India's fleet of Su-30 MKI Fighter Jets are finally undergoing the Super Sukhoi Upgrade Programme. The IAF would have almost 270 Sukhoi-30MKIs by 2017 and the IAF Headquarters plans all them to be upgraded to the near fifth generation level and the IAF has decided to name them as Super Sukhoi.
For a long time, the only thing we knew about the proposed Su-30MKI upgrades was the name of the program: Sukhoi Super 30. There was no information about the technical specifications, timeline or costs. Commentators often confuse Sukhoi Super 30 with another upgrade program that aims to integrate the Su-30MKI with the air-launched version of the BrahMos anti-ship cruise missile.
These are in fact two independent and unrelated projects. BrahMos will be installed on only 40-42 planes. The program has already reached a fairly advanced phase of flight-testing to ascertain mechanical compatibility of the BrahMos-A air-launched missile with a reinforced Su-30MKI airframe. Live Missile launches have already commenced. The Sukhoi Super 30 program, on the other hand, will be rolled out to the entire Indian fleet of Su-30MKI fighters; it has yet to begin in earnest, and up until recently, there was very little information about it in the public domain.
The estimated cost of the Super Sukhoi-30 program is $10-12 billion.
China's induction of the Su-35 Jet ::
Sukhoi's Su-35S is a 4++ generation aircraft that employs fifth generation technologies. It is superior to most fourth generation fighters that are currently being developed worldwide.
The Su-35S is armed with the newest types of air-to-air and air-to-surface guided missiles, including long-range types.
The core of the Su-35S armament is a new radar control system with a phased antenna array (Irbis-E). It features unique capabilities in terms of the target detection range.
There is a pressing need for speeding up the Su-30MKI program in order to restore the Indian Air Force’s technological superiority over the Chinese. Essentially, India needs to pull off the same trick it did in the mid-1990s, when it responded to China’s mass procurement of Su-27/30 fighters with the original Su-30MKI program. Two decades on, India needs to respond to China’s Su-35 and J-31 jets with the Sukhoi Super 30.
India's Super Sukhoi's ::
The Super Sukhoi's will be kitted with Russian Phazotron Zhuk-AE Active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars. The X band radar can track 30 aerial targets in the track-while-scan mode and engage six targets simultaneously in attack mode. AESA technology offers improved performance and reliability compared with traditional mechanically scanned array radars.
During MMRCA trials the Zhuk-AE AESA radar demonstrated significant capabilities, including ground-mapping modes and the ability to detect and track aerial targets. The upgrade will also involve equipping all jets with stand-off missiles with a range of 300 km.
In Super Sukhoi, the electronics will be upgraded heavily and the Super Sukhois will carry more weapon loads compared to the Su-35.
Super Sukhoi will have same engine as in FGFA. It will enhance the life cycle of SU-30MKIs. However, first aircraft will be upgraded in two years time.
Super Sukhoi's deep penetrating Brahmos Missile will make it the deadliest fighter jet on the planet after the F-22 Raptor and No. 1 in dogfight capabilities and maneuverability.
There are basic differences between Indian and Chinese SU-30s as the Power plants do not match. On other counts also the Indian Su-30 is far more superior than the Chinese SU-30s which compelled them to opt for the Su-35. But India has again maintained its Air Force's technological superiority by choosing to upgrade all of its 272 Su-30 MKI's to Super Sukhoi Standards than make them virtually 5th generation fighter jets.