Indian Air Force not happy with Sukhoi T-50/PAK-FA/FGFA

Indian Air Force (IAF) has now announced that it would not linger its association with Russia over the PAK-FA. This news came in as shock as the collaboration had aimed to develop a futuristic Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). IAF has decided to pull the chords down due to the loop holes that are now perceptible in the niche. Statements made by the Indian Air Force officials said that Russians would not be able to fulfill their deal with regard to the performance and the operations of the Sukhoi FGFA.

Besides the performance issues that may arise in future, the Sukhoi made stealth jet is of an exorbitant price and the architecture itself is poor and below the acceptable mark. The jet is powered by old and poor quality engines making it an unreliable and irrational weapon in the parade of the Indian Air Force.

India entered into the deal with Russia so as to strengthen India’s armory with the fifth generation stealth fighter and some other technology exchanges but magnified complaints, unacceptable engineering and greasy development of the stealth jet has brought the IAF to conclude the deal though New Delhi and Moscow has finalized a $6 billion bill to jointly develop the FGFA customized to suit the requirements of IAF.

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The sketch of the warplane on a white sheet seem to be an easy task compared to welding the different parts of the engine to build one and then get it working as per the specifications put forward by the Indian Air Force. The collaboration with Russia for the Sukhoi /HAL FGFA was considered to suffice to IAF’s future and therefore Defence Minister A. K Anthony had rejected the purchase of the American Fifth Generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Indian scientists had also stated that this collaboration will provide the required push for the development of the all-Indian fifth generation fighter, titled the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

However all the above said facts and figures do not seem to be applicable at the moment for the Indian Air Force has withdrawn the MoD with a complaint that the collaboration may not live up to the expected norms put forth at the time of proposal.

Sukhoi is working on T-50 versions one for Russian use and the other for Indian use, the whole plan of the development of the T-50 is solely dependent on India’s investment without which there would not be a T-50 in the picture at all. The Russian version of the T-50 is simpler than the Indian version. The Russian version comprises of the Indian Avionics along with an assorted range of compatible weapons. The Indian model on the other hand is still being sketched on paper. This is not the only cause of the disappointment as reported by Business Standard. The short falls with the FGFA has been observed at different sectors like performance, quality of the materials used, poor engineering of the engines and the technical features.

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IAF’s has several reasons to close down the MoD with the Russian FGFA, but the top three reasons as recorded in the minutes of the meeting were as follows:

1) Russians’ reluctance to share the design information with India and Indian Air Force
2) The engines of the fighter AL-41F1 are not as appealing as they just the upgraded versions of Sukhoi’s 30 MKI AL-31’s engines.
3) The exorbitant expenses involved in the project, a whopping $6 billion is what India is shelling out to co-develop the project, which would mean that a large part of IAF capital would remain locked up.

The Russian officials did have their counter arguments where they mentioned that the radar and the Al-41F engine is temporary and they would be developed eventually.

There were more short falls put forward by the IAF like the problems encountered with the quality control, the unpatched wings that may fall apart in cases of stressed maneuvers and the delay in the commencement of the architecture. When all these points are put together, the entire amount of the $6 Billion is relatively huge to pay up.

The reports have just summed up that PAK-FA MoD may be let down by the IAF. New Delhi is now looking forward for the new Rafale fighters from France and better prospects of the Indian Air Force.

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About Nischitha Sharath