After the Indian Air Force wrote to the ministry of defence expressing concern at its depleting strength and pressing for immediate purchase of 40 Sukhois-30s, which does not warrant tendering or open competition, a deal was inked with Russia in 2007 for $1.6 billion ( Rs7,490 crore), that is $40 million ( Rs190 crore) a piece.
Latest figures tabled in parliament, show that another deal for 40 + 2 Sukhois (2 are replacements for aircraft that crashed last year), to be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautical Limited under licence from the Russian Federation"s Irkutsk, has been struck for $4.3 billion ( Rs20,125 crore), that is $102 million ( Rs480 crore) a piece.
But the escalation in cost cannot be justified, especially aircraft manufactured by HAL, which do not enhance features, such as the AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar.
Defence experts, in fact, are of the view that since the assembly line is in Bangalore, where HAL is based, the latest deal should have cost less.
The deal becomes even more loss-making since American fifth-generation fighter aircraft, F-35, manufactured by Lockheed Martin are priced at $100 million (Rs 470 crore) a piece. F-35, an advanced stealth fighter with features such as supercruise and AESA radar.
The American F-16, again made by Lockheed Martin, is competing in India for IAF"s fighter jet deal with Typhoon and Rafale.