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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Wednesday, 25 November 2020 5.28 PM IST

Why India may never buy Russian Su-57 fighter jet despite being stealthy, 5th-Gen & a great dogfighter?

sukhoi-57

NEW DELHI: Russia has been the strongest defence partner of India and the robust ties date back to the Soviet (USSR) times. India and Russia have enjoyed an unparalleled bond with New Delhi importing an array of fighter jets, tanks, warships and other defence equipment from Moscow.

When India felt the need to develop their first fifth-generation fighter jet to counter the growing arsenal of Pakistan and China, New Delhi, expectedly, decided to partner Russia to develop one of the most advanced fighter jets on the planet.

In 2007, following the hugely successful BrahMos project to produce the medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile between India and Russia, the two nations decided to join hands again with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) partnering with Moscow based Aerospace Juggernaut Sukhoi to produce a fifth-generation fighter, then known as the PAK-FA T-50.

However, with New Delhi needing a more sophisticated, powerful two-seat variant with improved stealth characteristics, supercruise-capable engines and more powerful 360-degree AESA radar, both allies decided to opt for the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), aimed at developing an improved variant of Moscow’s most advanced fighter jets – the Sukhoi-57.

Under the joint program which is also known as the Perspective Multi-role Fighter (PMF), a promise of $6 billion for research and development was made by India out of which $295 million were directly transferred in 2010. The original additional estimate for the production of over 144 such stealth fighters was $30 billion.

However, things didn’t go as envisaged by both New Delhi and Moscow.

Both nations decided to call-off the FGFA, with India deciding to put an end to the partnership after becoming increasingly frustrated and disappointed with the progress of the project from Russia’s end as well the major doubts surrounding the capabilities of the Su-57.

As a result, India decided to manufacture the fifth-generation fighter aircraft on its own under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan initiative which stresses on the need for the nation to be self-reliant and find solutions within its national boundaries. However, New Delhi’s decision is believed to have significant ramifications for both countries.

Under the “Make in India” mission for promoting a “self-reliant India”, Modi has gone ahead with the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) program, after seeing the United States, Russia and France going forward to develop their respective next-generation aircraft.

Additionally, there were reports that a decision was taken at the “highest levels” in order to “not repeat the mistakes” of the entire Sukhoi-30MKI jet acquisition programme from Russia, which cost India Rs 55,717 crore without any tangible assistance in developing indigenous fighter jets.

So, despite Russian pressure to ink the long-pending final R&D contract for the FGFA, India wanted to know whether it will get good value for the estimated $25 billion it will spend to induct 127 of these single-seat jets.

The two countries, incidentally, had inked the FGFA inter-governmental agreement way back in 2007, which was followed by a $295 million preliminary design contract in 2010 before the negotiations stalled.

India laid down two essential prerequisites for the FGFA project, apart from examining its entire cost-effectiveness. One, there should be extensive technology transfer, including the “source codes”, to ensure India can in the future upgrade the fighter with the integration of new weapons on its own.

Second, it should directly help the indigenous FGFA project called the advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA), the preliminary design work for which is now underway, as was earlier reported by TOI.

Russia has been the strongest defence partner of India and the robust ties date back to the Soviet (USSR) times. India and Russia have enjoyed an unparalleled bond with New Delhi importing an array of fighter jets, tanks, warships and other defence equipment from Moscow.

When India felt the need to develop their first fifth-generation fighter jet to counter the growing arsenal of Pakistan and China, New Delhi, expectedly, decided to partner Russia to develop one of the most advanced fighter jets on the planet.

In 2007, following the hugely successful BrahMos project to produce the medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile between India and Russia, the two nations decided to join hands again with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) partnering with Moscow based Aerospace Juggernaut Sukhoi to produce a fifth-generation fighter, then known as the PAK-FA T-50.

However, with New Delhi needing a more sophisticated, powerful two-seat variant with improved stealth characteristics, supercruise-capable engines and more powerful 360-degree AESA radar, both allies decided to opt for the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), aimed at developing an improved variant of Moscow’s most advanced fighter jets – the Sukhoi-57.

Under the joint program which is also known as the Perspective Multi-role Fighter (PMF), a promise of $6 billion for research and development was made by India out of which $295 million were directly transferred in 2010. The original additional estimate for the production of over 144 such stealth fighters was $30 billion.

However, things didn’t go as envisaged by both New Delhi and Moscow.

Both nations decided to call-off the FGFA, with India deciding to put an end to the partnership after becoming increasingly frustrated and disappointed with the progress of the project from Russia’s end as well the major doubts surrounding the capabilities of the Su-57.

As a result, India decided to manufacture the fifth-generation fighter aircraft on its own under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan initiative which stresses on the need for the nation to be self-reliant and find solutions within its national boundaries. However, New Delhi’s decision is believed to have significant ramifications for both countries.

Under the “Make in India” mission for promoting a “self-reliant India”, Modi has gone ahead with the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) program, after seeing the United States, Russia and France going forward to develop their respective next-generation aircraft.

Additionally, there were reports that a decision was taken at the “highest levels” in order to “not repeat the mistakes” of the entire Sukhoi-30MKI jet acquisition programme from Russia, which cost India Rs 55,717 crore without any tangible assistance in developing indigenous fighter jets.

So, despite Russian pressure to ink the long-pending final R&D contract for the FGFA, India wanted to know whether it will get good value for the estimated $25 billion it will spend to induct 127 of these single-seat jets.

The two countries, incidentally, had inked the FGFA inter-governmental agreement way back in 2007, which was followed by a $295 million preliminary design contract in 2010 before the negotiations stalled.

Moreover, India had also been unsatisfied with the fighter jet lacking a modular engine, leading to fears that the turbofans would rather have to be shipped to Russia for maintenance than within the country’s boundaries.

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TAGS: SU-57 FIGHTER, RUSSIA, INDIA, PAKISTAN, CHINA, BRAHMOS PROJECT, HAL, PAK-FA T-50, AESA, PERSPECTIVE MULTI-ROLE FIGHTER, NEW DELHI AND MOSCOW.
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