During the recent visit of Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in December, a number of important agreements were signed, including a memorandum of understanding for preliminary design of the Indo-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), signed between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), and Russian companies Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi. The aircraft, to be jointly developed by HAL and Sukhoi is currently referred to as Perspective Multi-Role Fighter (PMF), and will be based on the Russian PAKFA (Sukhoi T50) design which has flown for the first time in February 2010.
Russia and India have maintained special relations since Russia became India’s leading source for combat aviation in the 1964s with the sale, and local production of MiG-21 fighters. “We are moving up to deep-rooted cooperation and joint development of advanced systems.” Viktor Komardin, deputy director general of Rosoboronexport and head of delegation in India said, “it does require a renewed level of trust. It is one thing to sell finished items or assemble them by license, and it is quite different to implement programs such as the fifth generation fighter aircraft”. The FGFA program is expected to be at the highlight of the Russian display at Aero-India 2011.
FGFA will introduce stealth capabilities, retain the high level of maneuverability beyond current generation fighters, it will be able to supercruise (fly supersonic speed for long duration, without using fuel guzzling afterburners). As a true fifth generation fighter FGFA will have a highly integrated avionics suits and stealthy network-enabled connectivity, enhanced situational awareness (utilizing passive sensors providing 360 degree spherical. Weapons will be carried internally to maintain low signature, with optional external carriage when required.
The development agreement covers the design, development, and necessary production engineering preparing for manufacturing of the aircraft in both countries. India stated its intention to field 250-300 of advanced FGFA type aircraft in the next decade, along with a future unmanned combat aircraft yet to be developed. Apart from the basic single-seat model, India is also planning to develop a two-seater version, to be used for training and special missions. A new engine, to be based on the Indian Kaveri core, providing higher thrust over the current Saturn AL-41F engine is also being considered by India for a later phase of the program.