India is currently in talks with Russia to upgrade its existing fighter jets Sukhoi-30 into "super Sukhois", which would have advanced aviation technology and weapons. The two countries would also jointly develop the fifth generation of fighter aircraft (FGFA).
The Indian Air Force currently houses 33 fighter jet squadrons, of which the 11 MiG-27 and MiG-21 are nearing their retirement, the Economic Times reported. The IAF requires about 42 jet squadrons to tackle the threat from China-Pakistan.
The action plan for boosting air combating power includes, induction of the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft. The first all-Tejas squadron is expected to come up by 2018. India and France are also now close to sealing the $8.56 billion deal for Rafale jets. Once the deal is finalised, the fighter jets are expected to be delivered to India in the next 18 months.
Lockheed Martin's F-16, Boeing's F-18 and the Swedish Gripen-E are contesting for the proposed 'Make in India' project. The defence ministry is also working on finalizing the research and development design contract with Russia for a "multi-role fighter," which is a variant of the Russian FGCA called Sukhoi T-50.
"Apart from resolving technical and cost issues, Russia has also agreed to allow IAF test pilots to fly its prototypes now," a source was quoted as saying by ET.
According to India's defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the serviceability of Sukhoi has jumped to about 60 per cent from the previous estimate of 46 per cent.
"The aim is to achieve 75 per cent serviceability. This has been done with an active tripartite dialogue between Russia, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and IAF to ensure better availability and maintenance of the Sukhois," Parrikar was quoted as saying by ET.