Saturday, October 21, 2017

India Might Finally Terminate Their Stealth Fighter Program With Russia

A new report by Defense News states that India is extremely unhappy with Russia's supposed 5th generation fighter—better known as the T-50, or by its new production name the Su-57—that will act as the base for the sputtering FGFA cooperative fighter program between the two countries. The news comes after years of squabbling over the program, usually characterized by credible reports of the Indian Air Force's dismay with the qualities of the Russian aircraft. Now it seems as if the Indians want out of the program—which aimed for at least a 108 airframe production run—once and for all. Such a move could also be a result of New Delhi's changing geopolitical and military affiliations, in particular its deepening strategic relationship with the United States.
The Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) project between Sukhoi and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is a decade old. It originally aimed to create a variant of Russia's new stealth fighter with a number of alterations specified by India. These include potential enhancements to reach certain low observable (stealth) requirements, as well as particular avionics, communications systems, and weapons integration. A two seat version was also envisioned. The whole idea behind the concept being that the FGFA would leverage a fairly mature Russian next generation fighter design, and build upon it. The problem is that the design in question, the Su-57, doesn't appear to have the "bones" needed to modify it to meet India's expectations.
The T-50/Su-57's degree of low observability has always been in question. It is one of the most hotly debated topics on military aviation forums and I have described how the design balances some stealthy attributes against other features and weaponry, as well as cost and production capabilities. But time and time again India seems to have been doubtful that the base aircraft design could meet their FGFA requirements.
21/10/17 Tyler Rogoway/The Drive
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