India to buy 33 Russian fighter aircraft for $2.43 billion
India’s defense ministry on July 2 approved the purchase of 21 Russian MiG-29 and 12 Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter aircraft costing $2.43 billion to augment its air force as the country faces security challenges on its borders with China and Pakistan.
The planes will supplement 59 MiG-29’s and 272 Sukhoi aircraft currently in service.
The defense ministry also said it has approved local development of missile systems for all three branches of the military, and ammunition and upgraded infantry combat vehicles for the army.
India is awaiting the arrival of the first batch of 36 Rafale fighter jets ordered as part of a $8.78 billion deal signed with France in 2016 in “ready to fly” condition, meaning they will be made in France. India is expecting four to six Rafale aircraft to arrive in India at the end of this month.
India has become the world’s biggest arms importer as it modernizes its military. Major arms manufacturers are wooing the country as it replaces obsolete Soviet-era weapons.
Rahul Bedi, a defense analyst, said the acquisition of the Russian aircraft will boost the air force’s depleted fighter squadron numbers, which have dropped from an approved total of 42 to 28. One squadron comprises 18 aircraft.
He said the 21 MiG-29s will be second-hand planes that will be updated in Russia, while the 12 Su-30MKIs will be built under license by India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. AP
California firm’s rocket fails in launch from New Zealand
Rocket Lab, which specializes in putting small satellites into orbit, failed to deploy a payload of seven satellites during its 13th launch, the Long Beach, Calif., company said July 4.
The failure occurred during the second-stage burn approximately four minutes after the Electron rocket lifted off from the company’s launch site in Mahia, New Zealand.
The liftoff and first-stage burn and separation were successful, Rocket Lab said in a statement.
The company said it was investigating the cause of the failure, which followed 11 consecutive successful orbital launches by its Electron rockets.
The main satellite aboard the rocket was intended to demonstrate Canon Electronics Inc.’s Earth-imaging technology.
Before the failure, Rocket Lab said it was planning monthly launches for the remainder of the year and into 2021. Those missions include launches for the U.S. Space Force and NASA. AP