India moves away from Russian Su-57 Felon and Su-75 Checkmate

The withdrawal was due to dissatisfaction with the fighter’s performance, especially with regard to its radar capabilities, the effectiveness of its stealth systems and general equipment.

The Security Committee of the Council of Ministers of India has authorized the launch of an ambitious project for the development of a fifth-generation fighter under the name AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft). The projected investment for this advanced aeronautics program amounts to 1.8 billion dollars, according to what was reported by Janes.

This strategic move entrusts Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the giant of the Indian aerospace industry, with the task of materializing the prototypes of the aircraft. This company will assume the preliminary studies previously carried out by the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization), a leading entity in research and development for defense in the country.

The schedule established for the delivery of the first five prototypes is demanding, with a deadline at the dawn of 2028-2029. To achieve this objective, Hindustan Aeronautics is expected to immediately begin the production of specific tooling for a new assembly line, as well as contracting suppliers to cover the complete assembly process within a period of six months.

India’s firm intention to forge its own AMCA fifth-generation fighter jet marks a clear departure from Moscow’s traditional influence in the arms sphere. This approach is reflected in the decision to reject Russian proposals for fifth-generation aircraft.

India improves its defense with the AMCA project.

The collaboration between Sukhoi and Hindustan Aeronautics in 2010 for the development of the Su-57, known then as PAK FA, was cut short in 2018 when India decided to abandon the project.

The withdrawal was due to dissatisfaction with the fighter’s performance, especially with regard to its radar capabilities, the effectiveness of its stealth systems and general equipment.

Despite the presentation of the Su-75 Checkmate by Russia, aimed at the Asian and African markets, including India, in 2021, the reception was lukewarm, evidencing a disinterest that highlights India’s decreasing dependence on military technology of Soviet origin.

The AMCA initiative not only represents a technological challenge for India but also a milestone in its military technological independence. Previous experience with the development of the Tejas fighter, which sought to replace the MiG-21, reveals the obstacles faced on the path to self-sufficiency in defense.

Despite having been launched in 1983, the Tejas did not make its first flight until 2001, entering operational service in 2015, which demonstrated the impact of technological advances on the program. Currently, the Tejas Mk2 is undergoing a thorough modernization.

This context underlines that an extensive track record in aerospace development is not essential for success in the creation of advanced defense technologies. A notable example is Turkish Aerospace Industries, which, with limited experience in aircraft such as the TAI Hürkuş training helicopter and the TAI Hürjet, managed to contribute significantly to the F-35 project and adapt the production of the F-16, culminating in the first KAAN flight in April 2023.

The Indian AMCA: Avant-garde in air combat technology

India’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) Project, led by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in close collaboration with the Indian Air Force (IAF), represents a quantum leap forward in the field of military aeronautics.

Conceived as a fifth-generation fighter, the AMCA incorporates the latest innovations in stealth technology, cutting-edge avionics and a network-centric operational capability, thus projecting a new dimension in modern air warfare.

This advanced fighter is equipped with cutting-edge radar stealth systems, including a serpentine air intake design that prevents detection of the engine blades by enemy radar and an optimized structure to minimize radar reflections.

Added to this is a comprehensive suite of advanced avionics, multi-mode radar, and sensors, boosting its ability to execute networked warfare operations and facilitate fluid and coordinated interaction with other IAF assets.

The drive for the AMCA lies in the design of its propulsion system, initially planned to integrate a pair of Kaveri engines capable of generating up to 110 kN of thrust each. However, the challenges faced by the Kaveri engine have led to the consideration of replacing it with a more robust and efficient alternative. This aircraft is designed to reach supersonic speeds at all flight heights, with a maximum speed estimated at Mach 2.5.

Power and Range: Expanded MCAA Capabilities

It is anticipated that the AMCA will have an approximate operational range of 2,800 kilometers without the need for refueling. This autonomy can be increased through aerial refueling or the use of external fuel tanks. Additionally, it is designed to operate up to a service ceiling of 60,000 feet, thus offering significant tactical advantages due to its ability to execute missions at high altitudes.

The AMCA arsenal will encompass a broad spectrum of ammunition, including air-to-air, air-to-surface and anti-ship missiles, complemented by a cannon for close-in engagements. The configuration of its internal weapons compartments is meticulously designed to preserve its stealth characteristics.

However, in situations where stealth is not paramount, the AMCA can be equipped with additional armament or external fuel tanks in hard points located on its wings, thus maximizing its versatility and response capacity in the theater of operations.