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.