India looks at a tight deadline to develop fifth generation fighter jets

India is looking at a very tight deadline to develop next generation fighter jets for its air force and is seeking to leverage its requirement of over 450 new combat aircraft in the coming decade to develop an aeronautical ecosystem with the participation of the private sector.

The Advanced Multirole Combat Aircraft (AMCA) project has been assigned an internal timeline to fly by 2027, which has been described as ‘very tight’ by the air force that is fully supporting the project. Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria has indicated that the first two squadrons of the fighters will be powered by an imported engine while the remaining five are likely to get an indigenous power plant.

As reported by ET, plans are afoot to create a joint venture, preferably led by the private sector, for manufacturing of these advanced jets, with the current deadline being set for 2028. Sharing details of the project, the air chief said that the plan is to induct 140-150 AMCA fighters in the coming decade, as well as additional LCA fighter jets.

The air force is also looking at adding sixth-generation technology on its AMCA fighters. “Directed energy weapons are on our wish list. What we want is to have some sixth generation technology on our fifth generation aircraft (AMCA),” the air chief said, adding that this could be in the anti-missile system application.

Listing out a number of aircraft manufacturing programs in the offing — from AMCA to LCA and a range of helicopters besides transporters and trainers — the air chief said that this is the best time to develop an industrial ecosystem that would require public-private collaboration.

As reported, India is likely to produce its next generation of fighter jets in a private sector-led JV, which could require investments of over Rs 2,500 crore from the selected company but would catapult it into a select league capable of manufacturing cutting edge aeronautical systems. India’s leading aero manufacturer, state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd NSE 0.46 % (HAL) is currently working out the costs involved and the structure of the planned JV.

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