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$8.63-billion advanced fighter aircraft project with Russia put on ice (India)
Business Standard ^ | April 20, 2018 | Ajai Shukla

Posted on 04/20/2018 8:42:48 PM PDT by sukhoi-30mki

The proposal for India and Russia to jointly develop an advanced fighter — the eponymous Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) — has been formally buried. Business Standard has learnt that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval conveyed the decision to a Russian ministerial delegation at a “Defence Acquisition Meeting” in end-February.

Doval and Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra, who attended the meeting, asked the Russians to proceed alone with developing their fifth-generation fighter. They said India might possibly join the project later, or buy the fully developed fighter outright, after it entered service with the Russian Air Force.

New Delhi and Moscow have discussed the FGFA since 2007, when they agreed that Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) would partner Russia’s Sukhoi Design Bureau (Sukhoi) in developing and manufacturing the fighter. In 2010, Sukhoi flew the fighter, called Perspektivny Aviatsionny Kompleks Frontovoy Aviatsii, or “Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation” (PAK-FA). Seven prototypes are currently in flight-testing.

Russia said the PAK-FA met its needs, but the India Air Force (IAF) wanted a better fighter. So HAL and Sukhoi negotiated an $8.63-billion deal to improve the PAK-FA with the IAF’s requirements of stealth (near-invisibility to radar), super-cruise (supersonic cruising speed), networking (real-time digital links with other battlefield systems) and airborne radar with world-beating range. In all, the IAF demanded some 50 improvements to the PAK-FA, including 360-degree radar and more powerful engines.

Defence ministry sources who played a direct role in negotiations with Russia say much of this money was earmarked for Indian production facilities for manufacturing 127 FGFAs, and for India’s work share in developing advanced avionics for the fighter. It also included the cost of four PAK-FA prototypes for IAF test pilots to fly.

Now, the IAF has backed away from the FGFA because it argues the PAK-FA — which Sukhoi has been test-flying since January 2010 — is not stealthy enough for a fifth-generation combat aircraft.

Aerospace analysts who support the PAK-FA reject this argument. They point out that the US Air Force F-22 Raptor, was built with an extraordinary degree of stealth, but that proved to be counterproductive, since it resulted in high maintenance and life-cycle costs. Burned by that emphasis on stealth alone, US designers de-emphasised stealth while building their latest fifth-generation fighter, the F-35 Lightning II. Instead, they focused on building its combat edge through better sensors, highly networked avionics and superior long-range weapons.

The cancellation of the FGFA project has far-reaching implications for the IAF, for which this was once its high-tech future fighter. United Progressive Alliance (UPA) defence minister AK Antony had ruled out buying the F-35 Lightning II, arguing that India would have the FGFA to meet its fifth-generation fighter needs.

Indian aerospace designers also cited the FGFA experience as essential learning for developing the indigenous fifth generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), which the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) is pursuing.

Now, the FGFA’s burial sets the stage for the IAF to eventually acquire the F-35 Lightning II, which comes in air force as well as naval variants. Indian military aviation, once overwhelmingly dependent upon Russian fighters, helicopters and transport aircraft, has steadily increased its purchases from America. On Tuesday, appearing before a US Senate panel for his confirmation hearings, Admiral Philip Davidson — nominated as the top US military commander in the Indo-Pacific, said the US should aspire to “break down” India’s historical dependence upon Russia.

The IAF has been split down the middle on the FGFA. Broadly, flying branch officers of the “French school”– whose careers have centred on the Mirage and Jaguar fighters — have tended to oppose the FGFA. Meanwhile, officers from the “Russian school”, their careers grounded in the MiG and Sukhoi fleet, have supported the FGFA.

Opponents of the FGFA have even argued that the project would duplicate and hinder the indigenous AMCA project. However, last July, an experts group headed by Air Marshal (Retired) S Varthaman, set up to consider this question, ruled that there were no conflict lines between the FGFA and AMCA. It stated that the technological expertise that would be gained from working with Russian experts would benefit the AMCA project.

In co-developing the FGFA, HAL was expected to deploy its experience in working with composite materials, which were to replace many of the metal fabricated panels on the PAK-FA. India was also expected to participate in designing the 360-degree active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. In addition, the experience of flight-testing the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft would be refined by flight-testing a heavier, more complex fighter.

These challenges were expected to imbue Indian engineers with genuine design skills, of a far higher magnitude than the lessons learnt from licensed manufacture.

In addition, the FGFA’s foreclosure means the loss of $295 million that India sunk into its “preliminary design phase” between 2010 and 2013.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Russia
KEYWORDS: aerospace; fgfa; india; pakfa; russia

1 posted on 04/20/2018 8:42:48 PM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
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To: sukhoi-30mki

India’s procurement of military aircraft seems to be an ongoing tale of botched deals which don’t even have the virtue of failing quickly, but instead are dragged out over years or decades. There was the decision to buy French Rafales, which was apparently drastically scaled back, and now this. What is happening to India’s air force while all of this is going on? Do they even have a credible air force?


2 posted on 04/20/2018 9:00:27 PM PDT by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: sukhoi-30mki

Perhaps the greatest victories of the F-22/35 was forcing other countries to deplete their military budgets on their own 5th Generation boondoggles.


3 posted on 04/20/2018 9:04:33 PM PDT by Mr. Blond
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To: sukhoi-30mki

Might be the final nail in the coffin of the PAK FA/T-50/SU-57. The graphic above shows full production in 2016, but I don’t believe that full production has or will happen. What do they have at this point, 10 “prototype aircraft” after the crash of one? Not a single production aircraft built?


4 posted on 04/20/2018 9:05:01 PM PDT by ETCS
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To: AnotherUnixGeek
This should answer your question about the Indian Air Force.
5 posted on 04/20/2018 9:22:58 PM PDT by Army Air Corps (Four Fried Chickens and a Coke)
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To: Army Air Corps

They use women bras for skycaps.


6 posted on 04/20/2018 10:24:49 PM PDT by DIRTYSECRET (urope. Why do they put up with this.)
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To: Army Air Corps

How much money do we give to India for their military?


7 posted on 04/20/2018 11:36:33 PM PDT by Davy Crocket
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To: Davy Crocket

$0 according to this map https://securityassistance.org/fact_sheet/us-foreign-military-financing-2017


8 posted on 04/21/2018 1:11:38 AM PDT by Krosan
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To: sukhoi-30mki

Good news!

Winning! ;-)


9 posted on 04/21/2018 5:03:42 AM PDT by PreciousLiberty (Make America Greater Than Ever!)
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To: Krosan

Well if we gave them zip then they can buy from whomever they want.. It’s their money.


10 posted on 04/21/2018 10:51:39 AM PDT by Davy Crocket
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To: Krosan
$33 billion to India. Try this map.

Foeign Aid Map

11 posted on 04/21/2018 11:24:27 AM PDT by CodeToad (The Democrats haven't been this pissed off since the Republicans took their slaves away.)
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To: CodeToad

The shading map indicates millions; not billions;

It’s not military aid.


12 posted on 04/21/2018 7:59:26 PM PDT by mikeIII
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