Indranil wrote:I sometimes wonder if India, South Korea and Japan join hands to develop their fifth generation aircrafts. All three countries are aligned and all three have mediocre experience in designing aircrafts and engines. All three don't have the funds to do it alone, but joining forces may result in a great product. The timelines of these programs are also aligned.
I don't think anybody can argue that the F414 EE is the back up for all three aircrafts. I don't think there is any alternative today.
South Korea and Japan in one program is next to impossible. They don't like each other much.
India and South Korea could've been partners on a 5th gen program. The KF-X and AMCA are both going to be somewhat similar jets, similarly sized, possibly similar ballpark weights, with 2 F-414s (at least for the first AMCA batch). However, back when South Korea was scouting for partners, India was wedded to the PAK-FA program and had invested $230 million on its FGFA Preliminary Design Phase.
IMO, the Indian establishment also didn't seem to have that much faith back then in India leading a 5th gen program (given that the LCA hadn't yet entered service and built up a solid reputation). Things seemed to have changed now, with leadership putting faith in the industry's ability to deliver. Back then it was thought that HAL/ADA would be junior partners and Russia would basically just "teach" them what to do and we'd customize an existing model, the way the MKI program did on the Su-30. We would then assemble them here, with Russia having some workshare and the rest being local. Now that the Su-57 is clearly out of the picture, the focus has shifted over to the AMCA and there seems to be some urgency building up.
Till even a couple of years ago, South Korea was clearly the more junior partner of the two in terms of real experience, given that the T-50/FA-50 were mostly LM designed but South Korean built. LCA established India's aerospace industry and their knowledge base. But since then the South Koreans have moved much more swiftly, using Israeli experience to work on an AESA radar, whereas we built our own in the meantime. They've involved more South Korean private industries as well, much more so than on the T-50/FA-50.
But in more ways than one, there were real hurdles to any partnership. The timelines for induction of the jets are different. India had the Tejas Mk1A and then the Tejas Mk2/MWF program in the mould of the Gripen E to work on immediately, for replacing over 200 fighters. Whereas South Korea never really developed the FA-50 to anywhere near the Tejas Mk1 or Mk1A level. Forget a F-414 engined FA-50 Mk2 or whatever, they're seeing even modest requirements (like a targeting pod or IFR) being dictated by export nations. Clearly the ROKAF doesn't see much value in going down the FA-50 path.
ROKAF has already started inducting F-35A and isn't thinking of a up-engined FA-50 variant to replace their F-5 and F-4s. Instead they've decided to put all their resources into the KF-X and use F-35 to fill in whatever gaps there are. IAF hasn't yet inducted any 5th gen jets and the feeling is that 4th gen jets will be sufficient for this decade, given our threat scenario.
Another problem with partnerships is negotiating workshare agreements and capability roadmaps that need to be funded. Eurofighter is a prime example of that.
I feel that now that the Su-57 derived FGFA is out of the picture, a public-private partnership should see the AMCA through. The private sector is far ahead today than it was when the LCA was being developed. There was and still is, nothing that the South Koreans could bring in that we didn't already have or couldn't develop on our own..IMO.
Japan is an all together different story. Their F-3 requirements are still not clear and there is AFAIK, not yet a commitment to develop.