ADA AMCA - Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft

janme

Member
Apr 17, 2020
146
91
India
Hi,
Does India has full scale RCS measurement test facilities for AMCA? If not then how ADA is planning to make up for it.
 

randomradio

Senior Member
Nov 30, 2017
7,808
5,226
India
Are you talking about this?. This is an outdoor RCS measurement facility, Is this facility dynamic or only static.

I meant this full scale anechoic chambers like these.
As of now only information about static systems have been released. They are big, bulky and easily visible. But we are sure to have dynamic testing equipment as well, but it's difficult to spot for obvious reasons. Dyanmic RCS measurement is cheaper anyway.

We also have anechoic chambers for 1:1 testing.

No one can build a stealth aircraft without any of this.
 

suryakiran

Team StratFront
Dec 1, 2017
657
736
Bangalore
As of now only information about static systems have been released. They are big, bulky and easily visible. But we are sure to have dynamic testing equipment as well, but it's difficult to spot for obvious reasons. Dyanmic RCS measurement is cheaper anyway.

We also have anechoic chambers for 1:1 testing.

No one can build a stealth aircraft without any of this.
There is one in NAL. There is one in IISc Bangalore. IISc one is supposedly the biggest in India
 

lcafanboy

Senior member
Dec 22, 2017
1,322
1,103
Bangalore
Emerging Technologies for Sixth-Generation Combat Aircraft
Anil Chopra Anil Chopra
1 hour ago

anil chopra, air power asia, sixth generation fighters
Sixth Generation Aircraft, Image Credit: Military and Commercial technology

The Indian Air Force‘s (IAF) Balakot strikes and the air combat that followed in response to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) riposte on 27th March 2019, rekindled interest in fighter aircraft technologies and air combat capabilities. Combat aviation has not only become the most preferred means of prosecution of war but has seen the fastest growth of technology. Fighter aircraft are designed for air-to-air combat against other aircraft, and to bomb or attack surface targets. World War II featured fighter combat on a larger scale than any other conflict to date. During the invasion of Poland and France Luftwaffe’s air superiority played major role in German victories. In the Battle of Britain use of radars resulted in advantage RAF. In WW II strategic bombing was the main attack mission. Concept of aerial fighter escorts to bomber/strike missions thus evolved. Light fighters proved very successful in WW II. Their special features were agility (speed, manoeuvrability), accurate weapon delivery, capability to operate in all weathers and at night, and be secure from enemy air and surface threat. As technology grew, the pilot was not just flying the aircraft accurately and safely, but was also a weapon systems manager and operator. With aircraft and systems performance increase, technological helped the pilot reduce work-load to be able to take on more tasks. After the advent of jet age, aviation community started classifying jet fighters by “generations”. There are no official definitions, and they just represent stages in the development of fighter design, performance capabilities, and technological evolution. Most air forces currently operate fourth generation aircraft. There are a few fifth generation aircraft flying, and the sixth generation aircraft are on the drawing boards and technologies are evolving.

Initial Fighter Aircraft Generations

The first generation of jet fighters comprised the initial, subsonic jet fighter designs introduced late in World War II, many had un-swept wings and only guns as the principal armament. American F-86 Sabre and Soviet MiG-15s were first with swept wings and near transonic performance. Grumman F9F Panther was the first aircraft with an afterburner engine. Early versions of Infra-red (IR) air-to-air missiles (AAM) and radar guided missiles came up in 1950s. The second generation fighters evolved by mid 1950s and had better aerodynamic design (Swept and Delta wings), propulsion systems (afterburner) and used aluminum alloys and were able to break the sound barrier. Radars became small enough to be carried aboard smaller aircraft and greatly aided the pilot in target acquisition and weapon aiming. IR missiles became common place. Radar-guided (RF) missiles were introduced with ability of beyond-visual-range (BVR) combat. BVR allowed building the concept of the interceptor. However, based on experience in Korea and Vietnam, the third generation aircraft that came around mid-1960s believed that combat would still devolve around close-in dogfights using IR missiles. Analog avionics began replacing the older cockpit instrumentation and started taking-over part of the pilot functions. Flight Control surfaces like canards, slats and blown flaps greatly improved turning performance. Thrust vectoring evolved for Harrier vertical and short take-off and landing. Medium-range RF AAMs gave greater “stand-off” ranges. New techniques for Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) were introduced. US Navy established its famous TOPGUN fighter weapons school. Advanced Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) and Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) began. Terrain avoidance radar made it possible to fly very low level at night. Air-to-surface missiles and Laser Guided Bombs (LGBs) increased stand-off weapon delivery distances. Power-plant reliability increased and jet engines became “smokeless” to make it harder to sight aircraft at long distances. Variable-geometry wings were introduced on aircraft like F-111 and MiG-23.Very high speeds of aircraft necessitated development of ejection seats for safe exit during emergency. Ejection seats are nowadays designed for use at zero-speed on ground. Quick response G-suits allow sustaining higher ‘G’ forces.

Fourth Generation Plus

Fourth-generation fighters strengthened the trend towards multirole configurations. Concept of ‘energy-manoeuvrability’ impacted aircraft designs that required performing ‘fast transients’ – quick changes in speed, altitude, and direction – as opposed to relying mostly on high speed. It called for small lightweight aircraft with higher thrust-weight ratio. The F-16, MiG-29 and Mirage-2000 evolved. Fly-By-Wire (FBW) flight controls became possible due advances in computers and system integration, and this allowed relaxed static stability flight and in turn agility. Analog systems began to be replaced by digital flight control systems in late 1980s. Likewise, Full Authority Digital Engine Controls (FADEC) to electronically manage power-plant performance was introduced. Both allowed carefree manoeuvring by the pilot. Pulse-Doppler fire-control-radars added Look-down/shoot-down capability. Head-up displays (HUD), hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls, and multi-function displays (MFD) allowed better situational awareness and quicker reactions. Composite materials like bonded aluminum honeycomb structures and graphite epoxy laminate skins helped reduce aircraft weight. Improved maintenance design and procedures reduced aircraft turnaround time between missions and generated more sorties. Another novel technology was stealth using special ‘low-observable’ materials and aircraft design techniques to reduce detect-ability by the enemy’s sensors, particularly radars. The first real stealth designs were Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk attack aircraft in 1983 and the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit in 1989. Military budget cuts after Cold war, and high funding requirements of the fifth generation fighter, resulted in a term called the 4.5th generation fightersduring 1990s to 2005.This sub-generation saw advanced digital avionics, newer aerospace materials, modest signature reduction, and highly integrated systems and weapons. These fighters operated in network-centric environment. Key technologies introduced included BVR AAMs; GPS-guided weapons, solid-state phased-array radars, helmet-mounted sights (HMDS), and improved secure, jamming-resistant data-links. A degree of super-cruise ability (supersonic without afterburner) was introduced. Stealth characteristics focused on front-aspect radar cross section (RCS) reduction through limited shaping techniques. Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale and Saab JAS 39 Gripen were in this category. Many 4th generation aircraft were also upgraded with new technologies. Su-30MKI and Su-35 featured thrust vectoring engine nozzles to enhance maneuvering. Most of them are still being produced and evolving. It is quite possible that they may continue in production alongside fifth-generation fighters due to the expense of developing the advanced levels of technology. 4.5th generation fighter aircraft are now expected to have AESA radar, high capacity data-link, enhanced avionics, and ability to deploy advanced armaments.

Air Superiority as a Concept

Air superiority fighter aircraft are meant for entering and seizing control of enemy airspace as a means of establishing complete dominance/supremacy over the enemy’s air force. They usually operate under the control/co-ordination of Airborne Early warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft. Aircraft like US Navy’s F-14 and USAF’s F-15 were built to achieve air superiority from design & development stage. Both later had multi-role variants. Soviets/Russians developed MiG-29 and Su-27 around same time. Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale though multi-role fighters but both have air-superiority missions. F-22 Raptor, Su-30 variants, Su-35, Chinese J-11 and J-15 were also air-superiority aircraft.

Fifth Generation Fighters

The fifth generation was ushered in by the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor in late 2005. These aircraft are designed from the start to operate in a network-centric combat environment, and to feature extremely low, all-aspect, multi-spectral signatures employing advanced materials and shaping techniques. They have multifunction AESA radars with high-bandwidth low-probability of intercept. IRST and other sensors are fused in for Situational Awareness and to constantly track all targets of interest around the aircraft’s 360 degree bubble. Avionics suites rely on extensive use of very high-speed integrated circuit (VHSIC) technology and high-speed data buses. Integration of all these elements is claimed to provide fifth-generation fighters with a “first-look, first-shot, first-kill capability”. In addition to its high resistance to ECM, they can function as a “mini-AWACS”. Integrated electronic warfare system, integrated communications, navigation, and identification (CNI), centralized ‘vehicle health monitoring’, fibre-optic data-transmission, and stealth are important features. Maneuver performance is enhanced by thrust-vectoring, which also helps reduce takeoff and landing distances. Super-cruise is inbuilt. Layout and internal structures minimize RCS over a broad bandwidth of frequencies. To maintain low signature primary weapons are carried in internal weapon bays. Stealth technology has now advanced to where it can be employed without a trade-off with aerodynamics performance. Signature-reduction techniques include special shaping approaches, thermoplastic materials, extensive structural use of advanced composites, conformal sensors, heat-resistant coatings, low-observable wire meshes to cover intake and cooling vents, heat ablating tiles on the exhaust troughs and coating internal and external metal areas with radar-absorbent materials and paints. These aircraft are very expensive. F-22 costs around US$150 million. Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightening II fighters will cost on average US$ 85 million due to large scale production. Other fifth-generation fighter development projects include Russia’s Sukhoi PAK FA, now SU-57. India is also developing the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA). China’s 5th generation fighter Chengdu J-20 is flying since January 2011 and combat units started inducting in early 2018. The Shenyang J-31 first flew in October 2012. The program has received government funding and is being sought after by both Chinese air force the PLAAF and Naval Aviation PLANAF.

Light Vs Heavy Fighters

There is a continued decision conflict about light vs heavy fighters. Light aircraft are relatively simple with only essential features, and lower cost. Light fighters generally feature a high thrust-to-weight ratio, high manoeuvrability, and high reliability. Intentional simplicity also allows buying larger numbers to out-number the enemy in the air under combat conditions. Modern single engine light fighters include F-16, JAS-39 Gripen, and Tejas LCA, all being significantly lower in cost. Larger fighters provide the opportunity for more technology, longer range radars, and heavier weapons, but are much more expensive and often unaffordable.

Unmanned Fighters

Unmanned Aircraft technologies are already proven, and it is clearly emerging that the future is unmanned. World is at a real time of transition. There are some who see the JSF as the last manned fighter/bomber. Solar Powered Unmanned Aerial Vehicles(UAVs) are already flying. Dual use optionally manned aircraft are under development. Unmanned aircraft are already taking-off and landing by themselves including on the moving aircraft carrier (Northrop GrummanX-47B). Autonomous air refueling has been tested. Lockheed Martin’s UCLASS drone ‘Sea Ghost’ looks rather like a stealth bomber and is expected to carry 1,000-pound class weapons. Russians had modified MiG 21 aircraft to fly remotely in 1990s and used them as targets for weapon trials. USAF has already modified F-4s and F-16s to fly unmanned. In France, Dassault leads a multi nation delta wing UCAV ‘Neuron’ of the size of Mirage 2000. UK has a Strategic Unmanned Air Vehicle (SUAVE) program ‘Taranis’. This will be a supersonic autonomous stealth bomber with intercontinental range. USA is also working on Strike Bomber that is likely to be optionally manned.

Evolving Technologies

Today technologies are offering enhanced capabilities that are driving operational employment and tactics. Artificial Intelligence (AI), smart structures, and hybrid systems will dictate the future. Demand for streaming high-quality data requires bandwidth, which involves innovating sensor/processing systems. Network-centric payload processing units enable onboard data fusion prior to sending to digital links. Gallium Nitride (GaN) is a semiconductor material that is more efficient, easier to cool, and improves reliability for radars. Any system must be designed with aim for maintaining a competitive advantage in an austere budget environment. The Passive Aero-elastic Tailored (PAT), a uniquely designed composite wing will be lighter, more structurally efficient and have flexibility compared to conventional wings. This wing will maximize structural efficiency, reduce weight and conserve fuel. Hypersonic cruise, fuel cell technologies, hybrid sensors, improved human-machine interface using data analytics and bio-mimicry, combination of materials, apertures and radio frequencies that ensure survival in enemy territory are under development. Things will be build faster, better and more affordably, using 3D printing yet ensuring quality and safety standards. Additive 3D manufacture creates a world with spare parts on demand, faster maintenance and repairs, more effective electronics, and customized weapons. The development of a hypersonic aircraft would forever change ability to respond to conflict. Nano-materials will control sizes, shapes and compositions, and significantly reduce weight yet create stronger structures for air and spacecraft, yet drive down costs.

Future Weaponry

Future weaponry would utilize scramjets for the production of faster missiles. Despite failing its recent tests, Boeing’s X-51A Wave-rider scramjet remains in development as it hopes to reach hypersonic speeds approaching Mach 6, a speed at which a missile could not be stopped by conventional air defence technology. Continued experiments with DEW and lasers, used for defensive as well as offensive measures, delivering effects at the speed of light, are also likely to shape precisely what sixth generation fighters are equipped with. New aircraft will be as much about reusable weaponry (lasers) as it is about expendable weaponry. The solid-state laser systems defensively create a sanitized sphere of safety around the aircraft, shooting down or critically damaging incoming missiles and approaching aircraft with the laser turrets. Even attacking targets on the ground, such as individual people, with pinpoint precision, or shooting down ballistic missiles and other traditional targets are possibilities. USAF is developing a new air-to-air missile, dubbed the Small Advanced Capabilities Missile (SACM) for 2030s. SACM would promise an improved solid rocket motor having synergized control enabled by combined aero, attitude control and thrust vectoring. The missile will have improved ‘high off bore sight’ for rear hemisphere kills and ‘lower cost per kill.’ The missile would also incorporate energy optimizing guidance, navigation and control. The Miniature Self-Defense Munitions (MSDM), will enhance future platforms self-defense capability, without impacting the primary weapon payload. A sixth-generation missile could replace AMRAAM. A survivable, long-range missile with combined air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities is being evolved. Range would be a big factor to counter potential adversaries with Chinese PL-15. It will be multiband, broad spectrum – which aids it in survivability and reaching the target. DARPA’s the triple target terminator (T3) program envisions combined capabilities of Raytheon’s AIM-120 and AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM). No aircraft is invisible, and using standoff weaponry early in an air campaign to open up weaknesses in an enemy’s air defense will be required even for 5th generation fighter aircraft to operate in the area without assuming excess risk.

Heavy Stealth Revolution

Fighters like the F-35 and F-22 may be stealthy, but their support assets, like aerial tankers—KC-135R, KC-10A, KC-46A and AWACS are not. USAF needs ‘heavy stealth revolution’ for low observable tankers, transports, bombers and ‘flying sensor and communications trucks’, as these will be targeted. USAF could adapt the new stealth bomber design for the stealth tanker role. It will also give ability to insert special operations teams deep behind enemy lines via a stealthy high-altitude penetrating transport.

Future Pilot Support Systems

Many new technologies have improved pilot endurance for long flights. On-board Oxygen generation (OBOX) now obviates the need to have oxygen cylinders and increases endurance. Smart drugs and hybrid supplements increase endurance, stamina, physical strength, and alertness levels and regulate the sleep and waking hours and pilot could keep awake for days. Modified genes will convert fat into energy so as to last for long flights. A trans-dermal nutrient delivery system will provide just enough nourishment to keep the body going. Pilot’s physical and mental state will be monitored by sensors to check overload, physiological stress and the same transmitted to ground controller. Light-weight helmets with visor displays for integrated information from all sensors for weapon cueing and shoot command. Fire-resistant bullet-proof clothing is in use. Voice activated commands for multiple aircraft functions. Secure data-links aided commands will allow radio silence. Research is being done for contact lens-mounted displays that could focus information from drones and satellites directly into eyeballs, and helmets that could enable to communicate telepathically. Next-generation helmets will pick up vibrations from the skull and transmit sound directly into the head instead of using traditional microphone-earpiece combine. To fit the body contours, flexible display screens would be of easy to bend synthetic material other than glass.

U.S. Sixth Generation Fighter Programs

US Air Force (USAF) and US Navy (USN) have been defining their own requirements of a sixth generation fighter. US DoD began the sixth generation fighter quest in October 2012. DARPA began a study to try to bridge the USAF and USN concepts. Next-generation fighter efforts will initially be led by DARPA under the “Air Dominance Initiative” to develop prototype X-plane. Sixth generation technologies have been evolving for several years. USAF and USN will each have variants focused on their mission requirements. USAF has announced that it will pursue “a network of integrated systems disaggregated across multiple platforms” rather than a “sixth generation fighter” in its Air Superiority 2030 plan. Dubbed the “Next Generation Tactical Aircraft”/”Next Gen TACAIR”, the USAF seeks a fighter with “enhanced capabilities in areas such as reach, persistence, survivability, net-centricity, situational awareness, human-system integration and weapons effects. The future system will have to counter adversaries equipped with next generation advanced electronic attack, sophisticated integrated air defense systems, passive detection, integrated self-protection, directed energy weapons (DEW), and cyber attack capabilities. It must be able to operate in the anti access/anti-denial environment that will exist in the 2030–50 timeframe. It is expected to use advanced engines with Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology for longer ranges and higher performance which should be ready by 2030 when fighters would be ready. The newer engines could vary their bypass ratios for optimum efficiency at any speed or altitude. That would give an aircraft a much greater range, faster acceleration, and greater subsonic cruise efficiency. The ability to super-cruise may not be a critical requirement, but it will likely be able to with this engine type. USAF and USN have common approach on the engine. The engine companies involved are General electric (GE) and Pratt & Whitney (P&W).

The Rand Corporation has recommended That USAF and USN run separate programs to avoid mission compromise, and that all joint programs in the past turned out more expensive. A USAF General remarked that if next-generation air dominance capabilities came from pressing “a single button on a keyboard that makes all our adversaries fall to the ground” it would be acceptable. Concepts from the Air Force and industry have so far revolved around supersonic tailless aircraft. The aircraft will feature AI as a decision aid to the pilot, similar in concept to how advanced sensor fusion is used by the F-22 and F-35. Stealth is ‘incredibly important’ for the next-generation F-X fighter of USAF. USN’s F/A-XX fighter might not be so focused on survivability as to sacrifice speed and payload.

USAF intends to follow a path of risk reduction by prototyping, technology demonstration, and systems engineering work before creation of an aircraft actually starts. The sixth-generation strike capability not as just an aircraft, but a system of systems including communications, space capabilities, standoff, and stand-in options. USAF fighter maybe larger and more resembling a bomber than a small, maneuverable traditional fighter. Small size, high speed, and maneuverability may be less relevant and easier to intercept. Fighter significantly larger can rely on enhanced sensors, signature control, networked situational awareness, and very-long-range weapons to complete engagements before being detected or tracked. Larger planes would have greater range that would enable them to be stationed further from a combat zone, have greater radar and IR detection capabilities, and carry bigger and longer-range missiles. Heavily armed combat aircraft could link itself to the development of the Long Range Strike Bomber. It would include stealth against low or very high frequency radars like those of the S-400 missile system, which would mean airframe with no vertical stabilizers. Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works division has revealed a conceptual next-generation fighter design which calls for greater speed, range, stealth and self-healing structures. Northrop Grumman is looking at a supersonic tailless jet, something never created before due to complexity; it may also be optionally manned.

Other Sixth Generation Programs

France and Germany have awarded the first-ever contract – a Joint Concept Study (JCS) – to Dassault Aviation and Airbus for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme. The JCS is based on High Level Common Operational Requirements Document (HLCORD) signed in 2018. It identifies the preferred baseline concepts for its major pillars such as the manned Next Generation Fighter (NGF), Remote Carriers (RCs) and a System of Systems approach with associated next generation services. Both countries want to secure European sovereignty and technological leadership in the military aviation sector for the coming decades beyond 2040. The two-year study should complete by February 2021. FCAS is one of the most ambitious European defence programs of the century.

The BAE Systems Tempest is a proposed stealth fighter aircraft concept to be designed and manufactured in the United Kingdom for the Royal Air Force. It is being developed by a consortium consisting of the UK Ministry of Defence, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo and MBDA, and is intended to enter service from 2035 replacing the Eurofighter Typhoon. Approximately $2.66 billion will be spent by the British government on the project by 2025. Tempest will be a sixth-generation fighter incorporating several new technologies. BAE Systems is planning to approach India for collaboration for the design and manufacture of the Tempest. Tempest could be optionally manned and have swarming technology to control drones. It will incorporate AI deep learning and possess DEWs. Tempest will feature an adaptive cycle engine and virtual cockpit shown on a pilot’s helmet-mounted display.

China is still evolving its J-20 and J-31. Some Chinese sixth generation aircraft (J-XX) is referred to as Huolong (Fire Dragon). But as on date China has serious limitations on radar, avionics, and engine technologies. China planned to field it in the 2025-2030 time frame. In Russia, the FGFA Sukhoi Su-57 is just being inducted, and work is on for its sixth generation aircraft Mikoyan MiG-41. Japan’s Mitsubishi F-3 sixth-generation fighter would be based on concept of aircraft informed, intelligent and instantaneous, technologies for which are under testing on the Mitsubishi X-2 Shinshin test-bed aircraft.

Action India

India is still evolving technologies for LCA design. India’s fiffh generation aircraft, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), is still on drawing board and will require foreign help for many technologies. There are a handful of major aircraft engine manufacturers in the world. China and India are still evolving their engine design and manufacturing abilities. India has been dependent on Russian, French and American engines for long. DRDO’s Kaveri engine has faced major hiccups for nearly three decades. It has now been decided to seek Safran (Snecma) help to recover the nearly dying project. India also needs help in AESA radars, EW systems, modern weapons, actionable Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other advanced avionics. It is best to take collaborative approach and use economic muscle and high military systems requirements to seek transfer of technology. India needs to think ahead, lest we get left behind again.
 

randomradio

Senior Member
Nov 30, 2017
7,808
5,226
India
The speculative portions of first flight is a complete mess, but the rest of the article is good.


Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft – Time To Get Act Right India
Anil Chopra
Anil Chopra
23 hours ago
anil chopra, air power asia, fifth generation fighter

Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft – Options India. Picture Credit: militarywatchmagazine.com

The Indian government just cleared the development of the twin engine deck-based fighter (TEDBF) for Indian Navy. The development phase is expected to cost between Rs 7,000 and Rs 8,000 Crore. First Flight is tasked to be done in six years. Indigenisation is clearly the focus, and rightly so. Meanwhile just last year the air combat between Indian Air Force’s (IAF) MiG 21 Bison and Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) F 16, had brought the debate of IAF modernization back in focus. IAF is down to an all-time low of 30 fighter squadrons vis-a-vis the authorized 42. The 36 Rafale aircraft to induct shortly are of 4th generation plus class. The US Air Force (USAF) has had a fifth generation aircraft in F 22 Raptor since it formally entered service in December 2005. The USAF and many of their friendly air forces across have inducted the variants of the latest fifth generation fighter the F 35 Lightning II. Home grown fifth generation fighters have also been inducted by Russia and China. There are others who are already developing the next generation fighters. In fact the sixth generation fighters are on the drawing boards of the leading aerospace countries and individual technologies are being developed and tested in laboratories. IAF is in the process of initiating to buy 114 new fighters which will still be of the 4th generation plus class. The logical next step for the world’s 4th largest air force, IAF is to develop or procure a fifth generation fighter. India’s venture to develop its Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) jointly with Russia ran aground because of cost and technical differences. Where must India go from here is the question?
Russian FGFA. Picture Credit: defenseworld.net
Air Dominance and Air Superiority Aircraft

The one who controls the air and space controls the planet. Aerospace craft will aim to seize control establishing dominance/supremacy over the enemy’s assets. Even if aerospace supremacy cannot be established, a “degree of dominance” in the air-space bubble in a given area and given time-space without prohibitive interference by opposing air forces will be desired. Air superiority fighter aircraft are meant for entering and seizing control of enemy airspace. They operate under the control/co-ordination of Early Warning and Control satellites and aircraft with increased Artificial intelligence (AI). Aircraft like US Navy’s F-14 and USAF’s F-15 were built to achieve air superiority from design &development stage. Both later had multi-role variants. Soviets/Russians developed MiG-29 and Su-27 around same time. Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale though multi-role fighters but both have air-superiority missions. F-22 Raptor, Su-30 variants, Su-35, Chinese J-11 and J-15 are also air-superiority aircraft.
Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. Picture Credit: Wikipedia
4.5 Generation Fighters

For some time the world has been classifying the fighter aircraft based on capabilities and technologies. Most modern air forces possess fourth-generation fighters which strengthened the trend towards multirole configurations. Concept of ‘Energy-Maneuverability’ impacted aircraft designs that required performing ‘fast transients’ – quick changes in speed, altitude, and direction – as opposed to relying mostly on high speed. It called for small lightweight aircraft with higher thrust-weight ratio. The F-16, MiG-29 and Mirage-2000 evolved. Fly-By-Wire (FBW) flight controls became possible due advances in computers and system integration, and this allowed relaxed static stability flight and in turn agility. Analog systems began to be replaced by digital flight control systems in late 1980s. Likewise, Full Authority Digital Engine Controls (FADEC) to electronically manage power-plant performance was introduced. Both allowed carefree maneuvering by the pilot. Pulse-Doppler fire-control-radars added Look-down/shoot-down capability. Head-up displays (HUD), hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls, and multi-function displays (MFD) allowed better situational awareness and quicker reactions. Composite materials like bonded aluminum honeycomb structures and graphite epoxy laminate skins helped reduce aircraft weight. Improved maintenance design and procedures reduced aircraft turnaround time between missions and generated more sorties. Another novel technology was stealth using special “low-observable” materials and aircraft design techniques to reduce detect-ability by the enemy’s sensors, particularly radars. The first real stealth designs were Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk attack aircraft in 1983 and the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit in 1989. Military budget cuts after Cold war, and high funding requirements of the fifth generation fighter, resulted in a term called the 4.5th generation fighters during 1990s to 2005. This sub-generation saw advanced digital avionics, newer aerospace materials, modest signature reduction, and highly integrated systems and weapons. These fighters operated in network-centric environment. Key technologies introduced included BVR air-to-air missiles (AAM); GPS-guided weapons, solid-state phased-array radars, helmet-mounted sights (HMDS), and improved secure, jamming-resistant data-links. A degree of super-cruise ability (supersonic without afterburner) was introduced. Stealth characteristics focused on front-aspect radar cross section (RCS) reduction through limited shaping techniques. Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale and Saab JAS 39 Gripen were in this category. Many 4th generation aircraft were also upgraded with new technologies. Su-30MKI and Su-35 featured thrust vectoring engine nozzles to enhance maneuvering. Most of them are still being produced and evolving. It is quite possible that they may continue in production alongside fifth-generation fighters due to the expense of developing the advanced levels of technology. 4.5 generation fighter aircraft are now expected to have AESA radar, high capacity data-link, enhanced avionics, and ability to deploy advanced armaments.
Sukhoi Su 35. Picture Credit: Wikipedia
Fifth Generation Fighters
Fifth-Generation fighter aircraft are the latest jet fighters encompassing the most advanced features. These aircraft are designed from the start to operate in a network-centric combat environment, and to feature extremely low, all-aspect, multi-spectral signatures employing advanced materials and shaping techniques. They have multifunction AESA radars with high-bandwidth low-probability of intercept. Infrared Search and Track (IRST) and other sensors are fused in for Situational Awareness and to constantly track all targets of interest around the aircraft 360 degree bubble. Avionics suites rely on extensive use of very high-speed integrated circuit (VHSIC) technology and high-speed data buses. Integration of all the elements could provide fifth-generation fighters with a “first-look, first-shot, first-kill capability”. In addition to its high resistance to ECM, they can function as a “mini-AWACS”. Integrated electronic warfare system, integrated communications, navigation, and identification (CNI), centralized “vehicle health monitoring”, fibre-optic data-transmission, and stealth are important features. Maneuver performance is enhanced by thrust-vectoring, which also helps reduce takeoff and landing distances. Super-cruise is inbuilt. Layout and internal structures minimize RCS over a broad bandwidth of frequencies. To maintain low signature primary weapons are carried in internal weapon bays. Stealth technology is advanced to where it can be employed without a trade-off with aerodynamics performance. Signature-reduction techniques include special shaping approaches, thermoplastic materials, extensive structural use of advanced composites, conformal sensors, heat-resistant coatings, low-observable wire meshes to cover intake and cooling vents, heat ablating tiles on the exhaust troughs and coating internal and external metal areas with radar-absorbent materials and paints. These aircraft are very expensive. F-22 costs around US$150 million. Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightening II fighters will cost on average US$ 90 million due to large scale production. Other fifth-generation fighter development projects include Russia’s Sukhoi PAK FA; a variant of the same was to have been India’s Fifth-Generation Fighter-Aircraft (FGFA). India is also developing the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA). China’s 5th generation fighter Chengdu J-20 is flying since January 2011 and may be deployed by 2019. The Shenyang J-31 first flew in October 2012. Japan is also exploring technical feasibility to produce fifth-generation fighters. Turkish TAI TFX is being developed with BAE Systems. These aircraft will operate in a ‘Combat Cloud’ along with future UAVs. Japanese next-generation fighter would be based on concept of aircraft informed, intelligent and instantaneous. Japan already conducted the first flight of the Mitsubishi X-2 Shinshin test-bed aircraft for this project. The Mikoyan MiG-41 is another next-generation jet fighter interceptor under development. France and Germany announced they would jointly develop a new combat aircraft to replace the Eurofighter, Tornado and Rafale. It is likely be a twin-seat “system of systems” aircraft acting as a combat platform as well as controlling UCAV’s. UK is committing to a next generation fighter program to potentially replace the Eurofighter Typhoon post-2030, however, the Eurofighter Typhoon has since had its intended service life extended to around 2040. Some Chinese publications are talking of a sixth generation aircraft. Referred to as Huolong (Fire Dragon). But as on date China has serious limitations on radar, avionics, and engine technologies.
Chegdu J 20. Picture Credit: thedrive.com
Evolving Other Technologies

Today technologies are offering enhanced capabilities that are driving operational employment and tactics. Artificial Intelligence (AI), smart structures, and hybrid systems will dictate the future. Demand for streaming high-quality data requires bandwidth, which involves innovating sensor/processing systems. Mission computer systems and network-centric payload processing units enable onboard data fusion prior to sending to digital links. Thermally efficient, high-performance computing onboard the aircraft is essential. Next-generation avionics would be smaller, more efficient and capable of operating under extreme conditions. Gallium Nitride (GaN) is a semiconductor material that is more efficient, easier to cool, and improves reliability for radars. Any system must be designed with aim for maintaining a competitive advantage in an austere budget environment. The Passive Aero-elastic Tailored (PAT), a uniquely designed composite wing will be lighter, more structurally efficient and have flexibility compared to conventional wings. This wing will maximize structural efficiency, reduce weight and conserve fuel. Hypersonic cruise, fuel cell technologies, hybrid sensors, improved human-machine interface using data analytics and bio-mimicry, combination of materials, apertures and radio frequencies that ensure survival in enemy territory are under development. Things will be build faster, better and more affordably, using 3D printing yet ensuring quality and safety standards. Additive 3D manufacture creates a world with spare parts on demand, faster maintenance and repairs, more effective electronics, and customized weapons. The development of a hypersonic aircraft would forever change ability to respond to conflict. Nano-materials will control sizes, shapes and compositions, and significantly reduce weight yet create stronger structures for air and spacecraft, yet drive down costs.
Passive Aero-elastic Tailored (PAT), a uniquely designed composite wing. Picture Credit: aero.engin.umich.edu
Next Generation American Fighter
US Air Force (USAF) and US Navy (USN) have been defining their own requirements of a sixth generation fighter. Currently, the United States has two projects. The US Air Force’s ‘Penetrating Counter-Air’, a long long-range stealth fighter to escort stealth bombers. The USN is pursuing a similar program called the Next Generation Air Dominance, to complement the smaller Lockheed F-35. The timelines for aircraft in development like the F/A-XX program are now around 2030–2035. So far, Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and Northrop-Grumman have unveiled sixth-generation concepts.
US DoD began the sixth generation fighter quest in October 2012. DARPA began a study to try to bridge the USAF and USN concepts. Next-generation fighter efforts will initially be led by DARPA under the “Air Dominance Initiative” to develop prototype X-plane. USAF has announced that it will pursue “a network of integrated systems disaggregated across multiple platforms” rather than a “sixth generation fighter” in its Air Superiority 2030 plan. Dubbed the “Next Generation Tactical Aircraft”/”Next Gen TACAIR“, the USAF seeks a fighter with “enhanced capabilities in areas such as reach, persistence, survivability, net-centricity, situational awareness, human-system integration and weapons effects. The future system will have to counter adversaries equipped with next generation advanced electronic attack, sophisticated integrated air defense systems, passive detection, integrated self-protection, directed energy weapons (DEW), and cyber attack capabilities. It must be able to operate in the anti access/anti-denial environment that will exist in the 2030–50 timeframe. USAF and USN have common approach on the engine using the Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology for longer ranges and higher performance. The newer engines could vary their bypass ratios for optimum efficiency at any speed or altitude. That would give an aircraft a much greater range, faster acceleration, and greater subsonic cruise efficiency. The engine companies involved are General electric (GE) and Pratt & Whitney (P&W).
Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology Picture Credit: GE Avitaion
USAF intends to follow a path of risk reduction by prototyping, technology demonstration, and systems engineering work before creation of an aircraft actually starts. The sixth-generation strike capability not as just an aircraft, but a system of systems including communications, space capabilities, standoff, and stand-in options. USAF fighter maybe larger and more resembling a bomber than a small, maneuverable traditional fighter. Fighter significantly larger can rely on enhanced sensors, signature control, networked situational awareness, and very-long-range weapons to complete engagements before being detected or tracked. Larger planes would have greater range that would enable them to be stationed further from a combat zone, have greater radar and IR detection capabilities, and carry bigger and longer-range missiles. It would include stealth against low or very high frequency radars like those of the S-400 missile system, which would mean airframe with no vertical stabilizers. Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works division has revealed a conceptual next-generation fighter design which calls for greater speed, range, stealth and self-healing structures. Northrop Grumman is looking at a supersonic tailless jet.
Northrop Grumman’s Supersonic Tailless Air Vehicle. Picture Credit; wpafb.af.mil
Other Sixth Generation Programs
France and Germany have awarded a Joint Concept Study (JCS) contract
to Dassault Aviation and Airbus for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program. The baseline concepts is an optionally manned Next Generation Fighter (NGF), and a System of Systems approach with associated next generation services. The BAE Systems Tempest is a proposed stealth fighter aircraft concept to be designed and manufactured in the United Kingdom for the Royal Air Force. It is being developed by a consortium consisting of the UK Ministry of Defence, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo and MBDA, and is intended to enter service from 2035 replacing the Eurofighter Typhoon. Approximately $2.66 billion will be spent by the British government on the project by 2025. BAE Systems is planning to approach India for collaboration for the design and manufacture of the Tempest. Tempest could be optionally manned and have swarming technology to control drones. It will incorporate AI deep learning and possess DEWs. Tempest will feature an adaptive cycle engine and virtual cockpit shown on a pilot’s helmet-mounted display.
BAE Systems Tempest. Picture Credit: aero-mag.com
China is still evolving its J-20 and J-31. Some Chinese sixth generation aircraft (J-XX) is referred to as Huolong (Fire Dragon). But as on date China has serious limitations on radar, avionics, and engine technologies. China planned to field it in the 2025-2030 time frame. In Russia, work is on for its sixth generation aircraft Mikoyan MiG-41. Japan’s Mitsubishi F-3 sixth-generation fighter would be based on concept of aircraft informed, intelligent and instantaneous, technologies for which are under testing on the Mitsubishi X-2 Shinshin test-bed aircraft. Given the enormous expenses and effort devoted to working out the kinks in the fifth-generation, the Sixth-generation fighter programs are still conceptual. Many technologies are under development in parallel. At the earliest, sixth-generation fighters may be visible in the 2030s or 2040s, and may see further conceptual change by then.
Mikoyan MiG-41. Picture Credit: nationalinterest.org
Sukhoi/HAL FGFA

The Sukhoi/HAL Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) or Perspective Multi-role Fighter (PMF) was a 50:50 (funding, engineering, and intellectual property rights) joint venture between India and Russia. It was a derivative project of the Russian Sukhoi Su 50 (later Su-57) for the Russian Air Force. The completed FGFA was to include a total of 43 improvements over the Su-57, including stealth, super-cruise, advanced sensors, networking and combat avionics. The Indian version would have been a two-seater with pilot and co-pilot or weapon systems Operator (WSO). Though India withdrew from the FGFA programme in 2018, but also hinted that the project could be resumed at a later date, when the Su-57 is fully operational in the Russian Air Force. Russia also claimed in August 2018 that the FGFA program was not cancelled and India was still in dialogue with Russia. The FGFA is a stealth multirole air superiority fighter. The joint development deal would have each country invest $6 billion and develop over 8–10 years. The preliminary design cost was $295 million and was to will be completed within 18 months. The Russian version will be a single-pilot fighter. The single-seat fighters were to be assembled in Russia, and HAL was to assemble two-seaters. FGFA was to be fitted with the next generation air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons, have the NO79 AESA radar, use 2 Saturn 117 engines (about 147.1 kN thrust each). The Saturn 117 is an advanced version of the AL-31F. There were to be 6 external (on the wing) hard points and 6 internal. HAL’s work share was to include critical software including the mission computer, navigation systems, most of the cockpit displays, the counter measure dispensing (CMD) systems and modifying Sukhoi’s prototype into fighter as per the requirement of the IAF.
Sukhoi PAK FA. Sukhoi-HAL FGFA. Picture Credit: pngwing.com
FGFA was scheduled to be certified by 2019, following which the series production was to start. But there was apprehension that the FGFA would significantly exceed its $6 billion budget, as the crucial avionics systems would cost extra. Cost was estimated at $100 million per fighter in addition to the development costs. By October 2012, India had cut its total purchase size to 144 aircraft. Russia also admitted to huge delays and cost overruns. There were also accusations that HAL had contributed only 15% of the research and development work, but provided half the cost. There were also questions about maintenance issues, the engine, stealth features, weapon carriage system, safety and reliability. By 2016, Indian interest in the project was fading after Russia cut back their own purchases. In 2017, Russians suddenly demanded seven billion dollars that the Indians could not afford. India then began evaluating the need for FGFA in light of the price increase and progress on the HAL AMCA. There was also a proposal of an upgraded Su-35 with stealth technology, as a more affordable alternative to the FGFA. On 20 April 2018, it was reported that India had left the project. It was asserted that India was not satisfied with the capabilities of the Su-57. However, India did not rule out the possibility of re-launch of the FGFA.
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II
The F-35 is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather, fifth generation, stealth multirole fighters designed to perform ground-attack and air-superiority missions. The F-35A is the conventional takeoff and landing variant that would normally be of interest to any air force. The F-35 had emerged as the winning design of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. The United States principally funds F-35 development, with additional funding from other US allies. These funding countries generally receive subcontracts to manufacture components for the aircraft. Several other countries have ordered, or are considering ordering, the aircraft. The F-35 first flew on 15 December 2006. The USAF formed its first squadron in August 2016. In 2018, the F-35 was first engaged in combat by the Israeli Air Force. The United States plans to buy 2,663 F-35s, which will provide the bulk of the crewed tactical airpower of the USAF, Navy, and Marine Corps in coming decades. 520 had been delivered by 07 March 2020. Deliveries of the F-35 for the U.S. military are scheduled until 2037, with a projected service life up to 2070. The unit cost of the aircraft is around US$ 90 million.

HAL-ADA AMCA
The HAL-ADA Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is a fifth generation aircraft being designed by ADA and will be manufactured by HAL. It will be a twin-engine, stealth, all weather multirole fighter. AMCA feasibility study and the preliminary design stage have been completed. It will combine super-cruise, stealth, advanced AESA radar, super maneuverability and advanced avionics. It is meant to replace the Jaguar, MiG-27 and Mirage 2000 aircraft of the IAF, and complement the SU-30 MKI, Rafale and Tejas in the IAF, and MiG 29K in the Navy. In October 2008, IAF had asked ADA to prepare a detailed project report for a next generation medium combat aircraft. In April 2010, IAF issued the ASQR for the AMCA, which placed the aircraft in the 25-ton category. The first flight test of the prototype aircraft was scheduled to take place by 2017. DRDO proposed to power the aircraft with two GTX Kaveri engines. In October 2010, the government released RS 100 crore to prepare feasibility studies. Meanwhile in November 2010 itself ADA sought Rs 9,000 crore to fund the development which would include two technology demonstrators and seven prototypes. In 2013 ADA unveiled a 1:8 scale model at Aero India 2013. The AMCA design will have shoulder-mounted diamond-shaped trapezoidal wings, and an all-moving Canard-Vertical V-tail with large fuselage mounted tail-wing. It will be equipped with a quadruple digital fly-by-optics control system using fibre optic cables. The reduced radar cross-section (RCS) would be through airframe and engine inlet shaping and use of radar-absorbent materials (RAM). AMCA will have an internal weapons bay, but a non-stealthy version with external pylons is also planned.
Low-speed and supersonic wind tunnel testing and Radar Cross Section (RCS) testing was reportedly completed by 2014, and project definition phase by February 2014. The Engineering Technology & Manufacturing Development (ETMD) phase was started in January 2014 after HAL Tejas attained IOC, and it was announced that the AMCA will have first flight by 2018. At Aero India 2015, ADA confirmed that work on major technological issues, thrust vectoring, super-cruising engine, AESA radar and stealth technology was going full swing. Russia was to support for the development of Three-Dimensional Thrust Vectoring (TDTVC), AESA Radar and stealth technology. Saab, Boeing and Lockheed Martin also offered to help in key technologies. AMCA will initially fly with two GE-414 engines. Eventually it is planned to be powered by two GTRE, 90 kN thrust, K 9 or K10 engines which are successor to the troubled Kaveri engine. France has offered full access to the Snecma M88 engine and other key technologies, and United States offered full collaboration in the engine development with access to the GE F-414 and F-135. Two technology demonstrator and four prototype are scheduled to go under various type of testing, and analysis in 2019. Ground reality is that they are far from it. The first flight is scheduled to occur in 2028.
Picture Credit: defencexp.com
Backing the project, chief of Indian air staff, RKS Bhaduria in a briefing in October 2019 said DRDO “must” make the project happen. IAF wants to have “full control” in “defining” technologies of aircraft and supports indigenous fifth generation fighter aircraft as it becomes restricted for IAF when purchasing a foreign system. Defence ministry has been looking for cabinet approval and funds as of 2019 for prototype development phase which will require rs. 7,000-8,000 Crore in a decade. The aircraft was reported to be under Detailed Design Phase in February 2019. and design phase expected to be completed by end of 2019. ADA in consultation with the IAF will try to freeze the design of AMCA soon with their very ambitious first flight target of 2024. With LCA Mk 1 still under delivery for next two years, LCA Mk 1A still do its first flight and there is LCA MK2 or MWF still in between, a more realistic first flight would be close to 2028 or later.
https://airpowerasia.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/****.org_.jpg?w=1024Image Credit: ****
Decision Matrix India

India has to finally take a call for itself. Choices are few.
(a) The Russian Air Force has just formed the first squadron Su-57. They have reportedly ordered 78. India has walked out of the project for cost, work share and core technology transfer issues. The Russian government has been trying to put pressure at highest levels to induct India back into the Russian FGFA program or to buy a few Su-57 squadrons. The then IAF Chief BS Dhanoa during an interview with Russian Ministry of Defense’s official newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star), stated that while Su-57 is currently not being considered for the IAF, but the combat aircraft can be evaluated once it joins active service with the Russian Air Force. India’s final decision could depend on resolving the differences. In any case India has already committed to nearly 300 Su-30 MKI. That currently amounts to 45 per cent of the IAF. Putting any further eggs in the Russian basket has its own risks and dynamics.
(b) The F-35 first flew on 15 December 2006. A large number of countries are part of the program. Nearly 600 have already been built. The U.S. plans to buy 2,456 F-35s through 2044. It is a huge program and the aircraft will continuously be upgraded. India and USA have strategically come closer in recent years. The Americans are currently not talking with India on the F-35. They believe that India must first fit into the American fighter aviation eco-system, tacitly implying that first India must choose between the F-21 (India-specific variant of the F-16) or the F-18 super hornet. Americans will at best talk about F-35 with India after 2025, or if American fighters lose the India fighter competition. After having procured the Russian S 400 SAM system, has India lost the last of chances to procure F-35? Only time will tell.
(c) The BAE Systems Tempest is a proposed fighter aircraft concept that is under development in the United Kingdom for the British Royal Air Force and the Italian Air Force. It is being developed by a consortium known as “Team Tempest,” consisting of the UK Ministry of Defence, BAE Systems, Rolls Royce, Leonardo and MBDA, and is intended to enter service from 2035. Two billion pounds will be spent by the British government on the project by 2025. On 19 July 2019, Sweden and the United Kingdom signed a memorandum of understanding to explore ways of jointly developing sixth-generation air combat technologies. Italy announced its involvement in Project Tempest on 10 September 2019. Tempest will be able to fly unmanned, and use swarming technology to control drones. It will incorporate artificial intelligence deep learning and possess directed Energy Weapons. In 2019 UK offered for India to join the Tempest program. The program is still at early stage. The aircraft will effectively skip the classic fifth generation stage and leave the participants to partial sixth generation. For India it is too early to take such a call.
(d) Follow the currently charted route for indigenous fighter. India is still at LCA Mk 1 stage and IAF awaits 20 FOC aircraft in next 18 months. LCA Mk 1A induction is still optimistically more than 36 months away. IAF wants nearly 200 LCA Mk II. Meanwhile this variant would most likely now be the single engine 17.5 ton Medium Weight Fighter (MWF), and would perhaps borrow technologies being developed for AMCA. These could include some RCS reducing measures so that a degree of frontal stealth can be achieved, including Radar-absorbent material coating and composites making up its skin, and twisted air-intake ducts. Originally planned first flight of 2023 is clearly unachievable. Most analysts believe the timeline would be closer to 2028. There is also a talk of a twin-engine version of Tejas, identified as Omni-Role Combat Aircraft (ORCA). There is a go-ahead for a deck-based fighter variant (TEDBF). As LCA evolves, the current plan is to proceed with AMCA development. If the Mk II will do first flight in 2028 then realistic estimates are that AMCA will do first flight in 2032 or so. AMCA will then induct in 2035 or later. It must be remembered that clock starts only once significant funds are allotted. The clock for LCA Mk 1A, which is technologically the least challenging, is just starting. If India is ready for these timelines, this option needs to be pushed.
LCA ORCA. Picture Credit: defenceupdate.in
(d) One other option is to concentrate on LCA Mk II, forget the fifth generation aircraft and convert the AMCA concept to a straight into the sixth generation fighter.
(e) India may also be forced into an interim option. LCA Mk 1 had its first flight in 2001, and in 2020 only 20 have been delivered. Technologies do push challenges and often excessive delays force looking at fresh technologies. Chinese J 20 first flew in 2011 and was inducted in service in 2017. JF 17 ‘Thunder’ first flew in 2003 and service induction was in 2007-08, and nearly 130 are flying today. India’s fifth generation aircraft timelines are currently nearly 18-20 years behind China. India can ill afford that long wait. India is thus sandwiched between the two ends of the vice. Buying a foreign fifth generation aircraft could further delay the AMCA. So India needs to first ensure it acquires critical technologies during the new 114 fighter acquisition even if it means paying for some. Some systems of the AMCA including engine, radar and EW suites can be developed through joint venture route. By a finite time, say around 2025, India should review the progress of the AMCA and maybe then decide to buy, as an interim two squadrons of some foreign fifth generation. It could be the F-35 or some other on offer that has matured. Meanwhile the entire nation must commit itself for AMCA to succeed quickly.
Picture Credit:
militarywatchmagazine.com
 

Hydra

Active member
May 19, 2020
349
187
Mumbai
The speculative portions of first flight is a complete mess, but the rest of the article is good.


Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft – Time To Get Act Right India
Anil Chopra
Anil Chopra
23 hours ago
anil chopra, air power asia, fifth generation fighter

Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft – Options India. Picture Credit: militarywatchmagazine.com

The Indian government just cleared the development of the twin engine deck-based fighter (TEDBF) for Indian Navy. The development phase is expected to cost between Rs 7,000 and Rs 8,000 Crore. First Flight is tasked to be done in six years. Indigenisation is clearly the focus, and rightly so. Meanwhile just last year the air combat between Indian Air Force’s (IAF) MiG 21 Bison and Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) F 16, had brought the debate of IAF modernization back in focus. IAF is down to an all-time low of 30 fighter squadrons vis-a-vis the authorized 42. The 36 Rafale aircraft to induct shortly are of 4th generation plus class. The US Air Force (USAF) has had a fifth generation aircraft in F 22 Raptor since it formally entered service in December 2005. The USAF and many of their friendly air forces across have inducted the variants of the latest fifth generation fighter the F 35 Lightning II. Home grown fifth generation fighters have also been inducted by Russia and China. There are others who are already developing the next generation fighters. In fact the sixth generation fighters are on the drawing boards of the leading aerospace countries and individual technologies are being developed and tested in laboratories. IAF is in the process of initiating to buy 114 new fighters which will still be of the 4th generation plus class. The logical next step for the world’s 4th largest air force, IAF is to develop or procure a fifth generation fighter. India’s venture to develop its Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) jointly with Russia ran aground because of cost and technical differences. Where must India go from here is the question?
Russian FGFA. Picture Credit: defenseworld.net
Air Dominance and Air Superiority Aircraft

The one who controls the air and space controls the planet. Aerospace craft will aim to seize control establishing dominance/supremacy over the enemy’s assets. Even if aerospace supremacy cannot be established, a “degree of dominance” in the air-space bubble in a given area and given time-space without prohibitive interference by opposing air forces will be desired. Air superiority fighter aircraft are meant for entering and seizing control of enemy airspace. They operate under the control/co-ordination of Early Warning and Control satellites and aircraft with increased Artificial intelligence (AI). Aircraft like US Navy’s F-14 and USAF’s F-15 were built to achieve air superiority from design &development stage. Both later had multi-role variants. Soviets/Russians developed MiG-29 and Su-27 around same time. Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale though multi-role fighters but both have air-superiority missions. F-22 Raptor, Su-30 variants, Su-35, Chinese J-11 and J-15 are also air-superiority aircraft.
Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. Picture Credit: Wikipedia
4.5 Generation Fighters

For some time the world has been classifying the fighter aircraft based on capabilities and technologies. Most modern air forces possess fourth-generation fighters which strengthened the trend towards multirole configurations. Concept of ‘Energy-Maneuverability’ impacted aircraft designs that required performing ‘fast transients’ – quick changes in speed, altitude, and direction – as opposed to relying mostly on high speed. It called for small lightweight aircraft with higher thrust-weight ratio. The F-16, MiG-29 and Mirage-2000 evolved. Fly-By-Wire (FBW) flight controls became possible due advances in computers and system integration, and this allowed relaxed static stability flight and in turn agility. Analog systems began to be replaced by digital flight control systems in late 1980s. Likewise, Full Authority Digital Engine Controls (FADEC) to electronically manage power-plant performance was introduced. Both allowed carefree maneuvering by the pilot. Pulse-Doppler fire-control-radars added Look-down/shoot-down capability. Head-up displays (HUD), hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls, and multi-function displays (MFD) allowed better situational awareness and quicker reactions. Composite materials like bonded aluminum honeycomb structures and graphite epoxy laminate skins helped reduce aircraft weight. Improved maintenance design and procedures reduced aircraft turnaround time between missions and generated more sorties. Another novel technology was stealth using special “low-observable” materials and aircraft design techniques to reduce detect-ability by the enemy’s sensors, particularly radars. The first real stealth designs were Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk attack aircraft in 1983 and the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit in 1989. Military budget cuts after Cold war, and high funding requirements of the fifth generation fighter, resulted in a term called the 4.5th generation fighters during 1990s to 2005. This sub-generation saw advanced digital avionics, newer aerospace materials, modest signature reduction, and highly integrated systems and weapons. These fighters operated in network-centric environment. Key technologies introduced included BVR air-to-air missiles (AAM); GPS-guided weapons, solid-state phased-array radars, helmet-mounted sights (HMDS), and improved secure, jamming-resistant data-links. A degree of super-cruise ability (supersonic without afterburner) was introduced. Stealth characteristics focused on front-aspect radar cross section (RCS) reduction through limited shaping techniques. Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale and Saab JAS 39 Gripen were in this category. Many 4th generation aircraft were also upgraded with new technologies. Su-30MKI and Su-35 featured thrust vectoring engine nozzles to enhance maneuvering. Most of them are still being produced and evolving. It is quite possible that they may continue in production alongside fifth-generation fighters due to the expense of developing the advanced levels of technology. 4.5 generation fighter aircraft are now expected to have AESA radar, high capacity data-link, enhanced avionics, and ability to deploy advanced armaments.
Sukhoi Su 35. Picture Credit: Wikipedia
Fifth Generation Fighters
Fifth-Generation fighter aircraft are the latest jet fighters encompassing the most advanced features. These aircraft are designed from the start to operate in a network-centric combat environment, and to feature extremely low, all-aspect, multi-spectral signatures employing advanced materials and shaping techniques. They have multifunction AESA radars with high-bandwidth low-probability of intercept. Infrared Search and Track (IRST) and other sensors are fused in for Situational Awareness and to constantly track all targets of interest around the aircraft 360 degree bubble. Avionics suites rely on extensive use of very high-speed integrated circuit (VHSIC) technology and high-speed data buses. Integration of all the elements could provide fifth-generation fighters with a “first-look, first-shot, first-kill capability”. In addition to its high resistance to ECM, they can function as a “mini-AWACS”. Integrated electronic warfare system, integrated communications, navigation, and identification (CNI), centralized “vehicle health monitoring”, fibre-optic data-transmission, and stealth are important features. Maneuver performance is enhanced by thrust-vectoring, which also helps reduce takeoff and landing distances. Super-cruise is inbuilt. Layout and internal structures minimize RCS over a broad bandwidth of frequencies. To maintain low signature primary weapons are carried in internal weapon bays. Stealth technology is advanced to where it can be employed without a trade-off with aerodynamics performance. Signature-reduction techniques include special shaping approaches, thermoplastic materials, extensive structural use of advanced composites, conformal sensors, heat-resistant coatings, low-observable wire meshes to cover intake and cooling vents, heat ablating tiles on the exhaust troughs and coating internal and external metal areas with radar-absorbent materials and paints. These aircraft are very expensive. F-22 costs around US$150 million. Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightening II fighters will cost on average US$ 90 million due to large scale production. Other fifth-generation fighter development projects include Russia’s Sukhoi PAK FA; a variant of the same was to have been India’s Fifth-Generation Fighter-Aircraft (FGFA). India is also developing the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA). China’s 5th generation fighter Chengdu J-20 is flying since January 2011 and may be deployed by 2019. The Shenyang J-31 first flew in October 2012. Japan is also exploring technical feasibility to produce fifth-generation fighters. Turkish TAI TFX is being developed with BAE Systems. These aircraft will operate in a ‘Combat Cloud’ along with future UAVs. Japanese next-generation fighter would be based on concept of aircraft informed, intelligent and instantaneous. Japan already conducted the first flight of the Mitsubishi X-2 Shinshin test-bed aircraft for this project. The Mikoyan MiG-41 is another next-generation jet fighter interceptor under development. France and Germany announced they would jointly develop a new combat aircraft to replace the Eurofighter, Tornado and Rafale. It is likely be a twin-seat “system of systems” aircraft acting as a combat platform as well as controlling UCAV’s. UK is committing to a next generation fighter program to potentially replace the Eurofighter Typhoon post-2030, however, the Eurofighter Typhoon has since had its intended service life extended to around 2040. Some Chinese publications are talking of a sixth generation aircraft. Referred to as Huolong (Fire Dragon). But as on date China has serious limitations on radar, avionics, and engine technologies.
Chegdu J 20. Picture Credit: thedrive.com
Evolving Other Technologies

Today technologies are offering enhanced capabilities that are driving operational employment and tactics. Artificial Intelligence (AI), smart structures, and hybrid systems will dictate the future. Demand for streaming high-quality data requires bandwidth, which involves innovating sensor/processing systems. Mission computer systems and network-centric payload processing units enable onboard data fusion prior to sending to digital links. Thermally efficient, high-performance computing onboard the aircraft is essential. Next-generation avionics would be smaller, more efficient and capable of operating under extreme conditions. Gallium Nitride (GaN) is a semiconductor material that is more efficient, easier to cool, and improves reliability for radars. Any system must be designed with aim for maintaining a competitive advantage in an austere budget environment. The Passive Aero-elastic Tailored (PAT), a uniquely designed composite wing will be lighter, more structurally efficient and have flexibility compared to conventional wings. This wing will maximize structural efficiency, reduce weight and conserve fuel. Hypersonic cruise, fuel cell technologies, hybrid sensors, improved human-machine interface using data analytics and bio-mimicry, combination of materials, apertures and radio frequencies that ensure survival in enemy territory are under development. Things will be build faster, better and more affordably, using 3D printing yet ensuring quality and safety standards. Additive 3D manufacture creates a world with spare parts on demand, faster maintenance and repairs, more effective electronics, and customized weapons. The development of a hypersonic aircraft would forever change ability to respond to conflict. Nano-materials will control sizes, shapes and compositions, and significantly reduce weight yet create stronger structures for air and spacecraft, yet drive down costs.
Passive Aero-elastic Tailored (PAT), a uniquely designed composite wing. Picture Credit: aero.engin.umich.edu
Next Generation American Fighter
US Air Force (USAF) and US Navy (USN) have been defining their own requirements of a sixth generation fighter. Currently, the United States has two projects. The US Air Force’s ‘Penetrating Counter-Air’, a long long-range stealth fighter to escort stealth bombers. The USN is pursuing a similar program called the Next Generation Air Dominance, to complement the smaller Lockheed F-35. The timelines for aircraft in development like the F/A-XX program are now around 2030–2035. So far, Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and Northrop-Grumman have unveiled sixth-generation concepts.
US DoD began the sixth generation fighter quest in October 2012. DARPA began a study to try to bridge the USAF and USN concepts. Next-generation fighter efforts will initially be led by DARPA under the “Air Dominance Initiative” to develop prototype X-plane. USAF has announced that it will pursue “a network of integrated systems disaggregated across multiple platforms” rather than a “sixth generation fighter” in its Air Superiority 2030 plan. Dubbed the “Next Generation Tactical Aircraft”/”Next Gen TACAIR“, the USAF seeks a fighter with “enhanced capabilities in areas such as reach, persistence, survivability, net-centricity, situational awareness, human-system integration and weapons effects. The future system will have to counter adversaries equipped with next generation advanced electronic attack, sophisticated integrated air defense systems, passive detection, integrated self-protection, directed energy weapons (DEW), and cyber attack capabilities. It must be able to operate in the anti access/anti-denial environment that will exist in the 2030–50 timeframe. USAF and USN have common approach on the engine using the Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology for longer ranges and higher performance. The newer engines could vary their bypass ratios for optimum efficiency at any speed or altitude. That would give an aircraft a much greater range, faster acceleration, and greater subsonic cruise efficiency. The engine companies involved are General electric (GE) and Pratt & Whitney (P&W).
Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology Picture Credit: GE Avitaion
USAF intends to follow a path of risk reduction by prototyping, technology demonstration, and systems engineering work before creation of an aircraft actually starts. The sixth-generation strike capability not as just an aircraft, but a system of systems including communications, space capabilities, standoff, and stand-in options. USAF fighter maybe larger and more resembling a bomber than a small, maneuverable traditional fighter. Fighter significantly larger can rely on enhanced sensors, signature control, networked situational awareness, and very-long-range weapons to complete engagements before being detected or tracked. Larger planes would have greater range that would enable them to be stationed further from a combat zone, have greater radar and IR detection capabilities, and carry bigger and longer-range missiles. It would include stealth against low or very high frequency radars like those of the S-400 missile system, which would mean airframe with no vertical stabilizers. Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works division has revealed a conceptual next-generation fighter design which calls for greater speed, range, stealth and self-healing structures. Northrop Grumman is looking at a supersonic tailless jet.
Northrop Grumman’s Supersonic Tailless Air Vehicle. Picture Credit; wpafb.af.mil
Other Sixth Generation Programs
France and Germany have awarded a Joint Concept Study (JCS) contract
to Dassault Aviation and Airbus for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program. The baseline concepts is an optionally manned Next Generation Fighter (NGF), and a System of Systems approach with associated next generation services. The BAE Systems Tempest is a proposed stealth fighter aircraft concept to be designed and manufactured in the United Kingdom for the Royal Air Force. It is being developed by a consortium consisting of the UK Ministry of Defence, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo and MBDA, and is intended to enter service from 2035 replacing the Eurofighter Typhoon. Approximately $2.66 billion will be spent by the British government on the project by 2025. BAE Systems is planning to approach India for collaboration for the design and manufacture of the Tempest. Tempest could be optionally manned and have swarming technology to control drones. It will incorporate AI deep learning and possess DEWs. Tempest will feature an adaptive cycle engine and virtual cockpit shown on a pilot’s helmet-mounted display.
BAE Systems Tempest. Picture Credit: aero-mag.com
China is still evolving its J-20 and J-31. Some Chinese sixth generation aircraft (J-XX) is referred to as Huolong (Fire Dragon). But as on date China has serious limitations on radar, avionics, and engine technologies. China planned to field it in the 2025-2030 time frame. In Russia, work is on for its sixth generation aircraft Mikoyan MiG-41. Japan’s Mitsubishi F-3 sixth-generation fighter would be based on concept of aircraft informed, intelligent and instantaneous, technologies for which are under testing on the Mitsubishi X-2 Shinshin test-bed aircraft. Given the enormous expenses and effort devoted to working out the kinks in the fifth-generation, the Sixth-generation fighter programs are still conceptual. Many technologies are under development in parallel. At the earliest, sixth-generation fighters may be visible in the 2030s or 2040s, and may see further conceptual change by then.
Mikoyan MiG-41. Picture Credit: nationalinterest.org
Sukhoi/HAL FGFA

The Sukhoi/HAL Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) or Perspective Multi-role Fighter (PMF) was a 50:50 (funding, engineering, and intellectual property rights) joint venture between India and Russia. It was a derivative project of the Russian Sukhoi Su 50 (later Su-57) for the Russian Air Force. The completed FGFA was to include a total of 43 improvements over the Su-57, including stealth, super-cruise, advanced sensors, networking and combat avionics. The Indian version would have been a two-seater with pilot and co-pilot or weapon systems Operator (WSO). Though India withdrew from the FGFA programme in 2018, but also hinted that the project could be resumed at a later date, when the Su-57 is fully operational in the Russian Air Force. Russia also claimed in August 2018 that the FGFA program was not cancelled and India was still in dialogue with Russia. The FGFA is a stealth multirole air superiority fighter. The joint development deal would have each country invest $6 billion and develop over 8–10 years. The preliminary design cost was $295 million and was to will be completed within 18 months. The Russian version will be a single-pilot fighter. The single-seat fighters were to be assembled in Russia, and HAL was to assemble two-seaters. FGFA was to be fitted with the next generation air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons, have the NO79 AESA radar, use 2 Saturn 117 engines (about 147.1 kN thrust each). The Saturn 117 is an advanced version of the AL-31F. There were to be 6 external (on the wing) hard points and 6 internal. HAL’s work share was to include critical software including the mission computer, navigation systems, most of the cockpit displays, the counter measure dispensing (CMD) systems and modifying Sukhoi’s prototype into fighter as per the requirement of the IAF.
Sukhoi PAK FA. Sukhoi-HAL FGFA. Picture Credit: pngwing.com
FGFA was scheduled to be certified by 2019, following which the series production was to start. But there was apprehension that the FGFA would significantly exceed its $6 billion budget, as the crucial avionics systems would cost extra. Cost was estimated at $100 million per fighter in addition to the development costs. By October 2012, India had cut its total purchase size to 144 aircraft. Russia also admitted to huge delays and cost overruns. There were also accusations that HAL had contributed only 15% of the research and development work, but provided half the cost. There were also questions about maintenance issues, the engine, stealth features, weapon carriage system, safety and reliability. By 2016, Indian interest in the project was fading after Russia cut back their own purchases. In 2017, Russians suddenly demanded seven billion dollars that the Indians could not afford. India then began evaluating the need for FGFA in light of the price increase and progress on the HAL AMCA. There was also a proposal of an upgraded Su-35 with stealth technology, as a more affordable alternative to the FGFA. On 20 April 2018, it was reported that India had left the project. It was asserted that India was not satisfied with the capabilities of the Su-57. However, India did not rule out the possibility of re-launch of the FGFA.
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II
The F-35 is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather, fifth generation, stealth multirole fighters designed to perform ground-attack and air-superiority missions. The F-35A is the conventional takeoff and landing variant that would normally be of interest to any air force. The F-35 had emerged as the winning design of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. The United States principally funds F-35 development, with additional funding from other US allies. These funding countries generally receive subcontracts to manufacture components for the aircraft. Several other countries have ordered, or are considering ordering, the aircraft. The F-35 first flew on 15 December 2006. The USAF formed its first squadron in August 2016. In 2018, the F-35 was first engaged in combat by the Israeli Air Force. The United States plans to buy 2,663 F-35s, which will provide the bulk of the crewed tactical airpower of the USAF, Navy, and Marine Corps in coming decades. 520 had been delivered by 07 March 2020. Deliveries of the F-35 for the U.S. military are scheduled until 2037, with a projected service life up to 2070. The unit cost of the aircraft is around US$ 90 million.

HAL-ADA AMCA
The HAL-ADA Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is a fifth generation aircraft being designed by ADA and will be manufactured by HAL. It will be a twin-engine, stealth, all weather multirole fighter. AMCA feasibility study and the preliminary design stage have been completed. It will combine super-cruise, stealth, advanced AESA radar, super maneuverability and advanced avionics. It is meant to replace the Jaguar, MiG-27 and Mirage 2000 aircraft of the IAF, and complement the SU-30 MKI, Rafale and Tejas in the IAF, and MiG 29K in the Navy. In October 2008, IAF had asked ADA to prepare a detailed project report for a next generation medium combat aircraft. In April 2010, IAF issued the ASQR for the AMCA, which placed the aircraft in the 25-ton category. The first flight test of the prototype aircraft was scheduled to take place by 2017. DRDO proposed to power the aircraft with two GTX Kaveri engines. In October 2010, the government released RS 100 crore to prepare feasibility studies. Meanwhile in November 2010 itself ADA sought Rs 9,000 crore to fund the development which would include two technology demonstrators and seven prototypes. In 2013 ADA unveiled a 1:8 scale model at Aero India 2013. The AMCA design will have shoulder-mounted diamond-shaped trapezoidal wings, and an all-moving Canard-Vertical V-tail with large fuselage mounted tail-wing. It will be equipped with a quadruple digital fly-by-optics control system using fibre optic cables. The reduced radar cross-section (RCS) would be through airframe and engine inlet shaping and use of radar-absorbent materials (RAM). AMCA will have an internal weapons bay, but a non-stealthy version with external pylons is also planned.
Low-speed and supersonic wind tunnel testing and Radar Cross Section (RCS) testing was reportedly completed by 2014, and project definition phase by February 2014. The Engineering Technology & Manufacturing Development (ETMD) phase was started in January 2014 after HAL Tejas attained IOC, and it was announced that the AMCA will have first flight by 2018. At Aero India 2015, ADA confirmed that work on major technological issues, thrust vectoring, super-cruising engine, AESA radar and stealth technology was going full swing. Russia was to support for the development of Three-Dimensional Thrust Vectoring (TDTVC), AESA Radar and stealth technology. Saab, Boeing and Lockheed Martin also offered to help in key technologies. AMCA will initially fly with two GE-414 engines. Eventually it is planned to be powered by two GTRE, 90 kN thrust, K 9 or K10 engines which are successor to the troubled Kaveri engine. France has offered full access to the Snecma M88 engine and other key technologies, and United States offered full collaboration in the engine development with access to the GE F-414 and F-135. Two technology demonstrator and four prototype are scheduled to go under various type of testing, and analysis in 2019. Ground reality is that they are far from it. The first flight is scheduled to occur in 2028.
Picture Credit: defencexp.com
Backing the project, chief of Indian air staff, RKS Bhaduria in a briefing in October 2019 said DRDO “must” make the project happen. IAF wants to have “full control” in “defining” technologies of aircraft and supports indigenous fifth generation fighter aircraft as it becomes restricted for IAF when purchasing a foreign system. Defence ministry has been looking for cabinet approval and funds as of 2019 for prototype development phase which will require rs. 7,000-8,000 Crore in a decade. The aircraft was reported to be under Detailed Design Phase in February 2019. and design phase expected to be completed by end of 2019. ADA in consultation with the IAF will try to freeze the design of AMCA soon with their very ambitious first flight target of 2024. With LCA Mk 1 still under delivery for next two years, LCA Mk 1A still do its first flight and there is LCA MK2 or MWF still in between, a more realistic first flight would be close to 2028 or later.
https://airpowerasia.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/****.org_.jpg?w=1024Image Credit: ****
Decision Matrix India

India has to finally take a call for itself. Choices are few.
(a) The Russian Air Force has just formed the first squadron Su-57. They have reportedly ordered 78. India has walked out of the project for cost, work share and core technology transfer issues. The Russian government has been trying to put pressure at highest levels to induct India back into the Russian FGFA program or to buy a few Su-57 squadrons. The then IAF Chief BS Dhanoa during an interview with Russian Ministry of Defense’s official newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star), stated that while Su-57 is currently not being considered for the IAF, but the combat aircraft can be evaluated once it joins active service with the Russian Air Force. India’s final decision could depend on resolving the differences. In any case India has already committed to nearly 300 Su-30 MKI. That currently amounts to 45 per cent of the IAF. Putting any further eggs in the Russian basket has its own risks and dynamics.
(b) The F-35 first flew on 15 December 2006. A large number of countries are part of the program. Nearly 600 have already been built. The U.S. plans to buy 2,456 F-35s through 2044. It is a huge program and the aircraft will continuously be upgraded. India and USA have strategically come closer in recent years. The Americans are currently not talking with India on the F-35. They believe that India must first fit into the American fighter aviation eco-system, tacitly implying that first India must choose between the F-21 (India-specific variant of the F-16) or the F-18 super hornet. Americans will at best talk about F-35 with India after 2025, or if American fighters lose the India fighter competition. After having procured the Russian S 400 SAM system, has India lost the last of chances to procure F-35? Only time will tell.
(c) The BAE Systems Tempest is a proposed fighter aircraft concept that is under development in the United Kingdom for the British Royal Air Force and the Italian Air Force. It is being developed by a consortium known as “Team Tempest,” consisting of the UK Ministry of Defence, BAE Systems, Rolls Royce, Leonardo and MBDA, and is intended to enter service from 2035. Two billion pounds will be spent by the British government on the project by 2025. On 19 July 2019, Sweden and the United Kingdom signed a memorandum of understanding to explore ways of jointly developing sixth-generation air combat technologies. Italy announced its involvement in Project Tempest on 10 September 2019. Tempest will be able to fly unmanned, and use swarming technology to control drones. It will incorporate artificial intelligence deep learning and possess directed Energy Weapons. In 2019 UK offered for India to join the Tempest program. The program is still at early stage. The aircraft will effectively skip the classic fifth generation stage and leave the participants to partial sixth generation. For India it is too early to take such a call.
(d) Follow the currently charted route for indigenous fighter. India is still at LCA Mk 1 stage and IAF awaits 20 FOC aircraft in next 18 months. LCA Mk 1A induction is still optimistically more than 36 months away. IAF wants nearly 200 LCA Mk II. Meanwhile this variant would most likely now be the single engine 17.5 ton Medium Weight Fighter (MWF), and would perhaps borrow technologies being developed for AMCA. These could include some RCS reducing measures so that a degree of frontal stealth can be achieved, including Radar-absorbent material coating and composites making up its skin, and twisted air-intake ducts. Originally planned first flight of 2023 is clearly unachievable. Most analysts believe the timeline would be closer to 2028. There is also a talk of a twin-engine version of Tejas, identified as Omni-Role Combat Aircraft (ORCA). There is a go-ahead for a deck-based fighter variant (TEDBF). As LCA evolves, the current plan is to proceed with AMCA development. If the Mk II will do first flight in 2028 then realistic estimates are that AMCA will do first flight in 2032 or so. AMCA will then induct in 2035 or later. It must be remembered that clock starts only once significant funds are allotted. The clock for LCA Mk 1A, which is technologically the least challenging, is just starting. If India is ready for these timelines, this option needs to be pushed.
LCA ORCA. Picture Credit: defenceupdate.in
(d) One other option is to concentrate on LCA Mk II, forget the fifth generation aircraft and convert the AMCA concept to a straight into the sixth generation fighter.
(e) India may also be forced into an interim option. LCA Mk 1 had its first flight in 2001, and in 2020 only 20 have been delivered. Technologies do push challenges and often excessive delays force looking at fresh technologies. Chinese J 20 first flew in 2011 and was inducted in service in 2017. JF 17 ‘Thunder’ first flew in 2003 and service induction was in 2007-08, and nearly 130 are flying today. India’s fifth generation aircraft timelines are currently nearly 18-20 years behind China. India can ill afford that long wait. India is thus sandwiched between the two ends of the vice. Buying a foreign fifth generation aircraft could further delay the AMCA. So India needs to first ensure it acquires critical technologies during the new 114 fighter acquisition even if it means paying for some. Some systems of the AMCA including engine, radar and EW suites can be developed through joint venture route. By a finite time, say around 2025, India should review the progress of the AMCA and maybe then decide to buy, as an interim two squadrons of some foreign fifth generation. It could be the F-35 or some other on offer that has matured. Meanwhile the entire nation must commit itself for AMCA to succeed quickly.
Picture Credit:
militarywatchmagazine.com
We were nowhere in aerospace technological outbreak.
 

Ashwin

Agent_47
Staff member
Administrator
Nov 30, 2017
3,613
5,755
Bangalore

HAL Chairman is saying they want to create a new company with DRDO and 'Private Partner' to produce AMCA. This is smart, covering the downside. ;)
 
  • Haha
Reactions: Nikhil

_Anonymous_

Senior Member
Dec 4, 2017
11,853
7,424
Mumbai

HAL Chairman is saying they want to create a new company with DRDO and 'Private Partner' to produce AMCA. This is smart, covering the downside. ;)
If the govt accepts the proposal with the pvt player vested with the majority stake the boots on the other foot.
 

TARGET

Active member
Dec 2, 2017
284
215

HAL Chairman is saying they want to create a new company with DRDO and 'Private Partner' to produce AMCA. This is smart, covering the downside. ;)
Question is, why not start implementing this structure from day 1 with MK2 then ORCA, and AMCA? ... till it comes to AMCA everything would have been settled down.
 

Ashwin

Agent_47
Staff member
Administrator
Nov 30, 2017
3,613
5,755
Bangalore
Bid To Choose Pvt Partner In India’s 5th Gen Fighter JV Begins

Never before has an Indian private sector company been offered the opportunity to be an equal partner in a military aviation project. Military aircraft development and manufacture has so far strictly been the preserve of the state-owned DRDO and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). Now, in one of the biggest shifts in India’s government-monopolised military industrial complex, that’s about to change.

Seen as the most meaningful and substantial involvement of the Indian private sector in a military aviation project, all eyes are now on which privately-held company will be chosen to be an equal joint venture partner for India’s fifth generation fighter effort, the AMCA project. In a major newsbreak Sunday night, Livefist revealed that the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) program, is to be executed by a public-private joint venture — a first in Indian military industrial history.

Livefist can now confirm that the selection process is all set to begin to choose the private sector partner in the proposed corporate joint venture. A special purpose vehicle (SPV) is to be created in the interim, followed by a full-fledged joint venture that will administer and execute the development, manufacture and testing of the fifth generation AMCA.

Livefist has learnt that companies that include Larsen & Toubro, Lakshmi Machine Works (LMW) Advanced Technology Centre, Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) and at least three other private sector defence firms are in the fray. While Livefist understands that L&T is being seen as a frontrunner, given its existing deep involvement and experience in India’s strategic military programs, including the nuclear submarine build program, a final decision on the AMCA JV will only be taken once the selection process is complete.

Workshare, financials and other terms of reference are to be drawn up this year ahead of decision on the private sector company that will be — for the first time — an equal player in India’s most crucial aviation project. The AMCA JV thrust is separate from the existing supplier and developer base the project already has in the private sector. Companies like VEM Technologies, Dynamatics and others are already involved in the prototyping stage, and will remain tier-level partners for the duration of the project.

The AMCA joint venture company will be based in Coimbatore, where an AMCA ‘site’ has been ready for nearly two years now at the IAF’s Sulur base in Tamil Nadu. According top priority to the program, the IAF has already earmarked 20 acres of land for the JV in Sulur for the final assembly and checkout facility. Testing of the jet will take place at the peninsular base which also houses the IAF’s LCA Tejas squadrons.

While the original plan was for the AMCA JV to be directly between the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and a chosen private sector company, HAL’s involvement in the design of the jet has meant that the state-owned company will be part of AMCA corporate entity. The fact that the AMCA JV is to come up in Sulur in Tamil Nadu, and not HAL’s home turf of Bengaluru, is indicative of this original impulse. Once things get moving, the AMCA will be, by far, Tamil Nadu’s most significant military industrial project.

Given how crucial the AMCA project is to future military planning, one of the biggest questions is just who will call the shots in the proposed joint venture. With HAL and the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) both involved in the preliminary design studies on the stealth jet, the Indian Air Force has expressed concern over the pace of work. Top IAF sources tell Livefist that the air force is hoping that the private sector company chosen for the JV should call equal shots in the new arrangement, if not taking a full lead.

Then there’s the question of the proposed jet’s engine.

The twin-engine AMCA is planned to be powered by an in-development 110 KN turbofan being developed by HAL, DRDO’s Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE — the lead agency) and a foreign engine major (France’s Safran). HAL chairman R. Madhavan told Livefist in an interview last week that the new engine would be ab initio but draw learnings from the erstwhile Kaveri turbofan project. Prototypes of the AMCA, though, will be powered by GE F414 engines. The HAL chairman has said work has speeded up to roll out an AMCA prototype by 2025, with flight test to begin in 2027-28, which confirms earlier timelines set by the DRDO.