By Elton Gomes
India’s next indigenous fighter jet – the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) – is expected to make its first flight by 2032. Media reports mention that development work on the jet is underway. “The AMCA will feature geometric stealth and will initially fly with two GE-414 engines. Once we develop our own engine, it can be replaced with that. We expect the first flight in 2032,” a defence source said.
“There are two major ways of making a military platform stealthier. One is geometric stealth and other is material stealth. In geometric stealth, the shape of the aircraft is designed at such angles so as to deflect away maximum radar waves thereby minimising its radar cross-section. In material stealth, radar-absorbing materials are used in making the aircraft which will absorb the radio waves thus reducing the radar footprint. The AMCA will initially be based on geometric stealth, we can look at material stealth at a later stage,” the source said, as reported by the Hindu.
The Indian Air Force has allotted land to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to develop facilities for the project. The intent is to build on the capabilities and expertise established during the building of the light combat aircraft (LCA) and produce a medium fifth generation fighter aircraft.
At Aero India 2016, DRDO officials had said that the basic design configuration has been kept on hold after wind tunnel testing was completed. Three additional technologies – stealth, thrust vectoring, and supercruise – needed to be developed. This is India’s fifth-generation aircraft programme after it decided to not take things forward with the fifth generation project with Russia.
Indian Air Force likely to invite foreign military contractors
In March 2018, the Hindustan Times reported that the Indian Air Force (IAF) was likely to invite foreign military contractors to build fighter jets in the country under the Modi government’s Make In India initiative, a person in the know said. The multi-billion-dollar project to build 114 jets will be “directly linked” to the development of an indigenous AMCA, the person added.
Prior to the commencing of DefExpo-2018 — a military systems exhibition by the defence ministry — opens in Chennai, the air force was planning to issue a request for information.
“The document will not specify the number of engines the jets should have, leaving the field open for makers of both single- and twin-engine planes,” the person said on the condition of anonymity, as per the Hindustan Times report.
A previous plan involved two separate projects to build single-engine and twin-engine fighters in India but that plan has been suspended.
US offers to manufacture jets with India
As per an Economic Times report, the US could help India in filling a crucial gap in defence architecture by building planes that are needed to protect the country’s airspace, ambassador Richard Verma said. Verma added that the US and India had taken joint action against a “high-profile hacking group” operating in India.
“India faces a critical shortage of frontline fighter aircraft to patrol its skies and keep its airspace safe,” Verma said at an Observer Research Foundation event in Delhi. “Expanding our bilateral defence cooperation could help address that challenge. I see no reason why the United States and India cannot build fighter aircraft together, right here in India,” the Economic Times reported.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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