India may test futuristic jets by 2015
8 Aug 2008, 0315 hrs IST, Rajat Pandit,TNN
NEW DELHI: India hopes that the first developmental flight of the stealth fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), to be co-developed with Russia, will take place by 2015-2016.
The FGFA, as envisaged by IAF to fulfil its futuristic requirements, will have a lethal mix of super-manoeuvrability and supersonic cruising ability, long-range strike and high-endurance air defence capabilities. Apart from a ‘‘minimal’’ radar tracking signature to impart stealth, the FGFA will have ‘‘a very high degree of network centricity’’, as also multi-spectral reconnaissance and surveillance systems — optical, infra-red, laser and radar sensors.
‘‘The FGFA should fly for the first time by 2015 or so. If it manages to do so earlier, then it will be a big achievement. Negotiations with Russia are making good progress, with the details being worked out,’’ IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major told TOI on Thursday.
‘‘It is very complex to design and develop an FGFA. The FGFA we want will be an entirely new platform, with many additional features, stealth being an important one,’’ he added. The ongoing negotiations with Russia flow from the FGFA agreement signed during the Indo-Russian inter-governmental commission on military-technical cooperation meeting, co-chaired by defence minister A K Antony and his Russian counterpart, last October.
The bone of contention is that Russia has already frozen the design parameters of its FGFA, the single-seater Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA, the first prototype of which is likely to take to the skies by 2009.
India, however, wants a twin-seater FGFA built to its requirements, which will obviously require several design changes. With the FGFA project expected to cost $8-10 billion, a cash-starved Russia is agreeable to the idea of having both single and twin-seater versions. ‘‘The various issues are being sorted out,’’ said an official.
There is only one operational FGFA in the world at present, the American F/A-22 ‘Raptor’, which comes at a whopping $142 million apiece. Another, the F-35 ‘Lightning-II’, in turn, is still under joint development by US, UK and seven other countries.
The most potent fighter in the IAF fleet currently is the Sukhoi-30MKI, which can be placed a little over fourth-generation, along with others like Eurofighter Typhoon, Rafale, Gripen and F/A-18 ‘Super Hornets’. While fourth-generation fighters typically revolve around multi-role capabilities, FGFA takes it forward by incorporating stealth technology, composite materials, supercruise, thrust-vectoring and integrated avionics as well.
Since it will take well over a decade for an Indo-Russian FGFA to become fully-operational, IAF is banking upon the 230 Sukhoi-30MKIs contracted from Russia at an overall cost of around $8.5 billion. Then, of course, there is also the mammoth $10.4 billion project to induct 126 new multi-role combat aircraft in IAF from 2012-2013 onwards. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/India_may_test_futuristic_jets_by_2015/articleshow/3339596.cms