DRDO’S stealth fighter


With so much at­ten­tion paid to In­dia’s LCA Te­jas and the In­doRus­sian fifth gen­er­a­tion fighter air­craft (FGFA – but of­fi­cially des­ig­nated Prospec­tive Mul­ti­role Fighter or PMF) pro­gramme, it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that the DRDO is also de­sign­ing and de­vel­op­ing In­dia’s own next gen­er­a­tion medium fighter, the AMCA, a stealthy twin-en­gined strike fighter that is in­tended to be an In­dian take on the F-22 Rap­tor. The com­puter de­sign im­ages, from the Ad­vanced Projects & Tech­nolo­gies (AP&T) di­rec­torate of In­dia’s Aero­nau­ti­cal De­vel­op­ment Agency (ADA) pro­vide valu­able im­pres­sions on the stealth de­sign el­e­ments that are known to be go­ing into In­dia’s Ad­vanced Medium Com­bat Air­craft (AMCA). Ser­pen­tine air in­takes (with min­i­mum flow dis­tor­tion and ro­bust pres­sure re­cov­ery) and in­ter­nal weapons bays, de­picted in the im­ages above, are some of the most crit­i­cal nose-on low ob­serv­abil­ity de­sign el­e­ments go­ing into the pro­gramme. As part of the mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary de­sign op­ti­mi­sa­tion (MDO) cur­rently on for the AMCA – a wind tun­nel model of which was first pub­licly dis­played at AeroIn­dia 2009 – that de­sign-based stealth fea­tures will in­clude fur­ther op­ti­mised air­frame shap­ing, edge match­ing, body conforming an­ten­nae and a low IR sig­na­ture through noz­zle de­sign, engine bay cool­ing and work on re­duced ex­haust tem­per­a­ture. Radar ab­sorbent ma­te­ri­als and paints, spe­cial coat­ings for poly­car­bon­ate canopy and pre­ci­sion man­u­fac­tur­ing will all be part of the ef­fort to make the AMCA In­dia’s first stealth air­plane. With aero­dy­namic de­sign op­ti­mi­sa­tion near com­plete, the AMCA’s broad spec­i­fi­ca­tions are fi­nal. The aicraft will have a weight of 16-18 tonnes [16-18 tonnes with 2-tonnes of in­ter­nal weapons and 4-tonnes of in­ter­nal fuel with a com­bat ceil­ing of 15-km, max­i­mum speed of 1.8-Mach at 11-km. The AMCA will be pow­ered by 2 x 90KN en­gines with vec­tored noz­zles – likely to be the new GTRESnecma engine un­der de­vel­op­ment.

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