|FGFA / PMF|
|A Russian T-50 (Su-57 prototype), on which the FGFA is based.|
|Role||Stealth Multirole/air superiority fighter|
|National origin||Russia / India|
|Manufacturer||Hindustan Aeronautics Limited|
|Introduction||After the Su-57 enters service|
|Primary user||Indian Air Force (intended)|
|Program cost||US$30 billion (projected)|
|Developed from||Sukhoi Su-57|
The Sukhoi/HAL Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) or Perspective Multi-role Fighter (PMF) is a fifth-generation fighter aircraft, based on the Russian Sukhoi Su-57, being jointly developed by Sukhoi and HAL for the Indian Air Force. While the programme was earlier called FGFA, the combined project is now referred as Perspective Multi-Role Fighter (PMF).
The completed FGFA is to include a total of 43 improvements over the Su-57, including advanced sensors, networking and combat avionics. The Indian version would be also a two-seater with pilot and co-pilot or weapon systems operator (WSO).
Reports indicated that India withdrew from the FGFA programme in 2018, but also hinted that the project could be resumed at a later date, when the Su-57 is fully operational in the Russian Air Force first. However, in August 2018, General Director of United Aircraft Corporation Yuri Slyusar claimed that the FGFA program was not cancelled and India is still working with Russia and sending questions to Sukhoi about the future aircraft.
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 be based on its own 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,[needs update] the Russian side has expressed optimism that a test article will be ready for its maiden flight by 2009,[needs update] one year after PAK FA scheduled maiden flight and induction into service by 2015.[needs update] 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% 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, 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.
Project changes and delays
In May 2012, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced a two-year delay in the project's development. The then 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,[needs update] because this figure reflects the expenditure on just the basic aircraft. Crucial avionics systems would cost extra. The Russian and Indian air forces each planned 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 2012.[needs update]
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.[needs update] 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% 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". After repeated delays in the fighter's design and workshare arrangements, the Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said in January 2015, "We have decided to fast-track many of the issues." The HAL is to receive three Russian prototypes, one per year from 2015 to 2017 for evaluation.
On 9 March 2015, media outlets reported that the countries agreed to reduce the aircraft delivery time from 92 months to 36 months with the signing of the final agreement. India is also ready to forego a 50:50 work share to prevent further delays from absorption of a new technology; both countries agreed to manufacture the first batch of aircraft in Russia and for subsequent batches to be manufactured by HAL.
By 2016, Indian interest in the project was fading after Russia cut back their own purchases. On 25 January 2016, it was reported that Russia and India have agreed to develop FGFA and lower investment cost to $4 billion for each nation. They will invest $1 billion in the first year and another $500 million per year for the following six years. In September 2016, the two nations announced a detailed work-share agreement for joint production.
In May 2017, another announcement came out regarding a "milestone" pact to finalise the detailed design for the fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) and move ahead with the multibillion-dollar co-development project. It is expected to be signed in the second half of the year. Then later that month the project appeared to be lost when the Russians suddenly demanded seven billion dollars that the Indians could not afford. An Indian committee has reportedly been set up to evaluate need for FGFA in light of the price increase and progress on the HAL AMCA project.
India's reluctance to continue programme
On 2 September 2017, the Indian Air Force cited demanding maintenance programs, and high maintenance costs as main reasons behind its reluctance to proceed with the project.. India prefers to produce its own fifth-generation fighter to maintain parity with China's air force that has recently debuted the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter.
On 20 April 2018, it was reported that India had left the project. India officials reported that they became increasingly disappointed with the project's progress after long years of negotiations, delays, and struggles with Russian contractors. They asserted that they were not satisfied with the capabilities of the Su-57, the foundation for FGFA's development, among many things the degree of low observability allowed by the design being the biggest of issues. However, Indian officials did not rule out the possibility of relaunching the FGFA project once the Su-57 is fully introduced into the Russian air force, or later acquiring the fully developed platform.
On 19 August 2018, it was reported that the FGFA program was not cancelled; the General Director of United Aircraft Corporation Yuri Slyusar denied the previous reports saying "the topic is not closed" and that Russia and India are still discussing the creation of the fifth-generation fighter.
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 (107 kN thrust each, 176 kN in full afterburner), 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
When complete, the FGFA would've been 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 was expected to have compatibility with various missile types. It was reported, the FGFA would include systems developed by third parties.
The completed joint Indian/Russian versions of the operational fighters would've differed from the then flying prototypes through a total of 43 improvements.
Specifications (PAK FA and FGFA – projected)
Most of these figures are for the Sukhoi T-50 prototype and not the finished HAL FGFA.
- Crew: 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, 29,270 kg (64,530 lb) at full load
- Max. takeoff weight: 35,000 kg (77,160 lb)
- Fuel capacity: 10,300 kg (22,700 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 / 110 kN (21,000 lbf / 24,300 lbf) each
- Thrust with afterburner: 147 kN / 176 kN (33,067 lbf / 39,600 lbf) each
- Maximum speed:
- Range: 3,500 km (2,175 mi) subsonic
- 1,500 km (930 mi) supersonic
- Ferry range: 5,500 km (3,420 mi) with one in-flight refueling
- Service ceiling: 20,000 m (65,000 ft)
- Wing loading: 317–444 kg/m2 (65–91 lb/ft2)
- Saturn 117: 1.02 (1.19 at typical mission weight)
- izdeliye 30: 1.23 (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
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
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