The ambitious $10 billion Indo-Russian program for joint development and creation of fifth generation fighter aircraft, or FGFA, faces a brand new serious hurdle, as the Indian Air Force demands a discontinuation with the project.
Senior IAF leadership recently expressed apprehension towards the Ministry of Defense, claiming the proposed FGFA program with Russia does not meet desired requirements like U.S. F-35 fighter type capabilities, disclosed a senior IAF official. That official added, that “IAF is not keen to remain while using program.”
The proposed FGFA program does not meet desired stealth and cross section features over a F-35 fighter, the state run explained, thus major structural changes are essential that can not be met in the existing Russian prototypes.
FGFA also doesn’t have modular engine concept, making maintenance and serviceability of the fleet expensive and troublesome. A second service official said the modular engine concept is required for your fleet serviceability and availability of FGFA aircrafts at short notice, because it can be carried out with the user itself.
Russians have offered non-modular engines for FGFA and its maintenance as well as other relations could only be handled by the manufacturer.
Russian Embassy diplomats here were unavailable for comments.
Vaijinder K Thakur, retired IAF squadron leader and defense analyst disagreement with the Air Force assessment of capability, proclaiming that the actual Russian FGFA prototype, called Su-57, features the AL-41F1 engine. But the production variant of FGFA could be fitted using the Product 30 engine that’s 30 percent lighter, features improved thrust, and it has better fuel efficiency and fewer moving parts. That results in improved reliability and 30 % lower life-cycle cost, Thakur said.
Without having operated U.S. fighters, the IAF is hardly capable of pronounce judgment on the comparative long-term operating costs of Russian and U.S. fighters, Thakur added.
India has nominated state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd as production agency for FGFA program.
Earlier India had planned a firm order of 108 fighters and relieve $5 billion gradually over development and production.