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A recent report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) has highlighted a growing concern for India’s air defense capabilities. The report, published in February 2023, stated that China’s production of the J-20A Mighty Dragon, its fifth-generation stealth fighter jet, is outpacing that of the United States’ F-22 Raptor.

The F-22 Raptor was the first operational fifth-generation fighter aircraft globally. However, China’s J-20A program has seen a rapid increase in production, with estimates suggesting China already surpassed the US in the number of operational J-20s by 2023. According to IISS, China had over 150 J-20As by February 2023. Aviation magazine Scramble further reported that China might have built as many as 250 J-20s by the end of 2023, exceeding previous production projections. This rapid expansion of China’s stealth fighter fleet poses a significant challenge to regional airpower dynamics.

The growing tension in India-China relations makes China’s military advancements particularly worrisome for India. Additionally, in August 2023, Turkey announced that Pakistan would be joining its TF-X fighter program, codenamed KAAN. This collaboration has the potential to provide Pakistan with next-generation fighter jets, further complicating the strategic landscape for India.

The situation demands a swift and decisive response from India. The AMCA program needs to be expedited, ensuring it reaches operational status as soon as possible. Any bureaucratic hurdles or delays must be eliminated to maintain India’s strategic edge in the region. The development of a robust fifth-generation fighter fleet is no longer an option, but a critical necessity for India’s national security.