SOURCE: MANJUNATH REDDDY/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Internally initiated by India’s Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in 2008, Development of India’s first 5th generation multi-role aircraft with stealth characters is yet to take off even after it had officially received Air Staff Requirements from Indian Air Force for development of 5th generation fighter aircraft way back in 2010.
For the Developers of LCA-Tejas, Development of AMCA has come as a real shocker due to much more complex and mammoth project requirements which years of LCA-Tejas experience seemed insignificant. without any technical milestone in the project to flaunt, AMCA is yet to get official full-scale clearance from the Ministry of Defence and PMO which has pushed back initial induction timeline of AMCA in IAF from 2025 to 2030-35 period.
Learning from LCA-Tejas Mistakes, PMO and IAF have been extra careful and have asked ADA to achieve a certain level of the Technical milestones in the project before construction of the first prototype and funds for the Phase-I can be granted to develop Initial aircrafts for developmental trials and evaluations.
24.2-tonne AMCA will require specific 110kN Thrust Class of engine which is not readily available in the Global market due to which GE and Eurojet both have offered to develop one specifically to meet AMCA Program requirement but India is yet to take a decision on that . Since India is yet to select an engine partner for the AMCA Program project is likely to face further delays or will use older F-414 engines.
Media reports hints that India has joined hands with French Aero-engine major Safran to develop a 110kN Thrust class engine based on India’s uncompleted Kaveri engine but it is likely that first engine to come out of collaboration is likely will be a 98-99kN Thrust Class engine which will be power HAL’s Tejas MK-1A, post this development of new uprated 110kN Thrust class engine is also been talked about which might be used to power production variants of India’s AMCA .
Some media reports also hint that India has asked French to explore collaboration in the development of new 125kN Thrust Class engine to be used on neither on AMCA or IAF’s Sukhoi-30MKI Fleet. Since New Kaveri engine is likely to make its debut by end of 2019, AMCA project will take few more years to for the project to really take off.
Indian Navy already has expressed its desire to procure Naval-AMCA for its Aircraft carriers and last year held discussions with Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and asked them to carry out flexibility studies for the development of Carrier based Naval-AMCA for operations from Indian aircraft carriers.
Delays in the development of 5th generation technology in India has also lead to the rumours of India adapting Dassault Rafale’s net-centric and integrated data fusion capability which clearly IAF is Happy about into India’s AMCA along with Indian system. If Accepted by Government, AMCA could be Dassault Rafale technology with Indigenous design and locally developed Stealth elements to cut developmental timeline of AMCA.
Since talks with Russians on the development of FGFA based on Su-57 failed to make any headways in last years several rounds of meetings and IAF still been critical of the FGFA program, Development of AMCA should take importance and hopefully, 2018 will see program being given official green light with or without technical collaboration with another country .