Can India Make 5th Generation AMCA like F-22 Raptor
AMCA is designed by ADA and manufactured by HAL. AMCA will be a single seat, Twin engine, stealth multi-role fighter jet. First stage of AMCA is done and stage two work is started. It’s first flight is scheduled in 2025. It is supposed that it will consist of all modern weapons and modern avionics, some of them are under development and remaining taken from Tejas, Rafale, Su-30mki and other modern fighter jets. Speed of AMCA will be 2,655 km/h and this fighter jet will be powered by Kaveri engine which is under development stage. AMCA also consists of modern sensors, Radars, Missiles which will be a mix of Israel, India, Russia, France and some other technologies from India’s friendly countries too.
The broad requirements outlined for the AMCA are to incorporate a high degree of stealth, a high internal and external weapons payload, high internal fuel capacity, and the ability to swing from an air-to-air role to air-to-ground. It is also expected to have the ability to super cruise.
The initial design of the AMCA was a tailess, delta wing aircraft with twin engines.The design was changed to include horizontal and vertical stabilizers in design 38-01. It featured a double delta wing configuration, that was altered in design 38-09 similar to the F-22.
The aircraft will have a weight of 16-18 tons. 16-18 tons with 2-tons of internal weapons and 4-tons of internal fuel. Combat ceiling will be 15-km, max speed of 1.8-Mach at 11-km. The AMCA will be powered by 2 x 90KN engines with vectored nozzles.
AMCA also comes with self protection jammer system to jam enemy radar guided missiles from both air and ground. electronic counter measure systems to confuse the infrared guided missiles and a radar warning receiver too added to detect enemy radar frequency’s.
AMCA Like F-22 Raptor
AMCA is not going to be a dedicated air-superiority fighter like F-22. Rather it’s more like F-35 in purpose and role. Both are Multi-role. Also, both AMCA and F-35 are medium weight where F-22 is heavyweight.
F-22 is advanced a fighter and India has just started own advanced jet development. F-22 is a very secret technology and USA didn’t even export it to anyone, even NATO allies.
AMCA will not be as advanced as F-35 (for example, in aspects like network-centric capability, highly integrated software-defined character and Electronic warfare) or F-22 (for example, in aspects like high-degree stealth) but will be a balanced machine with decency in many of those aspects which is enough for India’s requirement.
I think, There will be mixed philosophies like stealth and supercruise (mainly western) and supermaneuverability (mainly Russian) so it will be a unique mix of interesting technologies of various origin (with constraint of Physics, obviously).
Same happened with Tejas. Tejas is a mix of the best 4/4.5 gen features of various origin fighters compacted in a small platform customized for India. IAF pilots are experienced using various origin planes and their feedbacks about better aspects of various aircrafts went into Tejas.
Following the similar philosophy, AMCA will be a mix of the best 4.5/5/5+ gen features of various origin compacted in a medium platform customized for India. But, as for 5th gen technology, there is no previous user experience, things will be based on technological speculations rather than practical experience and that’s an important reason why I have said that standard will not touch that of USA (at least initially) but will be world-class.
At the time USA started work on 5th gen fighter (beginning of 1980s), they had warplane development experience of about 60 years with two world wars. USA also developed stealthy aircrafts before F-22. India has modern fighter development experience of around 30 years and has no previous experience of stealth technology.
The HAL AMCA has integrated with latest avionics suite which include AESA radar,Integrated avionics systems,Helmet Mounted Display,Datalink capabilities,IRST,E/O Targeting System (EOTS),Multi-functional integrated radio electronics system (MIRES),ECM Suite,Laser-based counter-measures against infrared missiles,IRST for airborne targets,Ultraviolet warning sensors and Targeting pod.
Overall AMCA looks close to F-22 with a faceted shape making up the fuselage. The single-seat cockpit will seat behind a short nose cone assembly with angled, rectangular intakes fitted to either side and aft of the cockpit position. These openings will aspirate the twin turbofan engine arrangement found at the extreme aft section of the aircraft, arranged in a side-by-side formation. The main wingplanes will be set a midships and aft while being completed in a symmetrical trapezoidal form. The horizontal tailplanes will be featured directly aft of the mainplanes. Its weapons bay will be installed at the airframe’s center mass, slightly ahead of midships. Probably AMCA will have almost similar aerodynamic and energy – maneuverability performance like F22 raptor. The incorporation 3D thrust vectoring make AMCA extreme maneuverable. AMCA also can with stand departure resistants at a similar level like in F22.
The material with which the body is made is specially designed to absorb radar waves. It has another RAM coating too.This is a very critical technology. India probably has developed some RAM for using in MiG-21 and Rejas but this time much more advanced RAM is required. Development work is in progress:
The Electronic Warfare suite is probably developed (by the Defense Avionics Research Establishment with support from the Defense Electronics Research Laboratory). As India has already developed ‘Mayavi’ EW suite for Tejas, this thing should not be alien to India.
Net-centric warfare is the future warfare. As India is on its way to establish network-centric armed forces, AMCA will surely have net-centric capability. It may not be as advanced as F-35 initially but it has to be there for the future war scenario. In 2010 India has installed AFNET (Air Force Network)
AMCA is likely to have network-centric capability (aircraft sensor data fusion is also related) in this backdrop of technological activity. It’s not likely to be as developed as F-35 but I’m hopeful that something decent will come out.
ADA, DRDO, GoI and IAF have learned how to avoid delays from the experience of LCA program. In AMCA program, the approach has been changed fundamentally. For example:
a) specific requirement from customer are asked for
b) high involvement of numerous private firms from the beginning
c) modular approach for design, development and manufacturing (considering separate parts in parallel instead of the whole aircraft)
d) parallel teams: Design team (ADA, NAL), Core team for component development (various DRDO labs), manufacturing team (consortium of many firms) etc.
In 2017, 1:1 full scale model of the airframe has been built and most probably all the basic tests on it have been completed too in 2017 and it seems the test model has shown satisfactory stealth (along with other parameters). Because, ADA has issued a ‘Expression of Interest’ to Indian private firms to apply for building two ‘Next Generation Technology Demonstrator’ within 4 years this month (February, 2018). According to Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, IAF themselves has suggested ADA to launch a Technology Demonstrator before launching full-scale engineering work for the prototype.