BANGALORE, India — Russia has offered the Indian Air Force an improved version of the engine that powers Sukhoi Su-30MKI multirole fighters.

"We have had developed a better successor to the AL-31F engine based on a new design and has been offered to IAF as part of the upgradation package," Alexander Artyukhov, the director of Russia's United Engine Corporation, told media at Aero India 2017. "The AL-41F-1S is a brand new engine, which produces 18 percent more thrust than its predecessor."

The Indian Air Force has reported problems with the current fighter's engine, the Saturn AL-31F, "forcing a revision of the maintenance drill of the aircraft," an Air Force official said.

However, Artyukhov insisted that there was nothing wrong with the Saturn AL-31F engine.

"There is nothing wrong with Russian manufactured equipment as our quality controls are strong," he said.

India and Russia are currently negotiating an upgrade of the Indian Air Force's Su-30MKI to a near fifth-generation level. The upgrade version is to be dubbed Super Sukhoi. It will cost more than $6 billion to upgrade all 270 Su-30MKI aircraft — a number that includes those already stage and those already delivered.

"We will be the nodal agency to carry out Su-30MIKI upgrade program," state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Chairman T. Suvarna Raju told Defense News, adding that the program will be finalized in less than one year.

The Super Sukhois will include a modernized cockpit. A major part of the upgrade also involves avionics and sensors. The aircraft will have advanced stealth capabilities and be equipped with the Indo-Russian supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, an infrared homing system, new advanced avionics, and active electronically scanned array, said a diplomat with the Russian Embassy in India.

Once the Super Sukhoi contract is signed, it's expected the prototype will be manufactured in Russia and the upgrade made at an Hindustan Aeronautics Limited facility.

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