Consolidating its decades-old expertise in manufacturing tyres for the defence sector, MRF has bagged a major order from the Indian Air Force to supply main wheel tyres for the Sukhoi 30 MKI. “It is a matter of pride for us that the IAF is inducting these Sukhoi 30 MKI tyres into their fleet," said KM Mammen, chairman and managing director, MRF.
After six years of bagging the order and rigorous testing across terrains, climatic conditions, altitudes and quality/speeds, MRF started supplying tyres to Sukhoi 30 under the ‘Aeromuscle’ brand name. “This is a significant development in the history of the Indian defence sector’s indigenisation process, and MRF has become one of the few in the world, and the first in India, to produce and supply such kind of tyres,” Mammen pointed out.
“Ever since the government/defence sector’s indigenisation process started for sourcing components locally, particularly heavyweight aircraft like Sukhoi 30, decades-old experience and expertise in supplying tyres to different departments of military as well tyres to Chetak helicopter for the last few years, and sizeable investments, made MRF successful in supplying tyres for the Sukhoi aircraft,” said Koshy K Varghese, executive vice-president (marketing), MRF. These tyres are being produced at our Medak factory near Hyderabad, he added.
“Our tyres are at least 30-40% cheaper than the imported ones – R56,000 apiece as against R1 lakh plus,” he pointed out. “We are setting up a major dynamometer testing facility at our Medak facility with an investment of R100 crore to validate various kind of testing, including speed at 430 kmph quality. Though its the government’s decision to indigenise component sourcing, we are not waiting for the government to help us to set up this facility. It costs R1 lakh per hour to get such kind of tyres tested in China or abroad. We hope this facility will become operational in the next one year,” he said further.
To a question, Varghese said: “It’s a substantial order from IAF. We have already started supplying to them. We are not looking at numbers. Our objective is to supply and meet the defence’s demand on long-term basis...”