IAF Day: Su 30 MKI Mainstay of IAF
Su 30 MKI heavy combat multi role fighter is emerging as the mainstay of the Indian Air Force (IAF). IAF Chief, Air Chief Marshal Norman Browne in the traditional pre IAF Day media conference highlighted the seminal position that SU 30 MKI will hold in the IAF inventory in the future. The total fleet of Su 30 MKI in the IAF will be 270 which will be concentrated in the 13 to 14 squadrons of the IAF. Presently Security-risks.com estimates 10 squadrons of Su 30 MKI.
Two more are being raised in Punjab and North East each. "By the end of this year, in December and early next year, we will be inducting a new Su-30 squadron, based in Punjab. That will be the 10th squadron of Su-30s and the process will continue for at least six months - from January to June," Browne said in a media conference widely quoted in Indian reports. "We are raising three to four more squadrons of Sukhoi. Two extra squadrons are being raised in the eastern sector. So far, we have raised two squadrons there and two more are in the process," he said. "One more squadron will be based in Punjab and one will be in Thanjavur. Therefore, we will eventually have 13 to 14 squadrons of Sukhois," he said. Of the 34 combat fighter squadrons of the IAF, 14 will be Su 30 MKI or a high 40 percent plus.
The recent induction of SU-30 MKI in Western Air Command is another seminal development. Su 30 MKI was inducted in a formal ceremony at Air Force Station Halwara on 25 Sep 12. While the first batch of SU-30 MKI was inducted into IAF in Sep 2002, the 220 Squadron at Halwara known as ‘Desert Tigers’, which flew the MiG-23 aircraft till 2005 is now resurrected with the latest SU-30 MKI Squadron. Halwara, due to its strategic location was actively involved in both 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars. Halwara has been home to Spitfires in early 1950s to being the hub of Mig-23 operations till 2009. It was later chosen to base the first SU-30 MKI Squadron in the Western Air Command in 2011.
As per information accessed in Wikipedia on 08 October, the squadrons are located, “in Bareilly Airport,Lohegaon Air Base Pune, Jodhpur, Tezpur Air Force Station, Assam & Chabua Air Force Station, Assam, Halwara Air Base,Punjab”. The information has not been independently verified.
The process to set up a new 15 Squadron in Punjab named Flying Lancers will be started in December 2012 and the squadron will be operational by the middle of 2012 as per the media covering the IAF Chief’s Conference. The Eastern sector is set to be Su 30 MKI heavy with four squadrons to be located there eventually while two MMRCA squadrons are also planned to be eventually located in the East.
While technically designated as an air defence fighter, the armament identified includes the joint Indo Russian BrahMos cruise missile, cluster and laser guided missiles which indicates that the IAF may be using the SU 30 MKI in a multi role.