The UK Ministry of Defense officials on the sidelines of Aero India 2019 will be briefing India about their new ‘Tempest’ Stealth Fighter Project which they claim will be 6th generation fighter which they are keen to develop jointly with India but the program and the circumstances around it has too many similarities with Russia’s FGFA program based on Su-57 which India recently pulled out.

The UK is increasingly facing uncertain political and economic future and their generous offer to India is more to do with what Russians wanted from India to make Sukhoi Su 57 fighter program a commercially viable project and four basic criteria laid down by the UK MOD suggests the same that the whole reasons behind offer to India were to calm down the domestic concerns about the program and to ensure the project becomes viable.

There is Stalk similarities between what the UK Government basically is asking from India what Russians were asking from India for the FGFA Program.

Funding: Like the FGFA program with Russia, the UK government wants India to fund the program and most likely it India will need to cough up more for any India specific changes. Technology Demonstrator alone will require $2.6 billion of Investment and further funding requirements can be only disclosed when the project hits the floor but even with a conservative estimate, it will be upwards of $10-12 billion for each partner that’s way higher then FGFA program which India pulled out from.

Export Customer: By roping in India, UK wants to tap the large export customer for their product even before it enters production and India will need to commit anything from 150-200 jets for the whole Indian investment to make it a commercial success.

Work-share: India’s contribution in the program is likely to remain minimalist at best and like seen in Russia’s FGFA program, most of the design and technology development aspect will remain with the UK. In fact, the UK already has hinted that India’s role will largely be limited to the development of software codes which requires thousands of hours of coding, which requires massive talent pool of software engineers and programmers which India has.

TOT: Transfer of Technology is likely to be stricter then FGFA program since the whole British aerospace system is now more or less modeled after the US aerospace system which will control every aspect of the program. India will be offered to license assemble them locally in India but it will be under strict supervision of their developing agencies.

Conclusion: If India wants to avoid the repeat of mistakes done on Russia’s FGFA program then India needs to ask the UK officials to come up with a proper road map of the program and also deliberate in India to see if the program is viable and works best for the country.

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