Super Sukhoi Upgrade
In the midst of recent tensions along both the fronts,it’s apparent now that IAF not only speeds up it’s acquisition process for new fighters but also speeds up upgradation of it’s premium air superiority fighter SU-30MKI , that’s long overdue.The backbone of IAF,which once was one of the best air superiority platforms in the world ,is now lagging behind the competition in want of upgrades.
To answer these vows ,a plan to upgrade the MKIs have been in consideration since 2010.The Sukhoi Super 30 upgrade,as what it’s called consists of many changes in various systems of the aircraft to bring it at par with the competition.
SUPER SUKHOI : What is it and how it’s different from the SU-30MKI?
1.Propulsion- SU-30MKI is powered by the Saturn AL31 F engines which provides 122.6 kn of thrust.In Super Sukhoi upgrade ,it will be changed to AL41F (The same engine that powers the Su35) which will provide a 176 kn of max thrust while also being more fuel efficient,hence increasing the range.also more power will translate into more powerful and bigger radars and other avionics.
2.Radar- The MKI ,as of now ,employs N011M BARS radar which is a hybrid PESA system.It has a target detection range of 140 km for a fighter sized target.In super sukhoi it will be swapped with ZHUK-AE FGA35 AESA,having a maximum detection range of 260 km
for a fighter sized target ,and is much more resistant to jamming than current BARS.
3.IRST- Infrared Search and Track is a vital component for a modern fighter.Not only it complements the radar system to detect adverseries but is also a vital asset in detecting fighters having stealth design via their engine heat.Right now MKI employs a highly modified version of OLS -30 IRST having a max detection range of 80 km.After this upgrade it will sport the OLS-50 (The same one used in SU57) ,a QWIP based system with a max detection range of 130km.
4.DSDR- DSDR or digital software defined radio (now built in house) will after upgrade help in frequency hopping and secure communication,with less chances of interception and jamming.
5)Newer Cockpit – Newer Cockpit with LCD touch screens (being procured from Israel)will ease the workload of pilots,while increasing the situational awareness.
6)Reduced RCS- RAM coating will reduce the radar cross section of MKI considerably, increasing it’s chances of survival in multilayered SAM environments.
7) Newer Weapons – with new and powerful radar and irst systems super sukhoi will be able to launch many new weapons of both indigenous and international origins.weapons like ASTRA mk2,R37M,ASRAAM,KH59 MK2,etc. It’s apparent now how much needed this upgrade is for IAF MKIs to retain the edge it did and still has in some areas ,into the future.We can hope it will get done on a priority basis ASAP.