Indranil wrote:In sensor suite, it is second to none. In fact, one could argue that in these two areas, it will be the world-leader. When properly finished, its RCS will be in the ball park of a F-35, will be slightly higher. In sensor fusion and network centric warfare, F-35 leads the world by 5 years, may be 10. The Europeans can jump all they want. Nobody can take that away from the F-35.
I don't think anybody (including the Europeans who're all lining up to buy it, save for the French) has disputed the F-35's advantage in terms of sensor fusion. The point about the PAK FA's sensors & RCS being comparable or better than the F-35's is very questionable though. In terms of AESAs, EO, EW, MMI, the likes of Northrop Grumman & Lockheed Martin have had at least a generation's edge over their Russian counterparts (and in several segments, half a gen over the Europeans). As for RCS, the F-35 is the 4th stealth jet the US is bringing to operational service, and like I mentioned in previous posts it incorporates lessons from everyone of its predecessors.
Now comes what should India do for 5th gen aircraft. It has to start having a plan for having that tip of the spear. The Chinese are on their way with J-20 and J-31. I am not so sure of the aerial prowess of J-20, but surely it will have very good reach and strike capability. We have no counter for that. We can go for buying F-35, but it will get us nothing but the planes. We want more because we have the AMCA program, and we want some technologies. At the moment the FGFA, is our safest bet.
The J-20 is an important but the threat is equally serious from the PLAAF's J-10s, J-11s, KJ-200, KJ-2000 fleets, S-300 & S-400 class SAMs and other ground-based air defences. The threat is real and is here and now.
The FGFA will come along around 2026-27 but if there's one thing that we'll learned from the MiG-29 & Su-30 acquisitions is that reliability/maintainability isn't really a selling point for Russian systems, and for a new design like the Su-57 that's doubly true. It'll take time for niggling hardware issues, software bugs, spares supply, operational SOPs etc. to be ironed out.
ToT may be a plus, or it may not, depending on how much the Russians are willing to transfer and how much we're able to absorb in the AMCA's time frame (case-in-point: the first 10 years
of Su-30MKI production at HAL consisted primarily of kit assembly).
Meanwhile, the Chinese threat continues to grow both quantitatively & qualitatively. The safest way to deal with that is to tell LM to switch horses before entering the SEF waters. In due time, it can be complemented by the Su-57, while also functioning as a hedge against problems/delays with the latter program.