NEW DELHI — Ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Moscow Dec. 24-25, India's autonomous auditing agency Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) says the Russian-made Su-30MKIaircraft with the Indian Air Force (IAF) suffer from poor serviceability, which is just around 55 percent to 60 percent against the prescribed norm of 75 percent.

The 218-page CAG report tabled in Indian Parliament Dec. 18 notes that the operational readiness of Su-30MKI was low due to high rate of AOG (Aircraft on Ground), low serviceability and less achievement in flying hours.

An IAF official said the high rate of AOG means that out of 210 Su-30MKI with the IAF, around 115-126 aircraft are grounded for repairs and serviceability, which the officer said affects the combat worthiness.

The Su-30MKI suffers from technical problems in the fly-by-wire systems and radar warning receivers, the IAF official said.

The poor serviceability is mainly on account of lack of spares, which come from Russia. IAF has lost six Su-30MKI since it received the first batch in 2002.

India has so far ordered a total of 272 Su-30MKI which are license produced in India by state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). India originally received the standard Su-30MKI but later worked with the Russians to license produce the Su-30MKI with thrust vectoring engines.

"IAF has changed the maintenance drill of the Su-30MKI after finding that there are maintenance problems with the engine. So far, around 35 engine failures in the Su-30MKI have been noticed, including failures on account of power plant," another IAF official said.

Agreement on spares

India has been talking with Russia to set up production centers for spares in India for Su-30MKI.

India's Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar, during his November visit to Moscow discussed the possibility of setting up a joint venture between Russian and Indian domestic companies to produce spares for Su-30MKI and a final agreement could be announced during Modi's visit to Moscow, a Ministry of Defense official said.

Meanwhile, the producer of Sukhoi aircraft, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) of Russia, is also holding talks with other domestic companies, including the Tata group of industries, Reliance Infrastructure, Larsen & Toubro (L&T), and Bharat Forge on setting up a joint venture for manufacturing spares for the Sukhois, a Ministry of Defense source said.

Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

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