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India’s dream of a domestically-built fifth-generation fighter jet, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), remains grounded, despite four years of discussions with major Private aerospace companies. The Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) model, envisioned as a public-private partnership to drive the program, seems to be facing significant roadblocks.

The SPV model was designed to leverage private sector expertise and efficiency while maintaining government oversight. It proposed a majority stake for private companies, entrusting them with not only airframe, avionics, and accessory development but also jet assembly, after-sale support, and even export marketing rights. This ambitious plan, however, has met with resistance.

India’s private aerospace sector, despite showing initial interest, seems hesitant to take the lead. Many companies cite their lack of experience managing fighter jet assembly lines as a primary concern. Others, particularly those involved in the 114-fighter Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) tender, prefer to wait and gain experience with 4.5th generation jets before committing to the AMCA.

American and French giants like Boeing and Dassault, along with Swedish Saab, have expressed interest in partnering with India on the AMCA. However, their participation appears contingent on their success in the MRFA tender. This suggests a potential lack of independent commitment to the AMCA program.

The AMCA program is crucial for India’s airpower independence. Finding a way to overcome these hurdles and leverage both private and public sector expertise is essential. Whether through a revamped SPV model, strategic international partnerships, or a combination of both, India needs to determine the most effective approach to make its fifth-generation fighter jet dream a reality.

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