As J-20 Takes Flight, India Yet to Firm-up its Plan on Next Gen Stealth Aircraft
20:15 02.11.2016(updated 20:21 02.11.2016)
India watched with anxious interest the much awaited appearance of J-20 which is expected to provide long range, hard to detect strike capacity to the Chinese Air Force from 2018.
New Delhi (Sputnik) – Against the backdrop of soured relations with China, India's conundrum related to development of fifth generation fighter aircraft has deepened after Beijing exhibited its fifth generation stealth fighter aircraft J-20 to the world on Tuesday.
Analysts believe that the J-20 is best suited for the Asia Pacific region because of its large size that can enable it to carry more internal fuel. Capability to hit air bases and aircraft carriers without detection are a threat to a country like India.
"The J 20 is the China's twin-jet, fifth-generation fighter aircraft which is their second stealth fighter program. It is expected to be operational in 2018. China is pulling ahead in military aircraft production. It is of concern to India and India must accelerate its Advanced Medium Combat Stealth Aircraft (AMCSA) program with foreign help," said Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retired).
The Indian Air Force has proposed building an indigenous fifth generation stealth aircraft, the AMCSA, but it still remains at the conceptual stage. Sweden's SAAB has offered to help in development of AMCSA but is yet to receive a response from the Indian establishment.
Meanwhile, India is still deliberating over the joint development of a fifth generation fighter aircraft with Russia. Sources from Ministry of Defense said that India had sought some more clarity from the Russian side during a meeting held between defense ministers of both sides in New Delhi last week. India wants specific details pertaining to technology transfer and distribution of work in the joint venture.
"We have already committed to the FGFA, but we have only 15% of the work share and are paying 50% of development cost. With Russians and Chinese opting for SU-35 and many others too, and India carrying on with FGFA in which Russia has lost interest is not a very good idea," said Chopra.
Both countries had signed a primary agreement in 2013 but due to some differences, a research and development (R&D) contract for the FGFA has yet to take shape. Currently, the Indian Air Force has 33 squadrons of fighter jets against the mandated 42 squadrons required for a simultaneous war scenario with China and Pakistan.
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