Russia and India have agreed to establish a logistics hub in India to support the Indian Air Force (IAF)’s fleet of over 200 Sukhoi Su-30MKI Flankers (Sputnik News).
The $300 million U.S. facility will be set up at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which has been assembling the Su-30MKI under license since November 2004. The impetus for the logistics hub was driven by the IAF’s difficulty in maintaining a sufficient number of combat-ready fighters.
Notes, Comments & Analysis:
In December 2015, India’s accountability watchdog, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), stated that the IAF’s Su-30MKI fleet’s serviceability stood at 46% (today it is at 60%). In other words, of the IAF’s 210 Su-30MKIs, upwards of 115-126 were grounded for maintenance and repairs. The IAF needs 70-75% of its Su-30MKI fleet to be combat-ready (Defense News).
A major reason for this maintenance shortfall has been an inconsistent spare parts supply chain in Russia. The IAF still depends on Moscow for spare parts, and as such, has sought the Indian government’s support in rectifying the unreliable spare parts channel.
This new logistics hub is envisaged to serve a critical role in that regard. It appears that the hub will work in conjunction with a long-term agreement between India and Russia to prioritize spare parts for the IAF. Under that agreement (which was agreed upon in December 2015), spare parts would enter production within a month of the IAF listing it as a requirement.
The hub could serve as a secondary layer, one that may anticipate upcoming requirements in advance and work to procure the necessary spare parts long before it becomes an issue for the IAF. Long-term, India is aiming to manufacture the spare parts domestically. A number of Indian private sector players, e.g. Tata Group, Reliance Infrastructure, Bharat Forge, and Larsen & Toubro are vying to enter into a partnership with Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation to manufacture Flanker components in India (Defense News).