Yak-130 firing flares © REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
The commander of India’s Air Force is heading to Russia for visits to an array of facilities and to try the country’s newest subsonic jet trainer, just as India’s military looks to upgrade its fleet of combat aircraft.
India didn’t reveal much about Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa’s “goodwill visit” to Russia, but said the top-tier commander will visit some “operational and training units” and will have talks with his Russian counterparts.
Interestingly, the Air Marshal, who also chairs the Chiefs of Staff Committee, is expected to fly the Yakovlev Yak-130 jet trainer. The aircraft’s properties are remarkable as it can replicate characteristics of several 4++ generation fighters as well as the fifth-generation Sukhoi Su-57.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has been relying on Russian hardware for decades since the Cold War. 249 Sukhoi Su-30MKI and 66 MiG-29 fighter jets, as well as older-generation MiG-21s, form the mainstay of India’s air power, matched with a fleet of hundreds of Russian-built helicopters.
Just this year, it emerged that the IAF will take delivery of 21 MiG-29s from Russia. The purchase is to deal with the problem of losing operational aircraft faster than new ones can be bought.
India is also a potential buyer of the Sukhoi Su-35, a top Russian air-superiority fighter jet. It features some fifth-generation technologies and stands out due to its high maneuverability and advanced avionics.
Aside from its interest in Russian aircraft, the IAF has already placed orders for French Rafale fighters as well as for its first domestic fighter, the Tejas. However, without a full legacy program in place, these purchases are not enough to plug squadron depletion, local media reckons.
Subscribe to RT newsletter to get stories the mainstream media won’t tell you.