Photo by Airman 1st Class Stephanie Rubi
Photo by Airman 1st Class Stephanie Rubi

MOSCOW: India and Russia are set to sign a pact for quick delivery of spare parts for the Su 30 MKI fleet that would ensure that the aircraft is available for more combat missions – a key focus area for Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar who has working on reducing the amount of time frontline fighters are grounded due to technical issues.

The long term spares agreement will provide for an express process for the delivery of spares for the fleet for the next five years. Unlike in the past where each spare part had to be ordered separately with a lengthy process involving license, customs clearance and bank guarantees, the contract will ensure that spare parts start getting manufactured within a month of the air force raising a requirement.

“A delegation from the Indian defence ministry is expected in the second half of December and we hope to have a positive decision and sign the contract at the soonest,” Valery V Chishchevoy, Marketing Director of Sukhoi told ET.

While in the past, the bureaucratic processes led to a 12 month time period between the time a requirement was raised and the spare part would start to get manufactured, this time will now be cut to 30 days.

Chishchevoy said that the main purpose of the new agreement is to increase the reliability and availability of the Su 30 fleet to 60 percent and higher. The availability rate is the number of aircraft in the entire fleet that are available for combat missions at any given time. At present, just over 50 percent of India’s Su 30 fleet – 272 of the fighters have been ordered – are available for combat missions as the rest are either undergoing repairs or grounded due to delay in the supply of spare parts.

Defence Minister Parrikar has told ET in the past that his aim is to increase this availability rate to 65 percent and above so that the available resources of the air force are used optimally. The Su 30 MKI fleet is the cutting edge of the airforce and would be it largest in terms of numbers of a modern fighter jet.

There is a possibility that the availability of the fleet could touch the magical figure of 75 percent. Chishchevoy said that the Russian proposal ten years ago when the fleet was young was to appoint Sukhoi as the single supplier responsible for the serviceability of the fleet and 75 percent would be `guaranteed’.

“Under the new contract, after the receipt of a request from the Indian air force, the spare part wil be delivered to the air force warehouse within 4-12 months, depending on the time it takes to manufacture the part. As of now, 12 months are required for just to start the production, this will reduce to 30 days,” Viacheslav Yu Lozan, After Sale Center Director, Sukhoi said.