India approves acquisition of 33 fighter jets amid border standoff

3 July 2020 (Last Updated July 3rd, 2020 11:06)

The Government of India has approved the purchase of 33 fighter aircraft to strengthen its air force amid the ongoing standoff with Chinese forces on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.

India approves acquisition of 33 fighter jets amid border standoff
An Indian Air Force Su-30MKI. Credit: Alan Wilson.

The Government of India has approved the purchase of 33 fighter aircraft to strengthen its air force amid the ongoing standoff with Chinese forces on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.

The acquisition, cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), will include 21 MIG-29 and 12 Su-30 MKI aircraft. the DAC also approved the modernisation of 59 existing MIG-29 aircraft.

The government will purchase the Su-30 MKI aircraft from Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) at an estimated cost of Rs107.3bn ($1.43bn). Procurement of the MIG 29 fighters from Russia and the upgrade programme will cost around Rs74.18bn ($990m).

The proposal to acquire new fighter jets was forwarded to the Indian Ministry of Defence last month. The induction of the additional MIG-29 and Su-30 MKI aircraft will help the Indian Air Force (IAF) to increase its fighter squadrons.

India is also set to receive six fully loaded Rafale fighter aircraft by the end of this month.

Besides approving the purchase of new fighter aircraft, the DAC green lighted other acquisition proposals with a combined value of Rs389bn ($5.2bn).

The move includes acquisitions worth Rs311.3bn ($4.16bn) from Indian companies to support the local defence industry.

The procurement will include Pinaka ammunitions, BMP armament upgrades, and software defined radios for the Indian Army. The IAF and Indian Navy will receive Long Range Land Attack Cruise Missile Systems and Astra Missiles.

As planned, the systems will be manufactured in India with the participation of several MSMEs as prime tier vendors.