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India’s quest for a homegrown 5th generation fighter jet, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), has taken significant strides in recent years. This journey, however, wasn’t without its challenges. The seeds of the AMCA program were sown in 2008 when the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) received initial approval for its development.

Recognizing the need for experience in crafting such an advanced aircraft, India opted for collaboration with Russia in 2007. The plan was to co-develop a stealth fighter based on the Su-57. This joint venture, christened the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) program, faced roadblocks. The Indian Air Force (IAF) expressed concerns about the engine capabilities and overall stealth design offered by the Su-57 platform.

With India’s “Make in India” initiative gaining momentum in 2014, the FGFA program became incompatible with the nation’s self-reliance goals. This led to India’s official withdrawal from the project in 2018. Withdrawing from the FGFA program meant shouldering the entire development burden. ADA had to play catch-up, independently developing crucial technologies originally expected from the collaboration. This shift in strategy resulted in delays, but significant progress has been made.

This resulted in delays, but significant progress has been made, The AMCA’s Preliminary Design Review (PDR) was successfully completed in December 2021. A crucial milestone was reached with the completion of the Critical Design Review (CDR) for all AMCA systems in February 2023

Prototype development received a green light in March 2024, marking a significant step towards the aircraft’s realization. Developing a 5th generation fighter is a complex and resource-intensive endeavor. India faces challenges in areas like engine development and achieving true stealth characteristics.

Despite the hurdles, the AMCA program signifies India’s commitment to indigenous defense development. A successful AMCA would be a testament to the nation’s technological prowess and a major boost to its air combat capabilities.

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