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Why India Might Be Eyeing Deal to Get Russia’s Su-57 'Felon' Warplanes

© Sputnik / Evgeny Odinokov / Go to the mediabankThe Sukhoi Su-57 multi-purpose fifth-generation fighter
The Sukhoi Su-57 multi-purpose fifth-generation fighter - Sputnik India, 1920, 17.06.2024
With the Indian Air Force experiencing an urgent need for fifth-generation fighter jets, military observers in India are highly optimistic about the country's potential acquisition of Russia's most advanced warplanes, the Sukhoi Su-57 "Felons".
The Indian Air Force (IAF) may boost its fighter jet fleet by acquiring Russia's Su-57 'Felon', a stealth aircraft. This move would be essential as the IAF faces a dwindling number of warplanes in its inventory, according to a military veteran.
Moreover, the prospective deal is being viewed as a win-win situation for India because the Su-57 can have great synergy with the Russian-procured S-400.

Takes Two to Tango: Russia's S-400 & Su-57 Combo to Transform IAF

Former IAF pilot and military expert Vijainder K Thakur verified the fact that the IAF would gain a lot from the interoperability and networking compatibility between the Su-57 and the S-400.
However, there are other reasons why the Su-57 could be a good choice for the IAF, he maintained.

"First and foremost is the fact that India's rivals have either already deployed stealth fighters, or plan to do so in the near future," Thakur told Sputnik India.

For instance, in January 2024, the Pakistan Air Force's (PAF) Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu stated that the "foundation for acquiring the J-31 stealth fighter aircraft has already been laid," and it's set to become part of its fleet soon.
Additionally, the defence analyst highlighted that by 2030, it is highly probable that the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) will have the capacity to deploy 600 J-20 stealth fighter bombers, while Pakistan's air force will likely possess roughly 100 J-31 stealth fighters.

"In stark contrast, the IAF would have no stealth fighters in its inventory by that time. Realistically speaking, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is 2-3 years from its maiden flight and around 15 years away from operational induction," Thakur stressed.

First-of-Its-Kind Warplane

Thakur praised the features of the Russian aircraft, noting that the Su-57 is currently the only stealth fighter in the world that has successfully demonstrated its ability to operate against peer adversary air defence systems.
Besides, many of the weapon systems developed for and deployed on the Su-57 are "invisible" and the IAF's Su-30MKI would be able to leverage the stealth capabilities of these weapon systems for better penetration.

"Most importantly, the Su-57 can carry electronic equipment in its weapons bay to operate as a drone mothership, controlling highly stealthy and penetrating drones such as the Okhotnik (S-70)," the military expert highlighted.

What Do These 'Invisible' Jet Fighters Bring to the Table?

Also, Thakur explained the reasons behind what was prompting air forces around the world to induct stealth aircraft at such a rapid pace.
He asserted that radar invisibility is here to stay due to the fact that Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air combat has largely supplanted Within Visual Range (WVR) combat. Stealth technology provides a distinct advantage to one party in BVR air combat.
Additionally, air forces around the world are leveraging radar stealth to their advantage with missiles and drones.
"Stealthy drones and missiles stand a better chance of penetrating adversary air defences and air forces that can afford to procure and operate stealth fighters are doing so to deter adversary adventurism," the former IAF officer summed up.
Thakur's comments were made in response to an article by a former IAF vice-chief supporting the acquisition of the Su-57 Felon from Russia. The article emphasized the importance of having fifth-generation aircraft to protect the country's airspace.

"While India has decided to pursue its own fifth-generation fighter, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), Su-57 remains on offer. The multi-role fighter aircraft is meant for air superiority missions and can take on surface and maritime targets. It incorporates stealth, super-maneuverability in all aircraft axes, super-cruise, integrated avionics, and large payload capacity," Air Marshal (Retired) Anil Chopra wrote in his column for a defense publication on Monday.

Though India's recent shift in defence manufacturing has been towards indigenisation, the IAF may be looking at a stop-gap arrangement to boost its depleting fighter squadron strength, especially at a time when air forces around the world including those in India's immediate neighbourhood are incorporating stealth aircraft, Chopra added.
Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jets in Zhukovsky - Sputnik India, 1920, 18.11.2023
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