India's fleet of Su-30MKI Flanker-H fighters could be armed with BrahMos missiles by 2012, the vice president of the Irkut Corporation said at the Singapore Airshow 2010 on Thursday.
The Corporation is a prime contractor in manufacturing the Su-30MKI multi-role fighters for the Indian Air Force. Its share of Russia's arms exports is 15%.
"The modernization program includes re-equipping of some 100 Su-30MKI fighters, which are currently in service with the Indian Air Force," Vladimir Sautov said.
"It is being carried out by the Rosoboronexport, the Sukhoi Design Bureau and NPO Mashinostroyeniya. If things go well, we may offer modernized Su-30MKI fighters to our other foreign partners as soon as 2012," he added.
The BrahMos missile has a range of 290 km (180 miles) and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg (660 lbs). It can effectively engage ground targets from an altitude as low as 10 meters (30 feet) and has a top speed of Mach 2.8, which is about three times faster than the U.S.-made subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile.
The Indian Air Force originally ordered 50 Su-30MKI aircraft from Russia in 1996 and an additional 40 planes in 2007. India's Hindustani Aeronautics (HAL) was also contracted to build 140 aircraft in India between 2003 and 2017 under a licensed production agreement.
Sautov also revealed that as the missile is "large, heavy and powerful," a lighter modification is currently under development, which will enable Su-30MKI fighters to carry not only one but three missiles.
Established in 1998, BrahMos Aerospace, a joint Indian-Russian venture, produces and markets BrahMos supersonic missiles. The sea-based and land-based versions have been successfully tested and put into service with the Indian Army and Navy.
SINGAPORE, February 4 (RIA Novosti)