FGFA or also known as Sukhoi/HAL PAK-FA is a fifth generation fighter aircraft which both nations agreed to develop in 2007. The jet was developed from T-50 which was the prototype and base for the FGFA, T-50 which was the original concept was more of a technology demonstrator and FGFA has many big improvements over the prototype which include better stealth, highly upgraded avionics and sensors, more powerful engine which provides with the ability to supercruise and better sensor fusion and networking capabilities.
After that a preliminary design contract was signed and both nations invested some 295 million dollars for the preliminary design phase and Indian version of the jet was different from Russian variant as Indian variant would be a twin seating jet. After that money was utilised on preliminary design some differences in the project work and the requirements were felt. IAF wanted some changes to its own version from version to fulfill IAF's requirements which differ from Russian requirements.
After the preliminary design phase the issues between the Indian and Russian side started to occur, the differences were over the growing cost of the project and the work sharing between Russia's Sukhoi and India's HAL. Also there were certain differences over the transfer of technology and other aspects of the deal. Also the project started facing delays and cost overruns as time passed and Russia decided to cut its own purchase numbers by a huge margin and decided to initially order just a small number of FGFA for itself.
In between all this India also decided to start its own fifth generation project called HAL AMCA or Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft which is being developed with help of technical expertise gained from the development of Tejas. The AMCA is being developed by DRDO and HAL & its subordinate agency ADA being the designing agency.
All these issues and the development of indigenous 5th gen fighters lead to strong opposition of FGFA program as many believed that the program was very expensive and that it would sabotage the indigenous AMCA program and that instead of going for FGFA we should spend the money on indigenous fighter. Also it was not clear if Russia would be giving full technology to India after spending equally on the project. Russia since then has agreed on full scale technological transfer.
Keeping all this in mind Indian MOD 6 months ago set up a panel to analyse if FGFA could be beneficial for IAF and whether the project should be continued with or not, the panel now has completed the study and according to top sources the panel has agreed to the point that FGFA would be beneficial for IAF and on the point that it would cause problems for indigenous AMCA the panel has concluded that not only FGFA would be a good jet but the technology gained from it would also help in development of AMCA and the absorbed technology would be implemented in AMCA. This would also help in speeding up the development of AMCA.
Both sides have agreed to 6.1 billion dollars in R&D and both will be investing 3.05 Billion dollars each for the development of the fighter. Russia has already been testing the prototypes which it has developed and now India will hopefully get its own prototypes and the testing of those can start as early as 2020. With Russia stating that the new more powerful engine which has been under development for FGFA will be completed by December of this year and then the flight testing with new engine can commence the 2020 timeline looks very suitable for Indian prototypes. The new more powerful and reliable engines will also provide the jet the ability to supercruise which the current engines were not able to provide & this was also a major conflict between Indian & Russian sides as Supercruise which is the ability of jet to fly supersonic without the use of inefficient fuel burning afterburners is a very primary requirement for IAF.
The final detailed contract for same is expected to be signed by year end formally and according to new timeline the Indian FGFA can see full scale production even before 2025.
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