NRao wrote:In the PAK FA's context, one would assume the higher the degree of sensor fusion that's built into the aircraft, the more expensive and time-consuming it will be to customize.
Indians expected their FGFA to be superior to the PAK-FA - a *lot* more advanced. It is all there in the earlier articles.
As an example, the PAK-FA does have 360 coverage, but, India wanted 360 AESA coverage. A substantial difference.
Composites was another area where the Indians were very confident that they could make the FGFA a superior plane.
Thing is we can expect a lot, but somewhere along the line practicality kicks in.
For instance take the 360 degree AESA thing - again, where is the local tech to make this happen? If not, we are either dependent on Russia, France or Israel. Take France or Israel out of the question - France would rather the river Styx froze over before handing us Thales tech for the Rafale, for the FGFA (a rival). Israel was facing issues even giving us the EL/M-2052 thanks to US pressure.
Our capabilities are maturing - we are yet to even get a single fully kitted out flying prototype AESA FCR out for tests.
So we are dependent on Russia. And here, we can get what Russia has been able to achieve - which seems well in line with what the rest of the AESA makers are at - they have a powerful 1526 module front facing AESA, with 2 cheek arrays with around (800? modules each) - per reports, the AESA will also be capable of LPI modes etc, so thats a plus. NIIP has a long history in ESAs (thats the experience factor), the significant investments and learning curve will be more towards the hardware (Tx/Rx sticks for instance, wherein the US would have an advantage, with more compact modules@ lower power, giving equivalent performance). Overall though, this will be a powerful, credible radar, able to match whatever's out there and what we will face. Much the same as a "late entrant" Bars was able to still match some of the 1st Gen AESAs and last gen MSAs and a Bars derivative Irbis can match 2nd Gen AESAs.
Point is even if we don't get the sky high specs demanded by the IAF, we will still get a very credible fighter with its own USPs.
For instance, a rough compare of the JSF vs FGFA assuming FGFA = PAKFA as the JSF is the only other acquisition alternative to the FGFA
1. Both will have AESAs - the FGFA will have better coverage w/cheek arrays; the US radar will be better multirole able to handle higher # of A2A and A2G targets simultaneously with better resolution SAR modes etc
2. Stealth - JSF ahead; though FGFA will reportedly use an active EW suite to compensate for active hot spots/break the kill chain ("Himalaya suite" with disposable RF EW - doesn't paint a target on the aircraft itself)
3. Kinematics/Maneuverability - significant edge to FGFA
4. Cost - should be equivalent; acquisition lower for FGFA, lifecycle costs cheaper for JSF (single engined)
5. Technology Access (India) - FGFA blows the JSF away. Assembly/codesign of the FGFA even at the level of a Su-30MKI would simply never be available for the JSF
6. Passive avionics - JSF has DAS (360 deg SA) - edge; FGFA will have integrated KOLS with (reportedly) DIRCM - edge there (JSF may get something in the future)
7. Political aspect- this is the critical factor which puts the JSF out of contention, as far as India is concerned. Russian reliability in this regard is still miles ahead of the US & would have played a role in the MMRCA downselect as well.
8. Weapons - edge to FGFA for more internal carriage balanced out by JSFs greater weapons options
Point is this list can continue ad infinitum. 5&7 are the key aspects which count from a strategic perspective for an Independent India.
Both platforms will have their pros and cons, but overall, the FGFA brings a lot of value on the table for an IAF which would want both top edge performance against the next Gen platforms from PRC etc and yet, wants local control and ownership of sustainment and also modernization.
Overall, more than the FGFA, India needs to invest in its own eyes - Project India AWACS with cutting edge capabilities in anti-stealth and similar GBRs (without these all the JSFs and FGFAs are useless, a bunch of stealthy bats running around in the dark unable to detect other stealthy bats) and also the AMCA.
Without the AMCA, we will not gain ownership of crucial technologies in stealth, fire control & guidance and so forth.