|Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft
|A Russian T-50, on which the FGFA is based|
|Role||Stealth Air superiority fighter/Multirole combat aircraft|
|Manufacturer||Hindustan Aeronautics Limited|
|Designer||Sukhoi/Hindustan Aeronautics Limited|
|Primary user||Indian Air Force|
|Program cost||US$30 billion|
|Developed from||Sukhoi PAK FA|
The Sukhoi/HAL Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) or Perspective Multi-role Fighter (PMF) is a fifth-generation fighter being developed by India and Russia. It is a derivative project from the PAK FA (T-50 is the prototype) being developed for the Indian Air Force. FGFA was the earlier designation for the Indian version, while the combined project is now called the Perspective Multi-Role Fighter (PMF).
The completed PMF will include a total of 43 improvements over the T-50, including stealth, supercruise, advanced sensors, networking and combat avionics. Two separate prototypes will be developed, one by Russia and a separate one by India. Russia agreed to the demand of the Indian Air force that it must be a two-seater fighter. The Indian version will be a two-seater for pilot and co-pilot/Weapon Systems Operator (WSO).
Following the success of the BrahMos project, Russia and India agreed in early 2007 to jointly study and develop a Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) programme. On 27 October 2007, Sukhoi's director, Mikhail Pogosyan stated, "We will share the funding, engineering and intellectual property in a 50-50 proportion" in an interview with Asia Times.
On 11 September 2010, it was reported that India and Russia had agreed on a preliminary design contract, subject to Cabinet approval. The joint development deal would have each country invest $6 billion and take 8–10 years to develop the FGFA fighter. In December 2010, a memorandum of understanding for preliminary design of the Indo-Russian fighter was reportedly signed between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), and Russian companies Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi. The preliminary design will cost $295 million and will be complete within 18 months. On 17 August 2011, media reports stated that the new fighter will cost Russia and India $6 billion to develop, and India will pay about 35% of the cost.
The Indian version, according to the deal, will be different from the Russian version and specific to Indian requirements. While the Russian version will be a single-pilot fighter, the Indian variant will based on its operational doctrine which calls for greater radius of combat operations. The wings and control surfaces need to be reworked for the FGFA. Although, development work has yet to begin, the Russian side has expressed optimism that a test article will be ready for its maiden flight by 2009, one year after PAK FA scheduled maiden flight and induction into service by 2015. By February 2009, as per Sukhoi General Director Mikhail Pogosyan, India will initially get the same PAK FA fighter of Russia and the only difference will be the software.
In 2010, a total of 500 aircraft were planned with options for further aircraft. Russian Air Force will have 200 single-seat and 50 twin-seat PAK FAs while Indian Air Force will get 166 single seated and 48 twin-seated FGFAs. At this stage, the Sukhoi holding is expected to carry out 80% of the work involved. Under the project terms, single-seat fighters will be assembled in Russia, while Hindustan Aeronautics will assemble two-seaters. HAL negotiated a 25 per cent share of design and development work in the FGFA programme. HAL's work share will include critical software including the mission computer, navigation systems, most of the cockpit displays, the counter measure dispensing (CMD) systems and modifying Sukhoi's prototype into fighter as per the requirement of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Sukhoi director Mikhail Pogosyan projected a market for 1,000 aircraft over the next four decades, 200 each for Russia and India and 600 for other countries in 2010. Russian Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko said that the aircraft are to be jointly developed and produced with India and both countries will "share benefits from selling the plane not only on their domestic markets, but also on the markets of third countries." The Editor-in-chief of Natsionalnaya Oborona, Dr Igor Korotchenko, said in February 2013 that exports of the jointly designed fighter should help Russia increase its share of arms exports to the world.
In 2011, it was reported that IAF would induct 148 single-seat as well as 66 twin-seat variants of the FGFA. IAF plans to induct the first lot of aircraft by 2017. By 2012, this had been changed to 214 single seat aircraft.
Delays and cost increases
In May 2012, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced a two-year delay in the project's development. The Defence Minister A K Antony had said that the FGFA would join the Indian Air Force by 2017. However, his deputy, M M Pallam Raju, told the Parliament that the fifth generation aircraft is scheduled to be certified by 2019, following which the series production will start. Ashok Nayak, who spoke on the record as HAL's chairman before retiring, explained that the IAF have required 40-45 improvements made from the PAK-FA to meet Indian needs. These changes were then formally agreed upon between India and Russia.
There is apprehension that the FGFA would significantly exceed its current $6 billion budget, because this figure reflects the expenditure on just the basic aircraft. Crucial avionics systems would cost extra. The Russian and Indian air forces each plan to purchase about 250 FGFAs, at an estimated $100 million per fighter for an $25 billion total, in addition to the development costs. By October 2012, India had cut its total purchase size from 200 to 144 aircraft. India's initial investment had grown from $5 billion to $6 billion, and the estimated total programme cost had grown to $30 billion.
In 2013, it was revealed that the Russian and Indian fighters would be using the same avionics. Alexander Fomin said that "Both sides involved in this project are investing a lot into it, and on equal terms." Russia later admitted to huge delays and cost overruns in the project. The first prototype delivery has been delayed by one or two years. The contract has not be finalised, and the IAF has accused HAL of giving away up to half of India's share of the development work. India contributes 15 percent of the research and development work, but provides half the cost.
India has "raised questions about maintenance issues, the engine, stealth features, weapon carriage system, safety and reliability".
Although there is no reliable information about the PAK FA and FGFA specifications yet, it is known from interviews with people in the Russian Air Force that it will be stealthy, have the ability to supercruise, be outfitted with the next generation of air-to-air, air-to-surface, and air-to-ship missiles, and incorporate an AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar. The PAK FA/FGFA will use on its first flights 2 Saturn 117 engines (about 147.1 kN thrust each). The 117 is an advanced version of the AL-31F, but built with the experience gained in the AL-41F programme. The AL-41F powered the Mikoyan MFI fighter (Mikoyan Project 1.44). Later versions of the PAK FA will use a completely new engine (17.5 kiloton thrust each), developed by NPO Saturn or FGUP MMPP Salyut.
Three Russian companies will compete to provide the engines with the final version to be delivered in 2015–2016.
Russian expertise in titanium structures will be complemented by India's experience in composites like in the fuselage. HAL is to be contributing largely to composites, cockpits and avionics according to company statements made in September 2008. HAL is working to enter into a joint development mechanism with Russia for the evolution of the FGFA engine as an upward derivative of the AL-37. Speaking to Flight International, United Aircraft chief Mikhail Pogosyan said India is giving engineering inputs covering latest airframe design, Hi-Tech software development and other systems.
By August 2014, the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) had completed the front end engineering design for the FGFA for which a contract had been signed with India's HAL in 2010. Preparation of contract for full-scale development is in progress.
Differences for FGFA
The FGFA will be predominantly armed with weapons of Indian origin such as the Astra, a Beyond Visual Range missile (BVR) being developed by India. Although in keeping with the Russian BVR doctrine of using a variety of different missiles for versatility and unpredictability to countermeasures, the aircraft is expected to have compatibility with various missile types. The FGFA may include systems developed by third parties.
The completed joint Indian/Russian versions of the operational fighters will differ from the current flying prototypes through the addition of stealth, supercruise, sensors, networking, and combat avionics for a total of 43 improvements.
Russia agreed to the demand of the Indian Air force that it must be a two-seater fighter. The Indian version will be a two-seater that will, "acomodate one pilot and a co-pilot who will function as a Weapon Systems Operator (WSO)."
Specifications (PAK FA and FGFA - projected)
Most of these figures are for the Sukhoi T-50 prototype and not the finished HAL FGFA.
- Crew: 1-2
- Length: 19.8 m (65.0 ft)
- Wingspan: 13.95 m (45.8 ft)
- Height: 4.74 m (15.6 ft)
- Wing area: 78.8 m2 (848.1 ft2)
- Empty weight: 18,000 kg (39,680 lb)
- Loaded weight: 25,000 kg (55,115 lb) typical mission weight, 28,300 kg (62,390 lb) at full fuel
- Max. takeoff weight: 35,000 kg (77,160 lb)
- Powerplant: 2 × NPO Saturn Izdeliye 117 (AL-41F1) for initial production, Izdeliye 30 for later production thrust vectoring turbofan
- Dry thrust: 93.1 kN / 107 kN (21,000 lbf / 24,100 lbf) each
- Thrust with afterburner: 147 kN / 176 kN (33,067 lbf / 39,600 lbf) each
- Fuel capacity: 10,300 kg (22,711 lb)
- Maximum speed:
- Range: 3,500 km (2,175 mi) subsonic
- Ferry range: 5,500 km (3,420 mi) with one in-flight refueling
- Service ceiling: 20,000 m (65,000 ft)
- Wing loading: 330–470 kg/m2 (67–96 lb/ft2)
- Saturn 117: 1.06 (1.19 at typical mission weight)
- Izdeliye 30: 1.24 (1.41 at typical mission weight)
- Maximum g-load: +9.0 g
- Guns: 1 × 30 mm internal cannon
- Hardpoints: 6 internal, 6 on wings
- Sh121 multi-functional integrated radio electronic system (MIRES)
- N079 AESA radar
- L402 Himalayas ECM suite built by KNIRTI institute
- 101KS Atoll electro-optical suite
- 101KS-O: Laser-based counter-measures against infrared missiles
- 101KS-V: IRST for airborne targets
- 101KS-U: Ultraviolet warning sensors
- 101KS-N: Targeting pod
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News reports and articles:
- Air-attack.com news
- India, Russia to develop fifth-generation stealth fighter
- HAL's Baweja: Two different prototypes of 5th Gen fighter, etc