Why India is not buying 5th Gen. Su-57 stealth fighters?
Su 57 “Frazor” is a complex platform to invest. India already withdrawn from the FGFA joint-development program in 2018 due to many reasons. The FGFA that was planned to be co-developed by HAL and Sukhoi was also expected to be the primary export variant of Su 57 that ensures the original Russian technology to be in the hands of the manufacturer. Unfortunately, when India withdrawn from the program, Sukhoi took the responsibility to develop the export version on its own.
While US and China already operationalised their 5th Generation fighters, Russia is still flying the prototypes for now. The developement also suffered various delays due to budget cuts and lack of funding. Fortunaely, the latest declaration of Russian President Vladamir Putin confirmed that Su 57 will enter in service soon with Russian Air Force with the fleet of 76 jets by 2028 but still it’s a long way to go.
Coming to the export variant Su 57E, it is a suprise for the world that Russia is offering its first 5th gen fighter to other nations while US and China refused to export the F22 and J20 (respectively) because they don’t want to share the critical technology with other countries.
(Note that F35 is open for export that is the 2nd 5th gen fighter jet of USA. J31 is the 2nd 5th gen fighter jet of China that is undergoing final tests is planned to be exported if countries approach to purchase)
Well, there is no final statement issued by India to reject Su 57. This month, a report from The Diplomat claimed that Russian defence ministry is keen to sell Su 57 to India. This creates a new table for talks regarding a 5th Gen fighter jet for India. Well, as we know that India withdrawn from FGFA program, it is quite possible India may choose the SU 57E only with customizations according to Indian requirements instead of creating its own variant.
But, we can’t predict the final decision at this time due to various pros and cons of this fighter jet. As your question states- “Why India is not buying 5th Gen. Su-57 stealth fighters?”, so I am going to mention the cons of the jet that may lead to its rejection.
Russian fighter jets have consistently been developed at a significantly lower prices than their American counterparts. Maintenance costs for Russian jets have also been considerably lower but the main problem comes in arranging the spares. Manufacturers like Sukhoi are criticised for their slow manufacturing and poor supply of spares due to delay of delivery.
Who knows better than a country who operates a majority of Russian jets in the Air Force inventory. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) reported various cases in which Russia fail to deliver spares for MiG 29 and Su 30MKI that also leads to grounding of jets for a period of time.
Even after being a stealth 5th Generation fighter and a Russian marvel, Su 57 is often regarded as “overrated”. Experts believe that Su 57 don’t withstand the capabilities for what it was projected. It is inferior when compared to its arch rival F22 “Raptor” in most of the characteristics.
Raptor has appreciable chance to win the BVR Combat. It is highly maneuverable and carries state-of-the-art electronic warfare and fly-by-wire system. It has a significant edge over Su 57 in case of stealth. Su 57 on the other hand owns a great maneuverable achievement It is equipped with an Infra Red Search and Track (IRST) that will help the pilot track and engage targets with infrared guided missiles.
F22 is battle proven. It served in the war-torn Syria and eventually carried various sorties and missions. Su 57 was once stationed in Syria to gather check its capability in a war-zone.
Politics. It changes day-to-day. Russia is said to be our all-weather friend but on the other hand, it tends to favour a country that invests “money”. China, even after having a good quality and growing aviation hub, shown interest in Su 57. It is actually concerning fact for India. In case if both India and China purchase Su 57, then it won’t be hard for Chinese Engineers to find the weakness of the jet and they may use it as a strategy against us. Russia sold various military equipments to China and also assisted it in manufacturing of various technology even after knowing that Indo-China relations are complicated. So, it’s simple to understand that Trust is what we need to ensure before having any deal with a foreign country, and specially with a country who favour money.
So, above are the possible reasons for India to reject Su 57E. In case if something is wrong, point it out in the comments section. If something is missing, do the same.