India will soon have a combat aircraft rivalling Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II of the United States of America, China’s Chengdu J-20 and Russian Sukhoi Su-57. Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria on Tuesday announced that the development of 5th Generation advanced multi-role combat aircraft has been launched in a massive boost to the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) programme.
Pitching strongly for an indigenous weapons platforms to arm the Indian Air Force (IAF), ACM Bhadauria’s stress on India going ahead with its own 5th Generation stealth fighter means that IAF would not consider Su-57. He had on October 4, too, during a press conference made it clear that IAF would not go for any foreign-made 5th Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). Russia is actively looking for buyers for the Su-57 which has entered serial production and 76 fighters will start joining its aerospace force starting end of 2019.
The supersonic AMCA is being developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The all-weather multirole AMCA is likely to have twin-engines with stealth features. It will in all probability be single-seater combat aircraft.
Along with the Rafale, Sukhoi Su-30 MKI and Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, the AMCA will be IAF’s backbone in the coming decades. A naval version of the 5th Generation fighter will also be developed for Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers which currently operate the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29K.
According to IAF’s Air Staff Requirements (ASR) for the AMCA issued in April 2010, the aircraft must have a high degree of stealth, ability to carry weapons internally as well as externally, internal fuel capacity, be able to super cruise and perform the role of both air-to-air to air-to-ground attacks. With the AMCA will primarily engage targets at beyond visual range, it will also have a powerful thrust vectoring engine for supermanoeuvrability for better dogfighting capabilities.