SOURCE: TUSHKAR SHIRODKAR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG.
Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), India’s nodal design agency for the development of fighter jets in the country will be soon approaching the Government of India for official sanction for India’s AMCA 5.5gen stealth fighter jet program, estimated at the costs of 15000 crores that will come in phases. In 2018, ADA has sanctioned seed money of over 400 cores for the program to develop basic technology and for research and development purposes to demonstrate some of the technology that will find its way in the AMCA fighter jet.
Phase-I will see sanction of Full-Scale Engineering Development (FSED) program under which ADA will be in charge of developing Two Next-Generation Technology Demonstrator (NGTD) aircraft for them to be used as Test-bed for many of the technologies that will eventually go in AMCA Prototypes. The scope of FSED Phase 1 was to demonstrate the technologies so that a decision could be taken to build operational proto vehicles, at a later stage.
Phase-II will start after two years after the completion of Phase-I when both NGTD have demonstrated the basic flight characters of the aircraft and some of the technologies. The scope of the Full-Scale Engineering Development (FSED) Phase 2 program will development of Prototypes that at later stages will also include Limited Series Production (LSP) aircraft that will be the last batch of aircraft before full-scale production aircraft begins goes around 2030.
AMCA Mk1 will be powered by General Electric F414 engines that be used for both at NGTD and Prototype stage. IAF will be procuring 2 Squadrons of the Mk1 and around 6 Squadrons of the Mk2 that will be powered by locally developed higher thrust engines that will be generating 110kN Class of thrust. Newer engines will be also used to power LCA-AF Mk2 and TEDBF programs at later stages.
Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) is another program that is going on at a rapid pace the program is handled by a different design team that is relying on data that the AMCA project has generated over the years as the Navy’s backs development of a 5th gen minus deck based fighter jets for its aircraft carrier requirements. ADA has principal approval for the project and the Navy already has committed to procure around 100 jets once it enters production. ADA plans to have the first flight of the jet in 2026 and also carry out its first flight in the same year, due to which it is expected the official grant for the program will happen by end of this year or in early next year.
ADA will be approaching the Government of India for a grant of 13000 crores. TEDBF will not have any Technology Demonstrator aircraft, instead, it will have 3 prototypes since most of the technologies for the aircraft will be coming from the Tejas Mk2 and AMCA program like Radar and avionics, and engines. TEDBF will enter production by 2032 due to which it will be having a very aggressive developmental trial phase. The first Phase will see flights from normal landing strips and later aircraft will be moved to the INS Hansa base where Shore Based Test Facility will be used to mimic aircraft carrier operations to perform take-off and landing sorties. Phase-II will see take-off and landing on aircraft carriers with different weapons loads.
ADA has proposed an Air Force variant of the TEDBF that will be lighter and come minus the wing folding mechanism and no tail hook but the air force is yet to actively join the program and it seems for now it is focusing on the Tejas Mk2 and AMCA program, letting Navy take the lead on the TEDBF program.
Both AMCA and TEDBF programs are at a crucial junction of their developmental phase and wait for an official grant for the program which if granted on time will see that the program remains on the schedule.
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