India and Russia Confirm Joint Fighter and Transport Projects

 - October 14, 2010, 1:54 PM
India and Russia are jointly developing a multirole transport aircraft. The airplane is still on the drawing board, but Russian manufacturer Ilyushin showed a scale model of its version at Farnborough in July.

India will join Russia in the development of a fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) as well as a multirole transport aircraft (MTA). At a meeting in Delhi, the defense ministers of both countries confirmed the projects, although India has not yet signed a draft $300 million preliminary design contract for the FGFA. The MTA agreement was signed last month, when Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and United Aircraft Corp. (UAC) each agreed to invest $300 million. India will receive 250 to 300 FGFAs, and 45 MTAs.

The fighter airframe has already been designed and flown as the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA, so India’s involvement in development might be limited to avionics and navigation systems. Despite 10 years of discussions and previous agreements, the transport aircraft is still on the drawing board, with no confirmed powerplants, although both HAL and the Ilyushin Design Bureau have shown a series of scale models over the last decade. Ilyushin displayed the latest Russian configuration at Farnborough last July (see picture).

India and Russia previously developed a supersonic cruise missile together–the BrahMos. Ship- and ground-launched versions are in production, and the air-launched version has been flown in Russia on an Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi Su-30MKI, according to Indian reports. India is likely to purchase another 42 Su-30MKIs, for a total of 270, including licensed production. A repeat order for 29 carrier-capable MiG-29Ks was placed earlier this year. Indian defense minister A.K. Anthony said that satisfactory solutions to disputed contracts are pending. Disputes include the late and over-budget transfer of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov to India, and costly spare parts for the Su-30. Russian defense minister Anatoli Serdyukov said he awaits Indian decisions on the purchase by India of 22 attack helicopters and 15 heavy-lift helicopters.