SOURCE: DEEPAK HILORI/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
After nearly four years after India walked out of the joint venture to develop Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) based on the Russian Su-57 fighter jet, the AMCA program Chief for the first time has confirmed that the major bone of contention was that the Russians had refused to provide India the computer source code that could have allowed India to carry out upgrades to the aircraft with local technology without any Russian assistance.
AMCA program Chief claims in an interview with ” The week” that lengthy negotiation with the Russians on the terms of the joint venture also delayed India’s AMCA program since IAF was busy framing its air staff requirements for the FGFA program. ADA claims that Su-57 was also found to be lacking in stealth characters and it seemed that the Sukhoi bureau focused more on maneuverability than on stealth, by failing to achieve the perfect balance that is required in the 5th gen program.
India was impressed by the Joint venture on the development of PJ-10 aka BrahMos was expecting FGFA to be developed in similar manners that could have seen workshare for HAL to be around 25% since the majority of the investment was supposed to come from India, their was believe that India will also get most of the Transfer of Technology for the program.
Russian deception started soon after when HAL workshare was reduced considerably and later initial project estimates ballooned as Russia tried to apply the same tricks that it did in the development of the Su-30MKI program where India bore the majority of the investment in the program and rich dividends came to Russia as most of the technological development that Russia had claimed was not even developed.
Russian plans were simple, India will invest in the program and also buy the product and Russia was selling variants of the jets to other countries without paying any royalties to India, thus completing a half-baked product that Russia wanted to become mature using Indian money.
India got a sniff of deception at play by the Sukhoi Bureo when Indian pilots were not even allowed to evaluate them, It was strange because, in the soviet-era, Indian pilots got access to top-secret fighter jet programs of that era like Mig-29, Mig-23, Su-25, and Su-27 even before the world knew this programs existed.
IAF was given limited access to the PAK-FA Prototype and in one demo flight that was allowed to be witnessed by the IAF team ended in the Prototype being caught in a fire sustaining major damages to the aircraft just after landing at Zhukovsky airbase near Moscow in 2014 and Russians even refused to provide a briefing about the cause of the accident.
The second line of deception came when FGFA’s customization cost was going out of budget. It was estimated that India could require to procure close to 140-160 jets just to make the program viable to be made in India, plus ToT and other costs when added could have made these jets over $140 million per unit that could have eaten up the whole budget of the MMRCA tender and could have also meant the death of India’s AMCA program.
IAF later noticed reluctance from its other main operator that was Russian air force in adopting these jets in its service, it is reported that IAF used its connections to get access to internal documents of the Russian air force to know what it was not onboard its own 5th gen program only to be confirmed that cost and other technical deficiency meant even they were not keen on these jets them selfs that could have made IAF largest operator of this jets which meant it had to bear additional costs to fix any teething issues that are always noticed in newer jets that are not inducted by its OEM air force.
After India walked out of the program, no country joined the program and the jets is yet to enter mass-scale production, the Russian air force had ordered an evaluation squadron and later placed orders for 75 jets under pressure but it is not good enough for the Russian Federation since it means it will never recover the cost of its investment with such small orders and it has also failed to find an export customer for the jet.
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