Joint productions of all future projects is expected to be the new norm in Indo-Russian relations after Moscow last year offered to set up manufacturing facilities in the country for joint production of defence hardware.
India and Russia agreed to set up manufacturing facilities in India for joint production of defence hardware during Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Rogozin’s state visit to New Delhi last year.
The two countries are reportedly on the brink of signing various new defence deals this year such as the contract to integrate the Brahmos cruise missile aboard the multifunctional fighter Su-30MKI, the joint development of the Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA), a $471 million contract to supply Invar Anti Tank Guided Missiles to the Indian arm and a $ 3 billion deal to procure 42 new Su–30 MKI combat aircraft and 71 Mi–17V5 medium-lift helicopters.
However, the Indian Air Force is reported to have has criticized the $6 billion project (expected to be signed soon) and has alleged the Russians would be unable to meet their promises about its performance.
An Indian newspaper, Business Standard reported that the IAF's deputy chief of air staff (DCAS) said the FGFA's engine was unreliable, its radar inadequate, its stealth features badly engineered, India's work share too low, and that the fighter's price would be exorbitant by the time it enters service.
The Indian Ministry of Defense had earlier rejected the prospect of buying the American fifth generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, declaring the FGFA would suffice. According to Indian scientists, the knowledge gained from the FGFA will help India develop an indigenous fifth generation fighter called the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).
The next step in the FGFA project is the signing the R&D phase of the project which is likely to cost $11 billion. India and Russia, in 2010, signed the preliminary design contract (PDC) worth $295 million under which Indian designers and scientists were even stationed in Russia to work out the blueprints and documentation for the fighter.
Last year, the project fell under a cloud after Russia hiked the cost of manufacturing the aircraft. The project could end up costing India over $35 billion over the next two decades from the original $30 billion for over 200 fighters.
However, HAL has reportedly proposed to surrender 30 percent of its 50 percent work share – a move that has allegedly left the Indian Air Force fuming. India has also reportedly expressed its unhappiness over the fact that it is getting only 15 percent of the research and development work share despite paying half the development cost.
The second and third prototypes are to arrive in India in 2017 and 2019 respectively and the IAF has planned to induct the fighter by 2022. In 2012, then Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, announced the IAF would buy only 144 FGFAs instead of the 214 that were originally planned.
The FGFA will be based on the Sukhoi T-50 (which has four variants) and will be developed to suit the IAFs needs.
The IAF had initially pitched for 166 single-seat and 48 twin-seat fighters but will go for only single-cockpit jets now to reduce costs as well as protect stealth features
Currently, Russia is testing several prototypes of the T-50 aircraft, which is due to enter service with the Russian Air Force after 2017.
India has expressed interest in developing some of the aircraft's computers, software, guidance systems and other systems, as it did for a similar project with Russia producing a locally-made variant of the Sukhoi Su-30MKI strike aircraft.