Advanced Russian-made Su-30 fighter jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF) did not take part in the 27 February dogfight with Pakistani warplanes due to red tape-related problems, the Hindu reports.
“Owing to the bureaucratic delays, we could not develop blast pens [reinforced shelters] for Su-30 MKIs near the Line of Control [LoC]. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) sanctioned the project only at the end of 2017”, the newspaper cited a defence source as saying.
The source added that as a result, the Su-30 jets were not deployed along the LoC, and “they were scrambled from behind to intercept the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jets that tried to bomb Indian military installations”, with Soviet-made MiG-21 jets being “the first responders” during the aerial combat.
A new escalation of Indian-Pakistani tensions culminated on 27 February, when the IAF’s MiG-21 Bison and the PAF’s F-16 were downed in a dogfight over Kashmir, a day after the IAF conducted an assault on an alleged terrorist base in the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir, reportedly destroying several facilities.
The air raid followed a suicide attack claimed by the Pakistan-based terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad on 14 February that killed more than 40 Indian soldiers.
India blamed Pakistan for harbouring and protecting terrorists and accused Islamabad of having a “direct hand” in the deadly incident – accusations that Pakistan vehemently denies.
The SU-30 MKI, NATO reporting name Flanker-H, is the IAF’s elite fighter-bomber developed by Russia’s Sukhoi Aviation Corporation.
The IAF got the first batch of such warplanes from Russia in 1996 and has since contracted 272 aircraft.