Sep 7, 2014
Indian Air Force unhappy at progress of PAK-FA fifth-gen fighter
The IAF's primary objections to fighter's preliminary design features included the inadequacy of its AL-41F1 engines, its stealth features and its weapons carriage system.
Differences also emerged over the operational capability of the Byelka active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. Additional IAF concerns include the overall development cost of the aircraft, its maintainability and safety features, the sources said.
As a result, in recent months the IAF has significantly reduced the number of FGFA aircraft it plans to acquire from around 220 to 130-145. It has also dropped its requirement for 45-50 twin-seat FGFA trainers as Russia had demanded an additional USD1 billion and extended deadlines for their development.
The IAF is also annoyed over Russian reluctance to share design information on the T-50 PAK-FA -officially designated the Perspective Multi-Role Fighter (PMF) by India - despite New Delhi being an equal financial partner in its development costs.
India has so far paid USD295 million towards the preliminary design and considers the programme vital to helping the state-run Aeronautical Development Agency kick-start its indigenous fifth-generation single-seat, twin-engine Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) programme.
Officials claim Russia is unwilling even to share details of a fire that erupted aboard a prototype PAK-FA as it landed at the Zhukovsky test centre near Moscow in June. An IAF technical evaluation team at the site was reportedly not permitted access to the fire-affected platform.
Russian officials, however, have reportedly told the IAF that many of its concerns will be resolved soon. They maintain that the prototype PAK-FA's NPO Saturn AL-41FI engine is a temporary solution, meant only for the duration of flight-testing, and that a replacement power pack is under development. Similarly, the AESA radar's proficiency is being improved alongside other systems.