Development of stealth fighter aircraft moves East

Both China and India are developing 5th Generation stealth fighters; China on its own and India as part of a joint development programme together with Russia.


Chinese Chengdu J20 - 5th generation stealth fighter: image

Rumours from China’s Chengdu Aerospace Corporation (CAC) and the adjoining Aircraft Plant No 132 suggest that a flight of a Chinese-developed fifth-generation fighter prototype would take place by the end of the year. Reportedly, two airframes (numbered 2001 and 2002) have been assembled at the 132 plant.

In August 2008 it was reported that 611 Institute was selected to be the main contractor for the development of the fifth-generation stealthy J-20, and that 601 Institute was the sub-contractor. It was rumored that 611 Institute has started to issue manufacturing drawings for constructing the first prototype, which is expected to fly by 2012, even though the full configuration one won’t fly until a few years later. The latest rumor suggested that a full-scale mock-up had been built at CAC.


File:Pak fa.jpg

Sukhoi PAK FA T50: image wikipedia

Russia and India are jointly developing the Sukhoi PAK FA / T-50 , which first flew in January 2010. In June 2001, India was offered ‘joint development and production’ of this new 5th generation fighter by Russia. Russia had been trying to sell this concept both to China and India for some time. It seems probable that China declined to participate in this project given a belief that Russia stood to gain more from Chinese participation than did China. That is, it would seem that China had determined that it could produce a superior product without Russian help. With the first flight of the Russian stealth fighter in 2010, an arguably superior Chinese steath fighter might be expected to take to the skies not too long thereafter.

Chinese combat aviation has made remarkable strides in recent years, moving from a collection of obsolete aircraft that would have provided a target-rich environment to potential adversaries. Today China flies hundreds of first rate aircraft, and even flies more Sukhoi Flankers [the aircraft the American F-22 was designed to counter] than does Russia. The Chinese stealth fighter has arrived right on schedule. Chinese military technology is generally rated about two decades behind that of the United States. while the advent of a Chinese counterpart to the F-22 fighter might be disconcerting, the first flight of the prototype American F-22 stealth fighter came on September 29, 1990.

From the Hindustan Times:
New Delhi, December 21, 2010: India and Russia on Tuesday finalised a contract for the biggest defence programme in the country’s history — a $30-billion (Rs 1,35,000-crore) project involving the joint production of 200-250 fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA). The aircraft, being called the perspective multi-role fighter (PMF), will exploit the basic design of the Russian Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA prototype, with modifications thrown in to meet the Indian Air Force’s “more stringent specifications”. The 30-tonne aircraft will be a swing-role fighter with stealth features for increased survivability, advanced avionics, smart weapons, top-end mission computers and 360-degree situational awareness. What will put the co-produced fighter in a different league is its ability to supercruise, i.e. sustain supersonic speeds in combat configuration without kicking in fuel-guzzling afterburners. Currently, the US Air Force’s F-22 Raptor is the only fighter in the world that can supercruise.
The contract for the joint design and development of the FGFA was signed between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and two Russian firms, Sukhoi Design Bureau and Rosoboronexport. The fighter will be jointly marketed to international air forces. The first prototype flew its maiden sortie in January 2010 and has conducted more than 40 flights. The IAF hopes to induct it by 2018.
A joint statement issued by the ministry of external affairs said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed that the December 2009 pact covering bilateral military cooperation during the next decade would lead to a more substantive engagement cutting across joint research and development, manufacturing and marketing activities.
In the meantime DNA reports:

HAL Tejas at Aero India 2009

HAL Tejas: Image via Wikipedia

India today joined a select group of nations manufacturing warplanes with the home-grown Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas’ moving a step closer to its induction into the Indian Air Force after getting its Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) here. 

27 years after the project was initiated, defence minister AK Antony handed over the IOC certificate to Air Chief Marshal PV Naik at the HAL airport in Bangalore.

“This is only the semi-finals”, Antony said, adding the LCA would enhance national security and build the country’s own fighter aircraft capabilities.

The aircraft, with an investment of over Rs 14,500 crore ($3.2 billion), has been developed by DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Agency after battling technology denial regimes and sanctions for nearly three decades. “After crossing a number of challenges and accomplishing a significant series of milestones including weapon delivery, in over 1500 sorties, the country is poised for a major turning point with the declaration of the IOC,” Antony said.

The IAF has plans to induct a total of around 200 planes of which orders for the initial 40 have already been placed by the IAF.

The aircraft, which costs between Rs 180 to 200  crore ($45 million)  per piece, is presently powered by American GE-F 404 engine and the advanced GE-414 engines have been chosen for powering the LCA Mk II aircraft, which are likely to be developed by 2014.


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2 Responses to “Development of stealth fighter aircraft moves East”

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