons, while adhering to the principles of diversification of suppliers, so as not to depend on one person, as well as the gradual localization of their production at home. A striking example is the joint project of licensed production of the Russian T-90S tank.

Our country is a long-standing partner for India, which highly values Russian weapons for high quality at a relatively low price. In Bangalore we brought to the show S-400 Triumph and Viking, armored personnel carrier K-16 and BMP K-17, helicopters Ka-52 and Ka-31, promising multirole light helicopter Ka-226T, as well as Mi-28NE, Mi-171Sh and Mi-17V-5. The aircraft will include domestic MiG-35D and Su-35 fighter jets, an export version of the Il-76MD-90A (E) military transport aircraft and il-78MK-90A refuelling aircraft. Also, Hindus will look with great interest at the Russian fifth-generation Su 57 E fighter.

su 57

Su 57 is Russia’s most deadly fighter jet

Rostec is well counting on deepening cooperation with New Delhi in the field of combat aviation. With a dangerous neighbour such as Pakistan and a long-standing territorial problem with the State of Kashmir, India is in dire need of the ability to dominate the airspace. Soviet MiG-21 Hindus began to buy back in 1962, and in 1967 began their own production. In general, this determined the general vector of development of the military aviation industry there.

Almost 80% of the Indian Air Force fleet is represented by Soviet and Russian-made aircraft. There are also 50 French multirole Mirage 2000 (H/TH) and a hundred French-British Jaguar fighter-bombers. Of today’s worth mentioning Rafale fighter jets, the contract for the purchase of which is worth 7.87 billion euros New Delhi signed with Paris a few years ago. This is the diversification of suppliers.

However, it should be mentioned that the French Rafale costs the Indians 218 million dollars each, and the Russian Su-30MKI generation of 4th local assembly – 83million. The latter is a product of joint cooperation, when India has received a multifunctional fighter under its requirements and assembles aircraft on its territory. Why did New Delhi suddenly start to turn its nose off Russian planes? Detractors will say that because of their lack of quality, but it seems that on the Indian side it is rather a marketing move aimed at knocking out the best conditions for themselves.

Thus, specialized military publications of India note that the purchase from Russia of 110 MiG-35 and 114 Su-35 fighters may be related to the condition for the transfer of technology and localization of production by the customer. Also available in the Indian Air Force 222 Su-30MKI fighters can be upgraded under the “Super Sukhoi” variant.
And we’re going back to the export version of the Su 57.

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It should have been a joint Russian-Indian fighter of the fifth generation OF FGFA. However, New Delhi came out of this project, and our country had to bring it to mind on its own. Allegedly discerning Hindus were not satisfied with insufficient characteristics of the plane, which is happy to repeat on all frets our detractors. Indeed, the Su 57 had its own “children’s diseases” that needed to be identified and eliminated. However, the Indian daily newspaper The Economic Times, citing its sources, explained this decision with very different motives.

The Organization for Defense Research and Development of India (DRDO) was primarily interested in the technology of fifth-generation fighters for their self-production. In New Delhi at the time, it was considered that they were either already in place or were in the final stages of development. That is, the problem was not the low quality of Su 57 Russian fighters of the fifth generation, but rather the rights of intellectual property.

It is possible that on their own to make a combat aircraft of this level for India was a somewhat more difficult task than originally thought. Recently, Indian Air Force Air Force Air Marshal Birender Singh Dkhanova spoke about the terms of the acquisition of the Su 57 from Russia:

When it is already put into service to you – only then we will be able to make a decision for ourselves. We are ready to consider it for acquisition after we see it in the case, and it will be provided to us for consideration – to conduct an assessment.

That is, the Hindus did not put a cross on the project at all, but only temporarily removed from it, allowing Moscow at its own expense to eliminate all its “children’s diseases.” Cynical, but quite practical. And now New Delhi has asked to bring an export version of the Russian fifth generation fighter to him for “watching”. For its part, our country is clearly ready for more flexible cooperation with a picky partner. Andrey Yelchaninov, first deputy chairman of the Russian Military Industrial Commission, said last year:

Various delivery options are being considered: separately an aircraft and an aircraft with a full range of weapons, with a system of after-sales service. In addition, at the request of the customer, the appearance of the aircraft can be refined. So we are talking with confidence about the export prospects of the Su 57.

It is quite possible that Rostec has already matured to the transfer of technology and localization of the production of Su 57 E in India, and this fighter has a brighter prospects than is seen by our enemies.

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