HAL AMCA India’s fifth generation fighter update
Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is an Indian programme of a fifth-generation fighter aircraft. It is being developed by an aerospace industry team which consist of Aeronautical Development Agency as a design firm and to be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It is a single-seat, twin-engine, stealth supermaneuverable all weather multirole fighter aircraft. Unofficial design work on the AMCA started in 2008 with official work started in 2011 and completed in 2014. In 2008 Indian Navy joined the programme for the naval variant optimized for the aircraft carriers operation. The first flight is scheduled to occur in 2023–2024.
It is a multirole combat aircraft designed for the air superiority, ground attack, bombing, intercepting, Strike and other types of roles. It combines supercruise, stealth, AESA radar, maneuverability, and advanced avionics to overcome and suppress previous generation fighter aircraft along with many ground and maritime defences.
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. This allows the aircraft to travel at supersonic speeds with greater endurance as the afterburners do not have to be used with the additional fuel usage. Even though future air combat has been envisaged as being beyond visual range excluding the likelihood of aerial dogfights as before, the AMCA is expected to sport a thrust vectoring engine. The ADA is designed the AMCA as a platform with high survivability, to meet the challenges of future air defense environments through a combination of moderate stealth, electronic warfare capability, sensors and kinetic performance. The design philosophy seeks to balance aerodynamics and stealth capabilities.
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.
Currently more than 4000 employers assigned into the AMCA project,where they extracted from ADA, DRDO, HAL and some other leading private companies. The AMCA team identified three major technical works. Which are Thrust vectoring, super cruise Engines, Active radar’s and other processing system and the radar absorbent material.
India asks for a joint development of fifth generation engines with foreign nations. It’s reported India might need more than 2000 plus Engines for AMCA. India already has initiated a Engine project named Kaveri. India wants the new engine who powers the AMCA must be based on the Kaveri. In response many foreign nations responded for the Joint Engine development program.
Currently three countries tries to seal the AMCA engine development program. US, France and England offers their known engine companies like General Electric, Snecma and Rolls Royce respectively. GE from America offered engine development based on the F 414 engine, and the Snecma announced the M 88 engine who powers the Rafale and the Rolls Royce also offered the EJ 200 engine for joint development with Kaveri.
As per last known reports, US company General Electric leads in the program. who already supplying F 404 engines for LCA Tejas. GE also set ups manufacturing plants in India to produce aviation engines in India.
AMCA will use carbon-fibre composites (C-FC), and titanium alloy steels for construction. The AMCA would employs C-FC materials for up to 80% of its airframe by weight, including in the fuselage (doors and skins), wings (skin, spars and ribs), elevons, tailfin, rudder, air brakes and landing gear doors. Composite materials are used to make an aircraft both lighter and stronger at the same time compared to an all-metal design, and the amca’s percentage employment of C-FCs is one of the highest in an aircraft. Apart from making the aircraft much lighter compared to conventional metal airframed aircraft, There are also fewer joints and rivets, which increases the aircraft’s reliability and lowers its susceptibility to structural fatigue cracks. The majority of these are bismaleimide (BMI) and composite epoxy material. The aircraft will be the first mass-produced aircraft to include structural nanocomposites, namely carbon nanotube reinforced epoxy. Stressed ducts in s-shape are locked with airframe with the loaded bulkheads which are made of composite materials spanning the aircraft from air intake to engine shafts
The design of the AMCA includes a very small radar cross-section & will also have serpentine like air intakes, internal arsenal as well as the state-of-the-art radomes in order to enhance its stealth feature. The design will also be supplemented through radar-absorbing composites as well as paints.
The front end of AMCA comprising the cockpit and radome as well as the air intakes—seems much closer to the Boeing X-36 unmanned research aircraft. The rest has resemblance to F22 raptor.
AMCA also optimized to reduce acoustic signature as well as reduced visibility to the naked eye.
The design based stealth characteristics of the aircraft will include
Optimized edge matching,
Body confirming antennae,
A low IR signature all the way through nozzle design
AMCA’s primary purpose is Multi-role fighter capability which includes Air superiority mission, Attack mission, Strike role, Precision targeting, Interceptor, and Bombing mission. As AMCA is intended to replace Sepecat Jaguar and Dassault Mirage 2000 which are assigned role of Multi-role aircraft with mainly Fighter bomber role. It will fill the role along with the Attack aircraft role as it is also going to replace Mikoyan MiG-27 and Mikoyan MiG-23. As the aircraft has the capability to launch missile at Super sonic speed, it will be assigned to Carry out Precision strike. Nuclear Strike would be also carry out by the aircraft as the role would be inherited from Dassault Mirage 2000. As a Multi-role fighter, it will carry a Dedicated advance equipment to carry out SEAD missions and Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses(DEAD) missions which will contribute up to 30 % of its mission profile.
The AMCA will incorporate an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) which, the official illustrations indicate, is also mechanically steerable. This is an advantage as the beam manoeuvrability of an AESA can be stretched to a broader detection area.
The AMCA may host new generation GaN (Gallium Nitride) based AESA for superior detection and performance. Some information’s reported that, state owned LRDE is initiated a project to develop a small size air borne X band GaN based AESA radar for AMCA. LRDE already shows a model of AESA radar in last year’s Aero India exhibition. The use of GaN will give significant benefits of power density, efficiency, and bandwidth to AMCA. Furthermore the use of GaN will solve substantial system-related issues, such as the need for higher operating voltages, more efficient heat removal techniques, and high reliability
The under development Uttam AESA radar intended for Tejas LCA is not good for fifth generation fighters like AMCA. It’s reported earlier that, India and Israel working for a joint project to develop a GaN based AESA for fighter jets. However due to the importance of the program the information’s are highly classified. The Uttam is GaAs ( Gallium Aresenide) based radar.
The infrared based systems like IRST, missile warning systems, laser warning system also added internally in the AMCA. The IRST sensors are placed in all sides of the AMCA to provide full angle coverage like in Rafale and F 35. The proposed IRST system is work similar to the F 35’s EOTS who shares the information’s to friendly units like via the satellite and highly secured data links.
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.
The Senor suites in AMCA led by the LRDE and BEL which include many private and foreign contributes.
Propulsion and Avionics
AMCA is a twin-engines aircraft which is powered by 2X GTRE k9 + or K 10 engine that can capable of producing 11-Kn-125Kn thrust each.The aircraft has a maximum take off weight is 29 tonnes:2 tonnes of internal weapons and 4 tonnes of internal fuel.It can achieve maximum speed of 2.5+ Mach (2665 + Km/h) at altitude and Mach 1.2 at sea level and have a cruise speed of Mach 1.6 at supercruise.The AMCA would have range of 2800 km and climb at the altitudes @ 13,716m/min.
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 armaments includes 23 mm GSh-23 cannon gun and 8 hardpoints in stealthy configuration and 12 maximum hardpoints id non stealth load.The aircraft is mounted with Astra missile for long range BVRAAM combat ,Python 5 all aspect short range missile and Vympel R-73 short/visual range combat missile.
Protection and self repair
AMCA will boost capabilities such as Self-protection and self-repair with the help of self-diagnosing and self-healing by distributing the work load to other system from affected to non-affected system. Protection would be provided with the use of Nanotechnology to produce advance composite materials to withstand higher resistance to damage and therefore reducing the damage surface area. Chairman of DRDO D.r. V.K Saraswat confirmed that aircraft will use Self Repairing Flight Control Capability”, will be used in the aircraft to automatically detect failures or damage in its flight control surfaces, and using the remaining control surfaces, calibrate accordingly to retain controlled flight.
It’s Reported the AMCA will be ready by early 2020 or before and HAL starts flying the first flight of fully developed AMCA by 2021. with the initial low rate initial production by 2024. And the air force gets the first AMCA squad by 2025. If all things goes per schedule