India should co-develop the fifth generation stealth fighter with Russia, says a panel that was appointed by the country’s defence ministry to examine a fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) project based on the PAK-FA.
The committee, headed by Air Marshal Simhakutty Varthaman (retd), has recommended India should go ahead with it in the face of reservations by the Indian Air Force, The Hindustan Times reported Thursday.
The government had constituted a committee under the Air Marshal to assess viability of building the stealth fighter with Russia. “We were given a task and we have submitted our report to the government. That’s all I can tell you,” Varthaman told the Dehi-based newspaper.
The committee also has pointed out that India would significantly gain from partnering with Russia through the transfer of technology, officials said. The four-member panel looked into various aspects of the project for around five months.
India and Russia are yet to sign a $4-billion research and development contract for the FGFA. India has already spent Rs 1,500 crore in the preliminary design stage, which was completed in June 2013 on the basis of a contract inked with Russia.
The ability to super cruise or sustain supersonic speeds in combat configuration without kicking in fuel-guzzling afterburners is a key Indian requirement. However, the IAF continues to have reservations about the project due to the high cost and the extent of technology transfer, a senior official said.
Indian military planners are hoping that the technology the FGFA project brings to India would help a programme to build an indigenous stealth fighter or the advanced medium combat aircraft. The first AMCA prototype could be built in 10-12 years.