- India has pulled out of its 11-year collaborative programme with Russia to build a Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft
- The decision has ramifications for both the IAF and the Russian aerospace industry
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has shelved its 11-year old collaborative Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) programme with Russia following enduring differences over its developmental cost and technological capabilities.
Senior Indian officials, including National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra, recently informed a visiting Russian ministerial delegation that India was withdrawing from the programme, official sources told Jane’s on 20 April.
The Indian officials are believed to have stated that the IAF could, at a later date, ‘revisit’ the FGFA project or alternatively acquire the fully developed platform once it had been inducted into the Russian Air Force, but did not elaborate.
Industry officials said the FGFA project, in which India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was the lead developmental agency, also did not feature in talks during Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to Moscow in early April.
“The FGFA project had become an instance of too little, too late,” said military analyst and retired air marshal V K Bhatia. To pursue it any longer would not have served the IAF interests in any way as it struggles to make up fast-depleting fighter numbers, he added.
The IAF believes that the Sukhoi Su-57 (T-50 PAK-FA) fighter, which India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) designated the Perspective Multi-Role Fighter, does not meet its requirements for stealth, combat avionics, radars and sensors. Seven FGFA prototypes are currently undergoing flight-testing in Russia, but for now there is no indication as to when the platform is likely to enter series production.
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