After an internal panel gave its go ahead, the Defence Ministry will take a final decision on the much delayed project for the co-development and production of the 5th Gen Fighter Aircraft with Russians.
The committee, which set up to look into the nitty gritty relating to the project and its repercussions on the ongoing indigenous fighter programme, has submitted its report to the MoD, sources in the south block have confirmed.
The committee, headed by Air Marshal S Varthman has understood to have given its green signal for the signing of the full design and development agreement with the Russians.
India and Russia have been working on crucial FGFA projectunder a fifty-fifty partnership.
The co-developed advanced stealth aircraft FGFA is expected to compete with the US F-22 Raptor, presently the world’s only fifth generation fighter, and the under-development F-35 Lightning-II, at an estimated cost of $35 billion.
The Preliminary Design contract for the project was signed in 2010 and the two sides have been locked in long drawn in consultations to freeze the design of this highly advance fighter.
As per US classifications, aircrafts in service from 1980 to 2010, or based on the designs of the 70s are categorised as 4th generation aircrafts. However, 5th generation aircrafts are more advanced with better stealth capabilities and higher speed potential in comparison to the former. The FGFA is being developed under Sukhoi’s PAK FA project. The Indian aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is its Indian partner.
The 30 tonne fighter jet will have very advanced avionics, stealth to increase survivability and enhanced lethality.
So far, the Indian side has put aside $250 million for the Preliminary Design Contract phase. India will be responsible for developing software for on-board computer systems, aircraft self-defence systems, and a host of other important components.
While India is developing its own two seater version of the FGFA, Russia’s version is single seater jet. The IAF alone plans to acquire 214 of the combat jets and the option to acquire more has been kept open. The IAF is looking for 166 single seater and 48 twin-seater versions of the aircraft.