Once the main importer of Soviet and then Russian weapons, India turned out to be an unstable and unreliable partner for Moscow. The disruption of contracts and deals on the part of New Delhi has become an ordinary thing and, it seems, does not surprise Russian partners. One could say that the “nose is turned back”, but there are more serious reasons. India, well aware of the mutual interest in relations with Russia, is actively seeking ways of fruitful contacts with the West, both Europe and the United States. There is also an element of some kind of financial blackmail, when due to the presence of two or more sellers, the buyer forces one of them to dump prices. And Russia fell under this Indian press – Moscow’s arms prices are already significantly lower than other countries
India also refused the fifth-generation Russian fighter Su-57, citing the fact that the Indian Air Force will soon have its fifth-generation multi-role fighter. And this despite the fact that New Delhi withdrew from a joint program with the Russians to create an FGFA fighter. Now the turn has come to the Russian Su-30MKI fighter, which is in service, in favor of the French Rafale.
The fact is already accomplished – the Indian authorities chose to buy French Rafale fighters for the needs of indian Air Force, instead of the Russian Su-30MKI (Flanker-N, according to NATO codification). The contract for the supply of 36 “Rafales” worth 7.87 billion euros was signed by New Delhi with the French government in September 2016, however, its implementation was delayed and it was likely that the Indians would change their minds, primarily due to the high prices. Now the point of no return has been passed, these French fighters have already been spotted with the identification marks of the Indian Air Force and are supposed to arrive in India in several batches from 2019 to 2022.
The question of choice is business, and plus, of course, is politics. But business is not entirely clear. Russian fighters of the 4+ generation Su-30MKI cost India $ 83 million per unit – this is the Indian assembly, which produces half of these 250 aircraft. The purchase of a similar aircraft in Russia is about 50 million. The total amount of the order was 12 billion dollars. Each French Rafale (4.5 generation) cost India $ 218 million.
That is, instead of 36 French India could get more than 95 Russian fighters. Again, when you consider that the share of the Indian Air Force’s fleet is 80 percent composed of Soviet and Russian equipment and all ground airfield infrastructure is “tailored” for them, plus refueling aircraft are adapted, then you will have to adjust European standards to the “French”. And, of course, spend additional funds on this in addition to the purchase itself. It is argued that the Indian arms import system sins with numerous schemes of “kickbacks” when concluding contracts, but this is already a problem for the law enforcement structures of India itself – to figure out who is more “brought” from Paris.
As a political step on the part of New Delhi with the “French choice” is also not entirely clear. Especially when you consider that at the recent Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russian President Vladimir Putin was, as they say, not spill water with the Indian guest, Prime Minister Narendra Modi . There they concluded a whole package of bilateral agreements in the trade, investment and military-technical spheres, in the fields of industry, education and culture. The military part of the deals was estimated by India’s future orders of Russian arms at $ 14.5 billion – a record amount lately. And although it was not specifically about the Su-30MKI (deliveries of S-400 air defense systems and project 11356 frigates were agreed), the topic of “airplanes” was nevertheless voiced.
It is worth recalling that, for example, MiG-21 fighters (one of the best in the world at that time), India began to buy from the USSR back in 1962, and in 1967 itself began to manufacture them, releasing a total of 657 such aircraft. Su-30MKI, the Indians themselves also built a lot. And, it’s kind of like, they are considering the possibility of purchasing Russian Su-35 fighters, it is possible that over time, and fifth-generation Su-57 fighters. And then bam – go to Rafale, and even report on their readiness to close the aircraft factory producing Su-30MKI in India itself.
In New Delhi, they explain this decision by the fact that the French military fighters are superior in their characteristics to the Russian ones. And, according to the Indian publication The Economic Times, the Rafale can barrage one and a half times longer than the Su-30MKI, and the Frenchman’s flight range is almost double, and he can fly sorties five times a day against three in Russian. Rafale is also noted for its superiority in armament, which will allow hitting Pakistani aircraft at a great distance without threats of being noticed. In addition, cases of flying accidents with a Russian aircraft became more frequent. In general, they cut up “drying” like a turtle god. Well, the product is purchased, you need to praise it.
As Comrade Saakhov said in The Prisoner of the Caucasus: “Listen, insulting, I swear, insulting.” In this case, it’s a shame for the Russian Su-30MKI, which the Indians so undeservedly belittled in combat qualities. Let’s see if our Flanker is so bad and whether the French Rafale is so good. Turn to the dry numbers TTX.
According to the aforementioned range and duration of the barrage of the Su-30MKI, the flight range is 3,000 kilometers at altitude (at a speed of 2,225 km / h) and 1,270 km near the ground (at a speed of 1,350 km / h), combat radius is 1,500 km. The practical ceiling is 17,300 meters. Flight duration 3.5 hours without refueling. We look at the “price list” Rafale. Its flight radius is 1,800 kilometers, while the combat radius in the version with suspension for weapons is 1,389 km. The maximum speed at high altitude is 1 915 km / h, the practical ceiling is 15 240 meters. And where does anyone have advantages here, comrades Hindus?
In terms of armament, the similarities of the two fighters in a 30-mm air cannon, the outboard armament varies by manufacturing countries, each contains air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. The Russian version provides for free-falling bombs (500 or 250 kg each), KMG-U containers with fragmentation, incendiary, and cumulative cassette blocks. The total combat load is 8000 kg. In general, our “drying” looks more powerful than the “Frenchman”.
By “age”, both aircraft can be said to be of the same age. The Su-30 had its first flight at the end of December 1989, in the version of the updated MKI version for India in 1997. Then its production was carried out as part of the international cooperation Russia-France-Israel-India. At “Rafale” (Rafale A) the first flight was performed on July 4, 1986, the beginning of operation was in May 2001.
It is known about the combat use of Rafale as part of the French Air Force that in March 2007, these fighters worked on the ground positions of militants in Afghanistan. In Libya, from March to October 2011, small groups of these aircraft patrolled (together with Mirage 2000) patrolled airspace and also targeted the troops and military installations of Muammar Gaddafi – they destroyed several MiG-23 aircraft and helicopters on the ground at Misurta airfield Mi-24. In 2015-2016, taking off from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, as part of a military operation against the Islamic State * (a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation), they attacked ISIS forces in Iraq. Nothing is known about Rafale’s air victories.
“Drying” has more military merits in the sky. To begin with, back in 2005, the Su-30MKI of the Indian Air Force showed superiority over the US Air Force F-16 and F-15C / D Eagle in training battles. In 2015, in the UK, as part of the international Rainbow exercises, in training battles with Eurofighter Typhoon fighters of the Royal Air Force, Indian pilots on the Su-30MKI won 12-0. And although the British, justifying themselves, said that they acted “to the best of their ability”, the fact remains.
The main combat use of the Su-30MKI was in the border regions of India with Pakistan. There, Indian fighters repeatedly shot down automatic reconnaissance balloons. On February 27, 2019, an air battle took place between the Indian Air Force group and the Pakistan Air Force, in which four Indian Su-30MKIs and four MiG-21s participated, from the Pakistani side there were 24 aircraft in the sky, including 8 F-16s. One of the F-16s was shot down by the MiG-21, while recognizing that it was the presence of the Su-30MKI in the sky above Kashmir that caused Pakistani aircraft to retreat. “Drying” then evaded American-made AIN-120 missiles, and one of them was shot down on approach. A few days later, in the same area, a Su-30MKI patrolling the border found and shot down a jet drone flying from Pakistan.
Well, the last “argument” that the Su-30MKIs are trying to write down is the allegedly unreliable operation. At the same time, flight accidents for some reason mostly happen precisely with fighters of the Indian assembly. And, as many aviation experts note, the weak point of the Indian Air Force is precisely the maintenance of aircraft, which is not carried out at the proper level. With Rafale, presumably, without proper experience, Indian techies will have to puff more. Unlike the already run-in Su-30MKI.