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Indian ‘Home-Grown’ AMCA, An Alternative To FGFA

 - June 13, 2013, 12:20 PM
India is developing an advanced multi-role combat aircraft despite its involvement in the fifth-generation fighter program.

Despite being involved in the fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) joint program with Russia, India is developing a next-generation fighter of its own–the advanced multirole combat aircraft (AMCA).

The Indian defense ministry’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) showed a large-scale model of the AMCA at Aero India 2013 in February, in Bengaluru. The aerodynamic shape has been considerably refined in comparison to an earlier model exhibited at Aero India 2011, and even more so when compared to a model for wind-tunnel testing shown at Aero India 2009, at which time it was “MCA” without being “Advanced.” This provides evidence that AMCA is being developed in parallel with FGFA. DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Establishment is leading the AMCA program.

Addressing the next-generation fighter issue, Air Marshall Norman Anil Kumar Browne, the Indian air force chief of staff, declined to compare the AMCA and FGFA, but insisted that “homegrown” projects shall be continued, especially in the area of mission equipment and fighter engines, since “nobody will give us these technologies.”

Browne also spoke in support of the light combat aircraft “Tejas,” despite the continuing slow progress of this indigenous fighter project, which has been delayed by some 20 years. He said the Tejas would attain initial operational clearance (IOC) at the end of this year and would be through final operational clearance in 2015, with the rider that the air force does not expect this airplane to fully meet specification until the advent of the Tejas Mk.2, with its entry-into-service planned for 2024.

The AMCA is likely to be powered by the Kaveri motor, also developed in-country. This engine had been conceived for the Tejas, but ran slower than expected and was eventually “detached” from the airframe effort. Instead, experimental and series production Tejas aircraft received the General Electric F404 turbine engine and later will get the more advanced F414.

The very fact that India continues with the AMCA is an indication that New Delhi has some concerns about the FGFA. Browne hinted that because of India’s late decision to join the Russian project, the FGFA is difficult to arrange as a 50/50 program, as the baseline airframe is too advanced for that. There are also some other fears, such as maturity of the Russian technology in certain spheres. In particular, the prototypes constructed so far feature extensive use of metal in their airframes, reflecting the gaps and shortcomings in the modern composite technology available to Sukhoi. At the same time, the homegrown Tejas has a 43-percent share of composites in its airframe.

Official information on the AMCA at Aero India 2013 was limited to a one-page leaflet with three views and key marketing terms, such as net-centric warfare, vehicle management (including weapons), data fusion, decision aids, integrated modular avionics, internal carriage of weapons, signature control with sharpening for low observability, AESA radar, IR search-and-track, supersonic persistence, high-speed weapon release and thrust vectoring. It was stated that the aircraft would be able to “swing roles” variously between long/short-range and air-to-air/ground strike.

According to press reports, scientist Dr. A.K. Ghosh heads the AMCA development effort. Some observers have suggested that, unlike the FGFA, the AMCA’s primary role will be ground attack, and so it will be a direct replacement to the MiG-27M and the Jaguar. Also, there are reports about a “revolutionary” pilot station employing a panoramic active-matrix display (or displays) with touch-screen interface and voice commands, and a helmet-mounted sight replacing, rather than supplementing, a head-up display.

The AMCA is likely to be an “electronically” actuated airplane rather than hydraulically operated. Instead of the digital flight-control computer, as used on the Tejas, the AMCA is to have a distributed processing system employing fast processors and smart subsystems that can pass over and combine the processing power available in them. This requires the employment of the IEEE-1394B-STD rather than MIL-STD-1553B databus standard. The new airplane is also planned to have a “central computational system connected internally and externally on an optic-fiber channel by means of a multiport connectivity switching modules.” Also mentioned are fly-by-light, electro-optic architecture with fiberoptic links for signal and data communications.


DRDO is incapable to handle such projects , MCA is on the drawing board for more than ten years. By the time it will be ready for flight test other nations will be offering us 7th gen fighters ,half of its cost.

AMCA got official funding only in 2012 , so stop crying that it was in development for last 10 years , original idea was "MCA" which was twin engine fighter jet with stealth elements , but IAF issued ASR and demanded Stealth aircraft with 5th gen technology , so the revision in design and final design is still not been frozen yet , model shown in Aero India 13 is one of the models which DRDO are working , so final design might differ and DRDO is still working on its final Design and will submit Final Proposal to IAF and MOD next year .

Wow, India wants to produce a stealth fighter jet superior to the T-50 and at least comparable in performance to the F-22. Congratulations.

the only concern with this project seems the timeframe in which it would be completed,and regular funding. India definitely capable of doing this indigenously unlike China who are copy cats with cheap tech.

india is building TEJAS aka LCA since 1983...and over 3000crores have been spent...still it has not got IOC..i am sorry to say(being an indian) that it is beyond india's aerospace capabilites to build an aircraft of this better to stop wasting money on such projects and buy from foreign vendors

So, how many years USA has taken in still incomplete F-35 project despite funding by several nations to technologically and financially rich USA? For your information for Tejas LCA programme , first funding came in only 1995. India started with scratch and 12 nos. 4th generation LCA with fly by wire technology are being flied daily by Air Force, without a single accident in last 10 years. For the fear of unsuccess, should we stop our effort.

@Dr Anant

Full fledged work on Tejas began only after funding in 1993. And IAF standards are too damn high. Any other country would have already given FOC to Tejas by now and later upgrade them in tranches.


Going by the Specification available on theory, FGFA would be more than a match from F-22.

AMCA will be more of a Ground Attack/Multi role fighter not comparable to F-22 or FGFA.

I must confess, this fighter looks awesome and world class. Imagine tejas MK2 with this air frame and design with single powerplant(of course i would prefer F414 EPE which is 120kn thrust) would be far better than F16. Still i suggest India should concentrate on AMCA and mean time induct tejas MK2 and convert all MK1 s as test beds for technologies to be used on AMCA

No use even developing AMCA if it is going to be inducted in only 2025 (That was an approximate before the project was put on hold, it now most probably be even more).

LCA Tejas lacs ingenious content - Designed with the help of Dassault , American engine, Israeli avionics and other smaller components such as Martin baker ejection seats foreign. The most Indian thing in it is the funding that went into it.

It isn't easy to jump from a plane which is considered only 3.5 generation to a 5th generation aircraft. AMCA will take a long time. It is better to concentrate on joint venture projects such as Sukhoi/HAL FGFA.

LCA Tejas is a very good plane with high standards of manufacturing and performance. Even a Developed nation takes atleast 20 to 25 years to develop a fighter aeroplane. Moreover being a short range single engined aircraft ment for tactical and small and limited wars its stands far better than JF-17 and JF-10 (PAKISTANI AND CHINESE).  This was ment to be a 3.5 gen plane and after rigorous hardwork we have 4.5 + Gen fighter. AMCA is a dreamproject of Indian Aviation for now if we somehow deliver it by 2030 then we wolud be doing something that even Americans failed to do in 20 years. 
Trust the russians...

all the best to engineers