India’s participation in FGFA uncertain
According to reliable reports, India’s plans to participate in joint development of the Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (variously known as the PAK-FA or T.50 and now officially the Su-57, as depicted in the painting above) have been finally abandoned. The two countries had agreed in 2007 that HAL would partner the Sukhoi Design Bureau in further developing and then manufacturing this stealth fighter for the Indian Air Force, and team of HAL engineers were seconded to Sukhoi in this context. The Government of India had also paid an initial $300 million for certain documentation but uncertainties continued, not the least because of the scope of design & development as also the IAF’s reduced requirement (halved to some 140 aircraft) and some short falls in performance but most importantly, uncertainty in numbers required by the Russian Air Force itself.
An Experts Committee headed by Air Marshal (retired) S Varthaman opined in 2017 that the FGFA programme would be complementary, and not competitive to the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) which is to be India’s fifth generation fighter developed by ADA at Bangalore. It is understood that financial limitations may have finally swung the case in favour of the AMCA, as also the Indian Government’s support of building indigenous capabilities. According to reports, Indian NSA Ajit Doval, who attended the recent meeting in Moscow along with Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra conveyed this decision to their counterparts; however, that India might possibly join the project later or procure the finally developed fighter after it has entered service with the Russian Air Force.