Eye on China: How IAF's Sukhoi fighters with BrahMos cruise missiles can shift balance in Indian Ocean Region
The Indian Air Force hopes to bring about a paradigm shift with the deployment of the new Sukhoi-30MKI fighters. The jets are expected to bring about a new strike capability in the Indian Ocean Region(IOR) which has a sizeable Chinese presence.
Sukhoi-30MKI fighter aircraft
The Indian Air Force(IAF) on Monday inducted the first Sukhoi-30MKI fighter aircraft squadron at the Thanjavur airbase in Tamil Nadu with the new Air chief RKS Bhadauria declaring that the decision to deploy the supersonic fighters at Thanjavur was a taken due to its "strategic location".
The jets were inducted into the 222 "Tigersharks" fighter squadron of the Indian Air Force.
222 Squadron, the Tigersharks
Earlier, the IAF had said that Sukhoi fighters were the second frontline fighter squadron to be based in south India.
The latest batch of Sukhoi jets are armed with the indigenous developed BrahMos cruise missiles.
IAF had earlier announced the resurrection of the 222 Squadron - Tigersharks - earlier this month with the Sukhois.
Indian Ocean Region (IOR)
The presence of the elite fighter jets in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) will give India the strategic edge with the central maritime spread, bordering three continents.
The Sukhoi fighters will be equipped with 2.5 ton air-launched BrahMos missile with a target range of over 300 kms giving the Indian Air Force formidable firepower.
China's presence in Djibouti
India's decision to deploy the supersonic Sukhoi fighters in south India is mainly to keep an eye on China with the Communist country opening its first overseas naval base in Djibouti located in the horn of Africa. China has built Asia's biggest port at Djibouti with an eye to control the Indian Ocean region.
The "Tigersharks" can also keep a watch in China's influence along Sri Lankan waters as India seeks greater military ties with the emerald country in order to counter China.
India also has to keep an eye on the Karachi port which is a major strategic military outpost for the Pakistan armed forces.
Paradigm shift in Indian Ocean Region
The Indian Air Force hopes to bring about a paradigm shift with the deployment of the new super fighters. The jets are expected to bring about a new strike capability in the Indian Ocean Region which has a sizeable Chinese presence.
Interestingly. the Sukhoi's will serve an important "maritime role" with the jet's enhanced capability to launch attacks in all-weather conditions including during the day and night.
Jets back in 2004
The Sukhoi 30 MKI which was formely built by Russia but now it is being made by India's Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
Russia had given permission to India to build the jets back in 2004 with the new generation Sukhoi's expected to form the backbone of the IAF in the new decade.
BrahMos supersonic cruise missile
The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, jointly developed by India and Russia, can be launched from the Sukhoi. The missiles can be dropped from over1,640 to 46,000 feet making the Sukhoi jet a unique fighting force at par with the best in the world.
The BrahMos missile was first tested by the Indian Air Force on the Sukhoi two years ago in the Bay of Bengal and it was deployed last year.
The HAL has carried out extensive refitting to integrate the nuclear-tipped missile.