India clears purchase of 33 Russian combat jets worth $2.4 billion

Published July 2, 2020
A Russian Air Force MiG-29UB. — Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
A Russian Air Force MiG-29UB. — Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

India's government on Thursday approved the purchase of 33 Russian fighter jets and upgrades to another 59 planes, acting to beef up its air force at a time when the military is locked in a border stand-off with China.

The approval for 21 MiG-29 planes and a dozen Su-30 jets will together cost 181.48 billion rupees ($2.43 billion), the defence ministry said.

The purchase, along with the upgrade of 59 other MiG-29s, was an attempt to address the “long-felt need of the Air Force to increase its fighter squadrons”, it added.

Tensions between India and China are at their highest in years following a clash last month in a disputed stretch of the border in the western Himalayas in which India lost 20 soldiers.

The two countries, which fought a brief border war in 1962, have since the recent clash moved additional forces and military equipment into key sections of the 3,488-kilometre Line of Actual Control — the ceasefire line separating the two forces.

The green light for the Russian planes followed a visit to Moscow last month by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh where he urged his hosts to speed up deliveries, officials said.

More than half of India's military hardware is still of Russian origin even though over the last decade India has turned to the United States and Israel for high-tech arms transfers. Major arms manufacturers are wooing the country as it replaces obsolete Soviet-era weapons.

The Defence Ministry also approved the purchase of air-to-air missiles developed indigenously that it said will add to the strike capability of the air force.

Rahul Bedi, a defence analyst, said the acquisition of the Russian aircraft will boost the air force's depleted fighter squadron numbers, which have dropped from an approved total of 42 to 28. One squadron comprises 18 aircraft.

He said the 21 MiG-29s will be second-hand planes that will be updated in Russia, while the 12 Su-30MKIs will be built under licence by India's state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.

Opinion

Women and autism
16 Apr 2021

Women and autism

Different assessment tools are needed to define and measure the subtle ways in which autistic women cope with the world around
Beyond the ban
Updated 16 Apr 2021

Beyond the ban

Formal bans do not translate into substantial dents.

Editorial

Ban is no answer
Updated 16 Apr 2021

Ban is no answer

The ban will not dilute the narrative that fuels the party, it may even fan it.
16 Apr 2021

Slow recovery

THE pace of growth in large-scale manufacturing output continues to slow down, with LSM production contracting by...
16 Apr 2021

Ramazan profiteering

WITH the month of Ramazan underway, people have begun to feel the effects of galloping inflation even more. Prices...
Afghanistan exit
Updated 15 Apr 2021

Afghanistan exit

Afghanistan has suffered for decades as powerful local players have refused to compromise and have insisted on hogging power.
15 Apr 2021

New census

EARLIER this week, the Council of Common Interests approved the controversial National Population and Housing ...
15 Apr 2021

With no place to go

No matter where one looks, one can’t escape the heartrending sight of scores of children of all ages begging, ...