"Hindi Rus ..."
On February 30, the authoritative military publication Jane's cited an uninteresting assessment of the fourth-generation Russian multi-role fighter SuMKI, voiced by retired Marshal of the Indian Air Force Daljita Singh. In short, the aircraft can no longer be considered advanced, and we are talking about key performance indicators.
In general, sharp estimates of fighters, including Russian ones, are far from rare. But the recent statement is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, such high-ranking (even if in the past) persons do not often openly talk about modern technology. Secondly, the Su-30MKI is a landmark car. Perhaps this is generally the most iconic Russian combat aircraft from among modern ones.
There are several reasons again. Since the market is modern combat aviation extremely narrow, then taking into account the 250 Su-30MKI delivered to India, the car can be called a "bestseller." If we talk about the relatively modern domestic combat vehicles of this class, then compare it, in general, with nothing. Take, for example, the Su-35 (not to be confused with the earlier Su-27M). Although initially it was seen as “export”, only 24 units were put directly for export. All cars went to China; Moreover, experts believe that the reason for the deal is not so much in the aviation complexes themselves as in the AL-41F1S engine, the technology of which the Chinese desperately wanted to get, although they did not show it in public.
The second reason is the direct role of the machine in the Russian Aerospace Forces. Recall that the "Russified" version of the machine is designated Su-30SM. Now the total number of such machines has exceeded one hundred, which makes this aircraft de facto the main means for Russia to gain air supremacy. Along with a slightly newer and more technologically advanced Su-35S, which so far are fewer. Although this year it seems to be planned to conclude a new contract for 50 new Su-35S.
Better than the new two?
In the case of India, it is still more interesting: the Su-30MKI was, is and will be the basis of the air force fleet of this country. Recall that India withdrew from the fifth-generation Russian-Indian fighter program based on the Su-57, previously known as the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). And the number of purchased French Dassault Rafale was reduced to 36 units: the "contract of the century" (MMRCA) ended, we can say ingloriously. The rest of the Indian Air Force fighters, to put it bluntly, are outdated and very strong. This applies to the MiG-29, and Mirage 2000, and MiG-21.
What do India think about their main fighter?
“Dry is certainly an excellent and powerful platform. In terms of combat load and flight range, it is of high value, but the reality is that the program was originally launched in 1997, and since then there have been numerous technological advances that require updating for the aircraft. "
- said the aforementioned Marshal of the Indian Air Force Daljit Singh.
The military believes that the two key elements in the Su-30MKI, the radar station and the electronic warfare complex, lag behind modern counterparts and require modernization. Recall that the Su-30MKI / SM radar is the N011 Bars with a passive phased antenna array (PFAR). Its basic modification was created on the basis of the N001 radar with a slot antenna array and a bypass channel for the air-to-surface mode. It must be said that now in the West even fourth-generation fighters (not to mention the fifth) are actively supplying more technological advanced radars with active phased array antennas, which, despite their high cost, provide higher reliability and efficiency of target detection. It was the new radar with AFAR that Singh proposed as an option for equipping the Su-30SM. However, without specifying a specific station and timing.
At the same time, Jane's believes that issues related to the electronic warfare complex are an even more difficult challenge, since the large size of the aircraft (provided there is no stealth technology) makes it a convenient target. The current aircraft electronic warfare kit is a variant of the Russian SAP-518 system, which can be supplemented with a radio-electronic suppression container for group protection of the SAP-14 aircraft. “The main purpose of the SAP-518 is the individual protection of the aircraft,” military observer Alexei Leonkov said in 2018. - The system works on the principle of radar detector. That is, it constantly gives distorted information to enemy locators: it reflects the signal with a delay, confuses the measurement of the distance to the object, speed and angular position. This prevents the radar from detecting targets, determining their parameters and generating the necessary data for weapon systems. ”
In general, information about Russian electronic warfare systems is contradictory and often has a propaganda character. It is also worth mentioning that in 2017, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation for the first time received the latest radio-electronic jamming station SAP-518SM, which is designed for the Su-30SM.
What about weapons? Earlier, the Indians had claims to the Russian R-77 missiles. Allegedly, the Su-30MKI, armed with R-77 missiles, could not effectively counter the Pakistani F-16s in February 2019. If the AIM-120 rocket could be launched at a range of 100 kilometers, then the R-77 could be launched from a distance of not more than 80 kilometers. Whether this is true or not is difficult to say, but it is known that earlier the Su-30MKI decided to equip Israeli missiles I-Derby. According to data from open sources, the flight range of the rocket is 100 kilometers. By the way, she was chosen as the main air-to-air weapon system for the Indian HAL Tejas combat aircraft.
Impact weapons Su-30MKI looks more than solid. Suffice it to recall that recently the first Su-30MKI squadron, armed with the new Brasos supersonic anti-ship missile, entered service with the Indian Air Force. If you believe the media, the rocket weighs 2,5 tons, its speed is 2,8 times higher than the speed of sound, and the firing range is about 400 kilometers. One Su-30MKI can carry up to three Bramos missiles: any Russian fighter would envy such anti-ship capabilities: at least the Su-30SM, even the Su-35S, even the Su-57.
As we can see, the Su-30MKI aircraft does not fully meet the requirements of the XNUMXst century, so it is no longer possible to count on new contracts for hundreds of aircraft. However, what is true for Europe and the USA is not always true for less developed regions. Simply put, despite criticism of the aircraft, it is and in the foreseeable future will remain one of the most powerful fighters in South Asia.
Recall that countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka do not have fifth-generation fighters: neither their own, nor purchased abroad. At the same time, the total number of Dassault Rafale is not enough for the regional "revolution", although the machines can speak their word in the context of a local conflict. By the way, maybe the Indians are right, limiting themselves to 36 "Frenchmen." Apparently, neither India, nor Pakistan, nor any other country in the region are interested in the big war.