Portugal welcomed some rare birds last week, as four Indian Sukhoi Su-30 Flankers and four Sepecat Jaguars landed at Beja airbase. The fighter jets were accompanied by two Ilyushin Il-78 tanker aircraft and two C-17 Globemasters whole on their long, long way to Alaska for exercise Red Flag.
India is sending the aircraft plus a contingent of 150 personnel to the prestigious military exercise within the framework of military cooperation between New Delhi and Washington. The last time India attended Red Flag was in 2008. Then, only Su-30s were involved and the stage was not Alaska, but Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
Red Flag features aircraft from the US and other NATO countries and provides an opportunity for the Indian Air Force to train in complex war environments. Aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor and other fighter jet will be involved and thus provide a good experience for Indian Jaguar pilots and Su-30 crews in particular.
The ferry of the aircraft from India to Alaska was a complex operation. The jets and their support aircraft routed via Bahrain, Egypt, France and Portugal, from where they crossed the Atlantic to Canada before finally arriving in Alaksa for Red Flag.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has concluded a new contract with the Irkut aircraft manufacturing corporation for 30 more Sukhoi Su-30SM Flanker C fighter aircraft. The contract was announced on Sunday 3 April.
Deliveries of this latest batch of advanced fighter jets are to be concluded by the end of 2018. Total orders for the Russian Air Force now stand at 90. Meanwhile, the Russian Navy is also eyeing the type.
Over the last few months, Russian Air Force Su-30SM jets also participated in Russian air raids over Syria. The majority of those aircraft was pulled back from Syria in March.
As predicted late last year here at Airheadsfly.com, Belarus is moving to purchase a number of Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter aircraft to replace aging MiG-29 Fulcrums. A preliminary agreement was signed between Belarus and Russia earlier in February.
The pending deal concerns twelve aircraft, with deliveries due to start in 2020. A formal contract has yet to be signed, but that seems a formality as relations between Moscow and Minsk have always been close. Russia operates up to sixty Su-30SM jets.
Belarus recently started operational use of the Yak-130, eight of which were ordered earlier. These aircraft replace obsolete L-29 Delphins.
The famous Monino aviation museum in Moscow may very well close its doors in the not-too-distant future and see parts of its unique collection of aircraft scrapped. A small number of airplanes could move to Kubinka airbase as part of the new ‘Patriot’ museum.
East of Moscow, Monino offers a fascinating collection of MiGs, Sukhois, Yakovlevs, Ilyuhsins and Tupolevs, many of them prototypes, early production models or otherwise rare aircraft. The museum is unique in every aspect, its number of exhibits not in the least. Many dozens of aircraft are on display.
Moscow ordered the building of the new ‘Patriot’ museum near Kubinka airbase to the west of Moscow. The base is home to Russian Air Force flight testing. Construction for the new museum started in 2014, and the location is now ready for items to be displayed. These should include a number of aircraft from Monino, with the remainder at Monino possibly to be scrapped.
Many aircraft at Monino, especially the larger ones, are deemed unfit for any kind of transportation as they would likely fall apart in the process. The Monino museum has been short on funds for maintenance for years.
On paper the Indian Air Force has roughly 700 fighter and strike jets, but in reality slightly only about half are operational raising concern about how effective the military of the 2nd largest population in the world is being protected.
The average aircraft availability measured over the entire year is about 50 to 55 percent, Defence officials have admitted towards the parliamentary committee on defence matters. About 20 percent of those jets are simply grounded because of the lack of spare parts, but Indian Air Force sources say that concerns mostly the older Soviet-era jets like the approx. 120 MiG-21 Bisons, 80 MiG-27 Bahadurs and 130 to 135 SEPECAT Shamshers (Jaguars).
The government watchdog authority also slashed the reputation of the Air Force’s three Ilyushin/Beriev A-50 AWACS aircraft. Lack of trained aircrew, lack of bases to operate from, lack of funds and resources for the aircraft maintenance have seriously hampered the effectiveness of the airborne radar and intelligence gathering platforms.