Aero India 2017: New hope for Indo-Russian fighter aircraft

The Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft is back on the table for co-production and shared use by Russia and India as the latter sets up a committee for a comprehensive review of the FGFA, the chairman of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited revealed at the Aero India 2017 event in Bangalore.

“It is now up to Ministry of Defense to take a final call now,” T. Suvarna Raju said.

The FGFA program has lain dormant since the initial agreement between HAL and Sukhoi Design Bureau of Russia was signed in 2010 to jointly produce the aircraft. Under the deal, both India and Russia would use the fighter.

When signed, the final agreement will pave the way for the release of $6 billion for development costs and the go-ahead for an order of more than 150 FGFA by the Indian Air Force worth more than $20 billion.

LCA production
Raju also discussed the status of several HAL-manufactured aircraft and helicopters.

The chairman announced that the company’s production line will increase at a cost of $150 million to roll out more homemade light combat aircraft.

“From 2019, HAL will be manufacturing eight aircraft per year, which will be increased to 16 per year,” Raju said.
The Indian Air Force is expected place an order for 83 upgraded LCA-Mark-1A fighters — this in addition to the 40 LCA Mark-1 (basic model) already ordered.
So far HAL has delivered three LCA Mark-1 fighters; the remainder of the order will be delivered by 2020, Raju said.
An Air Force official, however, said HAL will not be able to keep its delivery timeline because 40 improvements have to be made to the LCA-Mark-1A. The improvements include active electronically scanned array radars, air-to-air refueling probes, externally fitted electronic warfare suites and a new internal layout to resolve maintenance issues.
HAL has also promised to reduce the weight of the LCA-Mark-1A so that the General Electric F404 engine can power the upgraded LCA-Mark-1A, the official said.

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