SOURCE: NARAYAN APTE/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
IAF is considering jumping from 4.5 gen Tejas Mk1A to 5th gen AMCA program that will mean the Tejas Mk2 program more or less will be scrapped if the IAF get to take the shot and the Ministry of Defence decides to take a back seat. AMCA will start arriving from 2035 onwards and at least three-four countries might have flown or at least demonstrated sixth-generation tech on aircraft that will enter service sometime in 2035-40.
BAE Systems-led Tempest and the Dassault Aviation-led “Future Combat Air System” (FCAS) and America’s Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) are already in the works and it also seems Russia and China will also join the bandwagon by 2035 for which these countries are developing next-generation swarming drones and a combat cloud designed to ensure information superiority.
India has been behind the curve worldwide and is still among few countries that still doesn’t operate a 5th gen fighter jet in its arsenal and also the only country in the top five air power that will have to wait till 2030 or beyond to even get their hands on the 5th generation jets when the world might have started the transition to the 5th gen tech.
India’s 5th gen AMCA Program is officially yet to take off and India will be the last country to join the 5th gen bandwagon that means it will have a considerable fleet of 5th gen jets only in 2035-45. 6th gen jets will face a challenging environment, demanding technology more advanced than what’s in use now for which it needs to excel at electronic warfare, artificial intelligence, weapons that can defeat anti-access area denial efforts that we simply don’t see happening yet in India.
Lack of vision and probably short-sighted planning by IAF will mean India will also be the last of the countries that will join the 6th gen fighter program if it ever can develop successfully a 5th gen platform first. IAF even in 2040 will be made up of 90% of 4.5 gen fighter jets probably among were few countries that will have such high units of 4.5 gen jets in its arsenal. Yes 4.5 gen fighters will not disappear not at least till 2050-60 worldwide but their strength in terms of composition in the combat fleet will be less than 40-30% in most of the airforce’s around the world as 5th gen jets take over majority of the combat fleet but that will be quite opposite in IAF.