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SOURCE:  ABHOY ROY / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

India walked away from a potential deal worth $15 billions for joint development of 5th generation fighter jet jointly with Russia after it was not convinced of the technology on the offer to the country and it was the right decision of the Government and Air force to protect their investments if the technology on the offer was not up to the potential and instead focus on the development of 4.5 generation local fighter jets programs like MWF -Mk2 and Tejas Mk1A .

FGFA budget which was not invested by India didn’t actually benefit India’s own 5th generation AMCA fighter aircraft program yet but it is likely that the program will remain in focus post-2020 once both MWF -Mk2 and Tejas Mk1A is cleared for production in mid-2025. IAF wants MWF-Mk2 to exceed the performance of the Mirage-2000 and wants AMCA to have avionics and electronics which far exceeds the performance of Dassault Rafale in addition to stealth.

The United States also has now jumped in and has offered India it’s 5th generation F-35 fighter jet in lieu of India not procuring S-400 Air defense system from Russia, it is yet not clear what will be terms of sale and conditions which India will need to meet for the sale to be cleared by United States Congress but on multiple occasions Indian air force has refuted rumors of any interest in the jet itself and also has denied any interest in procuring the jet from the United States thus settling even rarest of the possibility of F-35 joining IAF fleet.

Russia is again likely to focus on pushing India for a deal on the purchase of Sukhoi Su-57E once it has developed an export variant of the aircraft by end of this year, Russia is likely to play Pakistan card if it fails to crack a deal for 114 units of fighter jets under which it has offered its Mig-35 and Sukhoi Su-35 and pressure will be on India to procure small batch of 40-50 Su-57E but then IAF is yet to make any official comment on this but IAF for long has been disinterested in the capabilities of the Su-57 baseline aircraft upon which plans to develop FGFA was initially agreed upon.

So IAF has now two offers of 5th generation fighter jets which it is really not interested in and even presence of the Chinese J-31 and J-20 in PLAAF fleet is not bothering IAF much due to its own assessment which believes that the Stealth aircraft are not really match up to the 5th generation aircraft of the western caliber and has even claimed that they were able to detect them when they were in Tibetan air base near Indian border for high altitude trials.

IAF doesn’t seem to believe that PAF can acquire a credible 5th generation platform in the near future due to their economic conditions and Chinese 5th generation jets will be of credible threats that can’t be able to tackle with a fleet of Su-30 and Rafale on the eastern border. At this point of time, IAF seems better off work on fast-tracking its MWF -Mk2 and Tejas Mk1A program and later focus on the AMCA program as well.

India already has been invited to join United Kingdoms proposed Tempest stealth sixth generation fighter aircraft program and recently France too has teamed up with Germany and Spain to start work on its own sixth generation fighter aircraft program and will be eager if can they find more prospective investment partners like India joining the program.

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