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Aero India 2023

Su-30MKI: The frontline of the IAF

Su-30MKI of the Indian Air Force.

By Suman Chowdhury

Su-30MKI at a glance

The SU-30MKI multi-role fighter is a two-seat highly-manoeuvrable aircraft designed for air-superiority and for strikes on ground and naval targets. These aircraft have significantly enhanced the combat capabilities of the Indian Air Force.

Su-30MKI is a tailor-made aircraft for Indian specifications. It has an "international" avionics portfolio, including sub-systems and units made by 14 foreign firms from 6 countries. The aircraft features state of the art avionics developed by Russia, India and Israel which includes display, navigation, targeting and electronic warfare systems. Other key avionics used in the aircraft were sourced from France and South Africa.

The Su-30MKI avionics suite features have a number of advanced components, including integrated radar sighting system capable of detecting and tracking up to 15 air targets, while simultaneously attacking four of them, optronic sighting–and-navigation system with laser gyro navigator. The aircraft is provided with an ECCM facility intended to subvert hostile electronic and electro-optical countermeasures and etc. The superiority of the Su-30MKI’s radar in terms of target detection range, scanning sectors and jamming immunity makes it highly effective in long-range air combat.

The aircraft also features helmet-mounted displays, head-up-display, multifunction colour LCDs with image mixing capability including hi-tech GPS system (GLONASS/NAVSTAR compatible).

Engines with thrust-vectoring nozzles enable the Su-30MKI to perform such manoeuvres as "cobra", "vertical reverse", "roll in bell", "turn in cobra", etc. In these manoeuvres, the angle of attack can reach 180 degree. The Su-30 MKI’s super manoeuvreability gives it 30% superiority over its competitors in close air combat. This super manoeuvreability can be effectively used in combat.

The fighter aircraft has a co-pilot to improve the crew’s performance, weapon employment efficiency and blend perfectly for group missions.

Indian Contribution to Su-30 MKI

The Su-30MKI contains advanced avionics which were developed by DRDO under a project code named "Vetrivale" in close collaboration with the PSUs and the Indian Air Force.

The following are the significant components developed from the Indian side:

Mission Computer cum Display Processor - MC-486 and DP-30MK (Defence Avionics Research Establishment - DARE)
Radar Computer - RC1 and RC2 (DARE)
Tarang Mk2 Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) + High Accuracy Direction Finding Module (HADF) (DARE)
IFF-1410A - Identification Friend or Foe (IFF)
Integrated Communication suite INCOM 1210A (HAL)
Radar Altimeter - RAM-1701 (HAL)
Programmable Signal Processor (PSP) - (LRDE)
Multi Function Displays (MFD) - Samtel/DARE

The other DARE-developed product, the Tarang Mk2 (Tranquil) radar warning receiver, is manufactured by state-owned BEL at its Bangalore facility. It alerts the pilot to all surrounding "threats" such as radar-controlled guns and missiles for initiating evasive action or counter-measures.

DRDO also brought into the limelight a new design of the Core Avionics Computer (CAC) which is basically made for the Su-30MKI aircraft but with a single module adaptation can be used across many other aircraft platforms.

The Su-30MKI equipped with a phased array radar and an engine with thrust vector control is currently the only aircraft of this level in the world.

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