The Southern Air Command on Monday got its first Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets which has been modified to carry BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles. The induction was done in the presence of newly-appointed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat and Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria. Speaking at the induction ceremony, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said, "the decision to deploy the Su-30 MKI at Thanjavur was taken due to its strategic location. The SU-30 MKI inducted is equipped with special weapon (BrahMos supersonic cruise missile)."
Water salute was given to the SU-30MKI fighter aircraft at the induction of the 222 ‘Tigersharks’ fighter squadron at the Thanjavur air base.
How Sukhoi-30MKI induction at Southern Air Command is strategically important
- Induction stratigically important due to increase of Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region. Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets armed with lethal Brahmos missile at its new squadron based in Tamil Nadu's Thanjavur.
- Su-30 has a range of 1,200 km and with addition of 300 km range of the Brahmos, India can strike at locations deep inside the region.
- The new squadron will initially have around five to six fighter jets but gradually it will operate with full strength of 18 aircraft.
- Also known as 'Tigersharks', Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets are armed with 2.5 ton air-launched BrahMos missile of 300 km range. The missiles could be launched from large stand-off ranges on any target at sea or on land with pin-point accuracy, irrespective whether its day or night.
- 222 Squadron would be operationalised with Brahmos-equipped Sukhoi-30 air superiority fighter with twin engine.
- The Indian Air Force has so far inducted 260 of total 272 Sukhois from Russia, however, 222 of them are being licensed-produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
- Sukhoi fighter jets have a combat range of 1,500 km and doesn't require aerial refueling.
- Plan to further upgrade Sukhois with avionics, radars and weapons.
- India-Russia have jointly produced BrahMos cruise missile. The missiles have a range of 290 kms that fly at Mach 2.8 speed.
- BrahMos missile can be launched from air, land or sea, day or night in all weather conditions.
- All three forces army, navy, air force have inducted BrahMos missiles.
Meanwhile, Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Bipin Rawat's mandate is to set up theatre commands comprising components from Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. This will help make a ground for General Rawat to re-strategise the theatre command in the southern sector.
Prior to the induction of Su-30 at the Southern Command, Indian Navy chief, Admiral Karambir Singh said that the Chinese Navy's presence is rapidly increasing in the Indian Ocean region and the Indian Navy is keeping a watch on the developments through "mission-based" deployments.
At a panel discussion at the Raisina Dialogue, he had said that there have been instances when People's Liberation Army (PLA) ships have entered India's exclusive economic zones and the Navy has told them that this impinges on Indian interests.