SOURCE: VISHAL KARPE / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
When India confirmed to Russia that it is no longer Interested in pursuing joint development of 5th generation fighter jet program based on its Su-57 fighter. Back Home Air Chief B.S.Dhanoa had some pretty serious explaining to do to the media on why Indian Air Force decided and even recommended Ministry of Defence (MOD) to pull out from such a prestigious program.
In one to one Interaction with media, Dhanoa, when asked how IAF plans to counter Chinese developed 5th generation fighter which recently has been deployed in airbases in Tibet towards India, gave a sharp and prompt reply saying ” Radars of our Su’s (Sukhoi-30MKI) can detect them ” and ended this discussion and in subsequent questions dismissed rumours of India showing any interests in procurement of American 5th generation F-35 fighter jets .
IAF Chief seems to have driven a clear message within the organization and to agenda driven media personals that IAF is not only is walking out of FGFA program but is also not interested in any other 5th generation program as peddled in Indian media. Big boost seems to have come with his open support to the indigenous Advance Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) program wholeheartedly even though the program is still in D&D phase.
Speaking further on AMCA he said that ” All Lessons learned from the LCA Programme will be incorporated into the AMCA Programme to ensure speedy timelines. Realities goals have also been set to ensure that the programme moves as envisaged”.
Walking out of the Indo-Russian FGFA 5th generation fighter jet program certainly, has brought the focus back on indigenous AMCA program and with IAF and DRDO agreeing to take help from International vendors in incorporating equipment and systems which will come from with separate tender floated to procure 110 fighter jets. Roadmap seems much more clear and well throughout.
ADA already has started the ground process to make AMCA Project reality and already has issued tenders for Vendors to manufacture Technology Demonstrator for AMCA Fighter jets in next 4 years of the signing of contracts. State-owned Aerospace giant HAL along with Private Aerospace firms, including International Aerospace company has shown interest in becoming a major partner for the programme.
At Aero India 2019, ADA is likely to showcase a full-scale final design of AMCA and many International aero-engine companies have already shown interest in participating in the program to meet power requirements of Production variant of the AMCA fighter aircraft.
IAF is not only counting big on AMCA which will be Multi-Role Medium category aircraft which will go on to replace Mirage-2000s and Mig-29 from 2040 onwards but also is very much keen on making it a perfect aircraft which will meet its requirements from the word go without any shortfalls in its performance.
With IAF placing an order for 83 Tejas MK-1A and has shown interest in procuring 201 Tejas MK-2 when it hits production in mid-2025. IAF is no more reculant customer which it was in the past who was always fuzzy about local indigenous products and active partition in major combat jet programs like MK-1A, MK-2, AMCA and Ghaatak UCAV Project also shows its will to change it customer-centric mindset to product developer centric mindset to get what it wants.
AMCA programme will not only be a game changer for India’s Aerospace Defence sector but will be instrumental in creating that perfect Aerospace ecosystem which India was always missing when it started development of LCA-Tejas Program and had to suffer delays due to lack of infrastructure in the country to sustain the program at a good pace. LCA-Tejas Program has created that infrastructure in the country, AMCA will further cement that Aerospace ecosystem within India.