Progress Reported on Indian Version of Sukhoi T-50

 - February 1, 2016, 9:45 AM
Negotiations to create an Indian version of the Sukhoi T-50 PAKFA stealth fighter have reportedly made progress. (Photos: Vladimir Karnozov)

India and Russia have agreed on a cost reduction for the FGFA (Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft). Negotiations on co-development of an Indian version of the Sukhoi T-50 (Russian acronym PAKFA) had previously stalled, especially concerning the cost of substituting Indian content on the stealth fighter. But according to recent reports in the Russian media, progress was made during the visit to Moscow by Indian Prime Minister Narendra last December, although no announcement was made.

Each of the partners will invest $4 billion over the next seven years, including $2 billion each in the first year and the rest evenly distributed over the six years that follow. The total cost of development is now put at $10 billion, compared with $12 billion previously cited. The balance of $2 billion still required would be recouped from export sales, it is now reported.

United Aircraft (UAC) and Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) would be the industrial partners, with HAL having a workshare of at least 25 percent, and Bharat Electronics also playing a significant role. In similar fashion to the licensed production of the Su-30MKI for the Indian air force, the Indian companies will manage the replacement of Russian avionics, including mission and navigation computers; display and management systems; and self-protection systems. The result will be a considerably different aircraft from the PAKFA, and will effectively be the export version.

The Indian air force is seeking to procure 250 FGFAs. Earlier Indian sources  estimated the unit production cost at $100 million, similar to that of the Su-30MKI.

Meanwhile, the acceptance process for the PAKFA has taken one year so far, preceded by five years of flight trials. The Russian air force expects to receive its first aircraft next year, and to have 55 in service by 2020. Initial production aircraft will be powered by a pair of NPO Saturn/UMPO AL-41F1 turbofans (also known as "Item 117"). They will later be replaced by more powerful, reliable and efficient "Item 30" engines now in development by an industrial group supervised by the United Engine Corporation (Russian acronym ODK).