The government is set to procure 21 MiG-29 and 12 Sukhoi-30MKI fighter aircraft from Russia, days after the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved the purchase of 83 Light Combat Aircraft Tejas from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The Centre will also purchase the upgrades of the aircraft's existing fleets.
The Request for Proposal (RFP) will soon be issued to Russian state-run defence export arm Rosoboronexport, sources told the Times of India.
The MiG-29s are expected to be acquired at "relatively lower prices" and will add to 59 such jets already with the Indian Air Force (IAF). The 12 Sukhoi-30MKIs, on the other hand, will add to the existing fleet of 272 such fighter aircraft already contracted from Russia for around $15 billion, with the majority of them licensed to be produced by HAL. The IAF has so far inducted 268 of 272 Sukhoi jets, with around nine of them lost to accidents and crashes over the years.
Along with the 83 new Tejas, to be inducted in the January 2024-December 2028 timeline, the additional MiG-29s and Sukhois will curb the decline in the number of IAF fighter planes and will add more firepower to the draining strength of the air force.
The defence ministry had in July last year granted initial approval for the acquisition of the 21 MiG-29s, and further upgrade of the 59 existing aircraft to "ensure commonality across the fleet," costing Rs 7,418 crore.