HAL chairman and managing director R. Madhavan recently speaking to the Indian media jumped into the 4.5 vs 5 gen debate that is going in the country and said that the development of the LCA MkII and AMCA programs will continue in parallel as 4.5gen fighter jets will continue to be the backbone of the Indian Air force (IAF) even though some countries have joined the 5th generation bandwagon but continue to maintain 4.5gen fighter jets.

Madhavan argued that the 4.5gen fighters are here to stay and many countries including the U.S continue to procure them despite the easy availability of the 5th generation fighter jets. Madhavan also argued that the 5th gen fighters are not only expensive to manufacture but also compromises on the weapon load due to which operate a whole fleet of 5th gen fighters will never happen.

India has been often criticized for initiating three 4.5gen fighter programs in the age of 5th gen fighters. HAL is perhaps the only aerospace company in the world that is working on the Tejas Mk1A variant, LCA MkII, and TEDBF variant for the Navy that are still classified as 4.5gen fighter due to which company and IAF have been under attack from foreign lobby since IAF has refused to procure any 5th gen fighters from abroad nor join any Joint venture that has been offered to it by allies.

IAF has not shown any urgency to procure or induct any 5th gen fighter jets and DRDO that is working on the AMCA often calls it a 5.5gen fighter due to advancement over the year over the technology that was first classified as 5thgen in the early ’90s. AMCA is the first aircraft that is designed to have incorporated some of the technology that will be defined in the 6th gen fighter that is still in its infant stage and will take nearly 20 years to mature and enter production.

Many first-world airforce’s have shown interest in continuing operating 4.5gen jets till 2050 with regular upgrades to the aircraft while 5th gen aircraft’s operational and procurement costs continue to drop over the last few years. Many countries have decided to skip 5th gen fighters altogether and rather are working on their 6th gen fighter programs due to high research and development costs that were required to perfect some of the tech required for such programs. India won’t skip 5th gen tech nor will give up on the 4.5gen at least till 2050-60 so the 4.5gen fighter aircraft must continue to get upgraded avionics and weapons that can hold a fight even against a 5th gen platform.

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