IAPO to Rollout First Production Su-30MKI Soon
Aircraft Production Association of Irkutsk (IAPO) is to display a production Su-30MKI at next year's Bangalore Air Show in February and to deliver the first aircraft to the Indian Air Force "in the middle of the next year," according to Aleksei Fiodorov, the IAPO chairman.
According to Fiodorov, "It is a must for us to have a production aircraft on display" in Bangalore and stated that by that time, three production airframes will have been completed. IAPO is finalizing work on the first production Su-30MKIs that should be ferried from Irkutsk to LII at Zhukovsky near Moscow for flight tests "this autumn."
Answering criticism about the poor operational performance of the 18 Su-30Ks in IAF service and the customer's dissatisfaction with the airplane, Fiodorov said that the Indians had never complained about the Su-30. "On the contrary, the IAF continues to be impressed by the aircraft."
Fiodorov further said all 18 Su-30Ks delivered so far were new aircraft and some not, as reported, ex-Russian Air Force Su-27UB trainers. Fiodorov attributes the sources of the reports of problems with the aircraft to Western producers eager to persuade the Indians to revise their decision to buy the Su-30MKI and buy a Western aircraft in its place.
Commenting on engine problems that are reported to have been experienced by the 18 Su-30Ks already delivered to India, Fiodorov said that a group of Russian companies, including TsIAM (Central Institute for Aircraft Engines) and A. Lyulka-Saturn (developer of the AL-31-series engines) has resolved the problem the AL-31 engines have with Indian and Chinese aviation fuel, which was causing injector jets to clog. The solution involves the replacement of rubber linings along with certain fuel jets with customized versions for Asian countries. MMPP Salyut and UMPO are therefore preparing to produce "tropical versions" of the AL-31 for the new Indian and Chinese aircraft.
IAPO continues work on the Aircraft 302, an upgrade of the in-service twin-seat Flankers (Su-27UB and Su-30), which has recently been given the Su-30KN designation by Sukhoi. The program is being head up by a newcomer to IAPO, Mikhail Korzhuyev, formerly head of Mikoyan design bureau and the ill-fated Russian Avionics Company, who is now IAPO's deputy general director for research and development programs.
According to Fiodorov, IAPO has signed an agreement with the Aero-Navigation Equipment Corporation (Korporatsiya Aeronavigatsionnogo Oborudovania) headed by Bodrov on the Su-30KN, under which the corporation will carry responsibility for the Su-30KN's avionics suite originally developed by Russian Avionics. Earlier this year the Aircraft 302 finished its first stage of trials with RusAF and is reported to have received a positive response. RusAF is currently considering upgrading of several in-service Su-27UBs and Su-30s to the Aircraft 302 standard according to Fiodorov. This will allow continued test launches of various types of guided weapons following the Aircraft 302 firings earlier this year. Fiodorov also said that Gromov's Flight Test and Research Institute is also ready to upgrade some of its experimental Su-27 fighters to Su-30KN variants.
Fiodorov admitted that another military avionics developer, RPKB, which integrated the original Flanker avionics suite, has its own vision of the Su-30 upgrade, through its involvement with the Su-30MKI, and is not happy with the fact that other companies are producing upgrades for the Su-27-series aircraft avionics without RPKB's permission as the original developer.
Fiodorov, however, says that the Su-30KN avionics suite has to be primarily Russian to meet the requirement of the Russian Air Force and the MKI avionics are custom-made to meet the customers' needs and therefore do not fulfill this requirement, having a large proportion of non-Russian equipment.