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Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa speaking at Indian Air Force’s annual press conference refused to confirm or deny on recent media speculation that Air Marshal S Varthman committee panel which was set up by Ministry of Defence has sent a positive report and has asked government to go ahead and sign a contract for jointly developing the much-delayed fifth-generation fighter aircraft with Russia .

Dhanoa also confirmed that Indian Air Force has sent its own report to the Ministry of Defence but again refused to say what recommendation was made by the air force and said that content of the report is classified.

A report prepared by India today last month had said that Indian Air Force (IAF) is not in favour of acquiring the 127 fifth-generation fighter aircraft from Russia due to the “very high cost” involved in the project and It, in turn, wants to back a DRDO Make in India project which it is planning to develop a 5th generation fighter aircraft called Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) by 2030.

India already has spent close to $300 million (Rs 2,000 crore) on the preliminary design phase and will be further required to spend $6.7 billion as the development cost and also procure each aircraft at $135 million each for the 127 planes.

Dhanoa’s blunt refusal to confirm or deny the content of the FGFA report submitted by Varthman committee panel and IAF’s own internal report will only add more fuel to the fire of media speculation in coming months if the final agreement with Russia is not signed very soon.



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