The India Air Force (IAF) is getting ready to work with related agencies for producing Indian made fifth-generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) which is a stealth fighter aircraft.
The new air chief RKS Bhadauria has ruled out importing a fifth-generation aircraft in the foreseeable future. Interacting with the media in New Delhi, Bhadauria said “For the fifth-generation aircraft we are not going to import rather we will give our support and take action in pushing for the indigenous AMCA for the IAF.”
On the question regarding the modernisation of the IAF fleet, the new chief said that the focus is on indigenisation besides acquiring critical weapons and spares to maintain operational preparedness.
Both India and Russia have been working on the joint project to develop Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) since 2007 and have signed a preliminary $295 million design contract for the co-development in 2010.
Significantly, the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), a unit of the Indian Defense Research Organization has been designing and developing the AMCA for almost a decade, and the ADA officials have indicated that the first prototype will be available only by 2025.
Although the IAF is not sure how long the AMCA will take to be finally produced, it has decided to support the programme and is planning the modernisation of its fleet accordingly.
Global aerospace giants including the Swedish Company SAAB and the US-based Boeing Company have offered to help India in the AMCA programme.
In an earlier interaction with the Financial Express Online, Dan Gillian, vice president of F/A-18 and E/A-18 programs at Boeing, had said that the India-US relations were placed uniquely and that the company is working on setting up a facility for producing next-generation aircraft. And, had added that if India was to consider the F/A-18 Block III and it will be manufactured in India, it will help in the AMCA programme.
Earlier, Ola Rignell, Chairman and Managing Director, Saab India Technologies had also offered to support indigenous fighter programmes including AMCA and had even offered to collaborate on the project.
Besides the IAF, even the Indian Navy is awaiting for the twin-engine AMCA to be ready which will replace the Light Combat Aircraft `Tejas’ naval version for the aircraft carrier. The twin-engine is preferred by the Indian Navy as it will give a major thrust to take off from the ski-jump carrier.