Jan 22, 2014
India states that Russia can't deliver on Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft
So vital is the FGFA considered for the IAF's future that Defence Minister has publicly rejected any prospect of buying the American fifth generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, declaring the FGFA would suffice. In 2007, New Delhi and Moscow highlighted the fighter's criticality by signing an Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) placing the project above MoD procurement rules. Moreover, Indian scientists say the expertise gained from the FGFA will provide crucial momentum for developing an all-Indian fifth generation fighter, designated the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).
Yet, with so much riding on the FGFA, the IAF has taken aback the MoD with its complaint that it would not be good enough.
The IAF's three top objections to the FGFA are:
(a) The Russians are reluctant to share critical design information with India.
(b) The fighter's current AL-41F1 engines are inadequate, being mere upgrades of the Sukhoi-30MKI's AL-31 engines; and
(c) It is too expensive. With India paying $6 billion to co-develop the FGFA, "a large percentage of IAF's capital budget will be locked up.
While the MoD, HAL and the IAF continue discussions, Russia has gone ahead with developing a fifth-generation fighter. The Sukhoi Design Bureau has designed and done 300 test-flights of the T-50, the stealth fighter Sukhoi and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) plan to refine into the FGFA in about eight years. The Russian Air Force, which has less ambitious specifications than the IAF, plans to induct into service its own version of the T-50, the PAK-FA by 2017-18.