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By Bulbul Singh

24 Jul 07. After demanding re-negotiation of the price of SU-30 aircraft to India including the supply of SU -30 MKI kits to India, Moscow has now demanded an increase in the price of MiG -29 upgrade. Sources in the Indian defence ministry said, they have been asked to increase the price of MiG-29 upgrade by up to 10 per cent which would mean another $85m over the previously agreed price of $850m.

Moscow had taken a rather tough stance against India in the last few months said an Indian defence ministry official, by demanding revision of several defence contracts, some already signed and some in the negotiation stage. While Russia has advanced the argument of the appreciating Rupee against the US dollar as the main reason for the demanding of revision of price, sources in the Indian defence ministry said, there are clear signs of Indo—Russian defence ties under strain. Russia is currently the largest supplier of weaponry and equipment to Indian defence forces, but over the last six to seven years, India has been receiving weaponry from western sources as well, mostly from Israel. Besides, the U.S.-India ties are on the boom and the two countries are to conclude an agreement in the nuclear field, for civil purposes.

The Indian Air Force is getting its 65 MiG -29 aircraft upgraded from Russian manufacturer RSK MiG at a price of over $850m. Some of the planes will be upgraded at Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited as well, while the Russian company would do majority of the upgrade job.

The upgrade will include change in the fire control radar, to enable it to carry advanced air-to-surface missiles and laser-guided bombs, allow midair refueling and extend the planes’ life. The avionics and EW systems will be upgraded by Elbit and Rafael of France. Russia’s Ramenskoye Design Co., which integrates the avionics on board MiG aircraft, will also be involved in the upgrade.

The new fire-control radar will allow the use of new generation air-to-air weapons, which are currently deployed on the Su-30MKI and the upgraded MiG-21 is with the Indian Air Force. Besides, the upgraded MiG -29 will also carry advanced air-to-surface missiles and even laser-guided bombs.

The Indian Air Force wants to extend the life of the fighter aircraft from 25 years to 40 years The Upgrade of the MiG-29 is crucial for the Indian Air Force as the Pakistan Air Force has added beyond-visual-range missiles and other advanced weaponry that India’s MiG-29s cannot carry. The upgrade will allow changing the avionics suite with the Phazatron Zhuk-M radar, said the Air Force official.

In 2004, the Indian Navy ordered 16 MiG-29K aircraft to be mounted on the decommissioned Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, which is being refitted for India. In addition, 16 more MiG-29K aircraft are proposed to be bought for the Indian-built aircraft carrier, the Air Defense Ship.

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