Skip to comments.India, Russia close to PACT on next generation fighter
Posted on 01/04/2010 8:08:40 PM PST by sukhoi-30mki
India, Russia close to PACT on next generation fighter
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi January 05, 2010, 0:38 IST
Late last year, a defence ministry delegation to Sukhois flagship aircraft facility in Siberia became the first Indians to set eyes upon the next-generation fighter that is slated to form the backbone of the future Indian Air Force (IAF). In that first meeting, carefully choreographed by Sukhoi, the new fighter, standing on the tarmac waved a welcome to the Indians, moving all its control fins simultaneously.
The effect, recounts one member of that delegation, was electric. The senior IAF officer there walked silently up to the aircraft and touched it almost incredulously. This was the Sukhoi T-50, the first technology demonstrator of what India terms the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). Senior defence ministry sources tell Business Standard that after five years of haggling over the FGFAs form, capabilities and work-share a detailed contract on joint development is just around the corner.
The contract, which Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will sign with Russias United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), will commit to building 250 fighters for the IAF and an equal number for Russia. The option for further orders will be kept open. HAL and UAC will be equal partners in a joint venture company, much like the Brahmos JV, that will develop and manufacture the FGFA.
The cost of developing the FGFA, which would be shared between both countries, will be $8-10 billion (Rs 37,000-45,000 crore). Over and above that, say IAF and defence ministry sources, each FGFA will cost Rs 400-500 crore.
Sukhois FGFA prototype, which is expected to make its first flight within weeks, is a true stealth aircraft, almost invisible to enemy radar. According to a defence ministry official, It is an amazing looking aircraft. It has a Radar Cross Section (RCS) of just 0.5 square metre as compared to the Su-30MKIs RCS of about 20 square metres.
[That means that while a Su-30MKI would be as visible to enemy radar as a metal object 5 metres X 4 metres in dimension, the FGFAs radar signature would be just 1/40th of that.]
A key strength of the 30-35 tonne FGFA would be data fusion; the myriad inputs from the fighters infrared, radar, and visual sensors would be electronically combined and fed to the pilots in easy-to-read form.
The FGFA partnership was conceived a decade ago, in 2000, when Sukhois celebrated chief, Mikhail Pogosyan, invited a visiting Indian Air Force officer out to dinner in Moscow. Boris Yeltsins disastrous presidency had just ended, and Russias near bankruptcy was reflected in the run-down condition of a once-famous restaurant. But, as the IAF officer recounts, the vodka was flowing and Pogosyan was in his element, a string of jokes translated by a female interpreter.
Late that evening Pogosyan turned serious, switching the conversation to a secret project that, officially, did not even exist. Sukhoi, he confided to the IAF officer, had completed the design of a fifth generation fighter, as advanced as Americas F-22 Raptor, which is still the worlds foremost fighter. Russias economy was in tatters, but Sukhoi would develop its new, high-tech fighter if India partnered Russia, sharing the costs of developing the fighter at Sukhois plant, Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Organisation (KnAAPO).
Reaching out to India was logical for Russia. During the 1990s when thousands of Russian military design bureaus starved for funds, and a bankrupt Moscow cancelled 1,149 R&D projects Indias defence purchases had kept Russias defence industry alive, bankrolling the development of the Sukhoi-30 fighter; the Talwar-class stealth frigates; the Uran and Klub ship-borne missiles; and the MiG-21 upgrade.
But co-developing a fifth generation fighter is a different ball game, financially and technologically, and Indias MoD hesitated to sign up. Meanwhile enriched by hydrocarbon revenues, Moscow gave Sukhoi the green light to develop the FGFA, which Russia terms the PAK-FA, the acronym for Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Frontovoi Aviatsy (literally Prospective Aircraft Complex of Frontline Aviation).
Today, Russia is five years into the development of the FGFA. In November 2007, India and Russia signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement on co-developing the fighter, but it has taken two more years to agree upon common specifications, work shares in development, and in resolving issues like Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
The prototype that Sukhoi has built is tailored to Russian Air Force requirements. But the IAF has different specifications and the JV will cater for both air forces, producing two different, but closely related, aircraft. For example, Russia wants a single-seat fighter; the IAF, happy with the Su-30MKI, insists upon a twin-seat fighter with one pilot flying and the other handling the sensors, networks and weaponry.
Negotiations have resolved even this fundamental conflict. India has agreed to buy a mix of about 50 single-seat and 200 twin-seat aircraft. Russia, in turn, will consider buying more twin-seat aircraft to use as trainers. But even as both countries narrow their differences, fresh challenges lie ahead: preparing Indias nascent aerospace industry for the high-tech job of developing and manufacturing a fifth-generation fighter.
(This is the first of a two-part series on the IAFs fifth-generation fighter)
(Part II: FGFA negotiating hardball: Russia says India brings little to the table)
250 fighters for Indian alone! It sounds, on paper, as an F-22 competitor, and there will likely be a lot of after market avionics added to it by either India or Israel. I have heard complaints that the F-22’s avionics are old in design and not as capable as they ought to be.
And we only get 185 F-22s?
Relax, it's not as bad as all that. We get 187.
Actually, it is worse than that, because almost half of those aircraft are limited in how much they can be upgraded without a complete frame-up restoration.
If 187 is the congressionally mandated number of Raptors, we should sell the early birds to Japan, Australia, and Israel, and build more Block 40 aircraft for ourselves.
No real worries on that front. The Russian fighter aircraft industry is really struggling to produce even ~50 4th Generation fighters a year. It would not be unrealistic to expect Sukhoi to pump out no more than 10 of these fighters a year after 2015.
The Indian Areospace industry is roughly 30 years behind the Russian one. So even after this aircraft reaches IOC, Indian industry wouldn’t be able to indigenously manufacture this aircraft for another few decades.
The resident Chicom expert at it again!! Well poor India and Russia just ain’t as good as the glorious motherland when it comes to stealing and espionage.
What do you mean? The same limitations applies to Chinese or American fighter aircraft industries as well. Modern fighters are very complex and requires a huge industrial complex to produce.
China is the world’s 2nd largest economy and they are barely producing ~50 J-10s, ~30 J-11s aircrafts a year.
We are the world’s largest economy, and we were only producing ~30 F-22s along with another 100 or so of the F-teens every year.
Yawn-most of the time you’re spouting the praises of China.
You have taken a simple statement of fact as an attack against a country.
Your posting history is enough evidence.
I think you are just unhappy for some reason because India is several decades behind Russia in terms of Fighter technology.
And I think you are so plain insecure about any potential rivals to the PRC.
I think the world is big enough for many powers.....provided that no one gets too cocky and tries to lord over it all( that includes the U.S and China and India).
And there is only one power which proliferates to the likes of Pakistan,North Korea or Iran and it ain’t the US, India or Lesotho.
It is an amazing looking aircraft. It has a Radar Cross Section (RCS) of just 0.5 square metre as compared to the Su-30MKIs RCS of about 20 square metres.
0.5 square meters RCS for PAKFA? No way! Incorrect data!
Even experimental Sukhoi Su-47 (flying demonstrator in 1990s) had 0,3 square meter for its frontal RCS _without using_ of any radar absorbing materials! So what about PAKFA with bigger RCS? Bullshit.
Or maybe it’s RCS data with full weapons load (missiles on external pylons with big anti-ship Bramos i guess).