Coming up: WHAT'S HAPPENING TO THE INDO-RUSSIAN FIFTH GENERATION FIGHTER PROGRAMME? The comprehensive inside story, on Broadsword - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Monday 28 December 2009

Coming up: WHAT'S HAPPENING TO THE INDO-RUSSIAN FIFTH GENERATION FIGHTER PROGRAMME? The comprehensive inside story, on Broadsword

Speculative drawings of the PAK FA, the 5th generation fighter that India and Russia could soon co-develop. No authentic drawings or pictures of the PAK FA have been released so far.


  1. Hi ajaiji, Can you let us know what happened to the MCA? Is MCA being merged into FGFA or will it be a separate project undertaken by ADA?
    Thanks in advance.

  2. CH is said to fly within december. any news on that ?

  3. Eagerly waiting for the article.

  4. Whats with hype building Ajai? When you're ready with the article, just post it and be done with it.

  5. hi ajai

    Please tell us about the cost of the 5th gen fighter project (R&D cost) and the % of that bill that India is going to foot. Also can you please tell us if it is going to be a partnetship agreement is going to be like Brahmos where we cant sell any of the planes but will foot 50% of the development costs.

  6. what is happening to the indo Russian fight generation program .....

    hmm sounds some bad news on the way..
    if you had put it as
    what is happening to the indo russian figth generation Figther then it is fine. but you are talking about project...

    having fingers crossed

  7. Dear Ajaiji,

    Wishing you a happy & prosperous new year.


  8. Anonymous 01:00:

    This is not hype! It's a way to gauge what specific points visitors are interested in, so that they can --- if possible --- be included in the article.

    If you don't have any views on the subject, just move on to another website... why post grouchy messages?

  9. Hi Ajai

    Also tell us about the Design/learning curve that we are going to get out of the project, Given the fact that the fighter design was already frozen. How much of learning/design change does it take to make it as a twin seat fighter.

    Is there a real need for IAF to have twin pilot version of the bird or is it being done for the sake of learning curve?

    Is any of the design work like sheath technology being done in our labs here in India.

    How about the engine? did GRTE fellows get a chance to do any co development or learning that may help expedite Kaveri?

    I hope the MoD bafoon's did some justice to our tax payers money by signing a legally binding contract to protect our interests.

  10. Finally some news on the FGFA front.
    I am sure that the project is highly classified so not sure how you will get all the data, but it would be nice to know a few things.

    1) What has been India's contribution to this project apart from writing a cheque? ToT?
    I know India joined this program late, as usual, and lost a lot of design and analysis insight that would have come with being a partner in this project from the scratch.

    2) Do you have any specific information about the AESA radar that would be mounted on this plane. What about the ECM and stealth features? Will this get newer generation weapons onboard.

    3) What has been the cost vs stealth approach that has been taken?

    4) What does this mean for MCA? Is MCA now just an offshoot of FGFA?

    5) How does the FGFA fare againts F22 raptor? I know this is a meaningless question as the F22's specs are also classified but still...

    Awaiting eagerly for the article.

  11. Ajaiji, in the article that you write, please enlighten us on the MCA also. Much like the LCA, thats another very ambitious project requiring another leap of faith from the IAF.

    If not the article itself, do post a few lines on this in the comments section.

  12. - Ajai im glad to see news being published on the 5th gen fighter, i was wondering when the plane was going to begin testing.

    My real concern is how will the joint program affect future programs of the Indian Airforce

    a. the MMRCA deal- Will there be strings attached? similar to what is going on with the F-16 and F-35?

    b. Considering the attrition rates of the IAF - how will the IAF ensure the already low squadron numbers wont drop further?? MMRCA/MCA/5th gen prog wont see planes hit the tarmac in effective numbers till minimum 2015+

    c. Where is the MCA program- similar question to VK.

    d. The Joint program- is it really a joint program? or do we just provide the cash and a few technology bits? In which case the Russians hold the best hand forcing us to cough up more cash in return??

    - that is all that comes to mind- Thanks for your blog, I am an avid fan!

    and Happy Holidays :)

  13. Dear Ajai,

    There is very little info on FGFA available in public domain - even though it is the most eagerly awaited projects by aviation enthusiats.
    Thanks in advance for taking this initiative to cover FGFA!!

  14. That's a good one Ajai. Such people should be barred from writing comments. Please carry on with the wonderful work you've been doing.

    Best Wishes

  15. Ajai, I've been following your blog since a long time and have come to appreciate your simplistic way of presenting facts and the way you explain the most complex technical details without any using any jargons.

    But of late, I've seen that you've donned a rather arrogant avatar, stomping visciously on even the most innocent of questions. No, I'm not talking about those pompacious guys who thinking they are the next gen army generals straight out of those silly video games.

    Please do not become one of those tight assed 'been there, done that' guys which you find on Bharat Rakshak. Yes, sorry to break this out to you, but there are people on earth who don't know as much as you do. Be polite. If you find the questions or arguments too silly to merit a patient reply, politely ask them to read more on that matter or simply do not reply at all.

    You may delete this comment as I do not intend to get it published. Just wanted to send this message across to you.

    - Your die hard fan.

  16. Shukla Ji,
    Along with the PAK-FA, can you also do a article on the LCH(which was supposed to fly this month as per some reports).
    Anyways coming to the present article. I would like to know the differences between the Russian variant and Indian variant. Specifications for both planes would be even better. What % of work is being done by the Indian Companies and on what parts of Aircraft.

  17. Ajai sir, 4rm whatever i can make out of this plane

    1. PAK FA prototyped Sukhoi T-50 when fully developed is intended to replace the MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-27 Flanker in the Russian inventory. What abt India, which aircraft will it replace.

    2. It will be a stealth aircraft with ability to supercruise, carry next generation air-to-air, air-to-surface, n air-to-ship missiles, advanced AESA radar.

    3. The Indian FGFA will have be similar but will have Thrust Vectoring Control (TVC)

    4. The Indian FGFA will carry a heavier payload and probably will have longer range with refueling.

    Ajai sir can u pls update me on anyrhing extra

  18. Hi,

    Read somewhere that the "taxi runs" of the PAK-FA (Russian version) have been completed successfully (two of them) last week. For the first flight - it just says in Jan 2010 ( no specific date).

  19. Can you tell what specifically will be the Indian contribution? From the articles on net, I gather that fgfa would basically be twin seater pak-fa with only avionics being Indian. Could you shed some light on any other Indian contribution, if any?

    Also, first flight of LCH was supposed to have taken place by Dec end. Any updates on that front?

  20. Dear Ajayji,

    Would be interested in knowing what exactly India will benefit as being part of the program rather than buying it/ F 35 off the shelf. Is there going to be an Indian Derivative. Will russia transfer key technologies or is it going to be just a farce like Brahmos?

  21. Hi Ajai,
    It would be good if you can cover following points in your upcoming article:-

    1) What is the Design Work Distribution between the two countries? What weakness of India gets taken care off?

    2) What is the Production Work Distribution between the two countries? What level of investment in what PSU(HAL?) are we going to make for the precision engineering required in this advanced aircraft?

    3) Level of Involvement of the Indian private industry?

    4)Are the ASTE pilots going to be involved in the testing of the aircraft?

  22. ajai, that anon was the grinch, trying to steal your christmas !

  23. We would like to know the exact difference between the PAK-FA and the FGFA(Indian Version).. With emphasis on Avionics Suite, Cockpit..

    Would also appreciate if India is involved in any way with the PAK-DA-Bomber aircraft(Like direct procurement plans or involvement in designing an indian version )

    Few words on what MTA means for india aswell..

  24. All right . But why have you now started writing about traffic in Delhi (of all the things in the world)?. Moving away from being a defense journalist ?

  25. Ajai ji,

    waiting eagerly for your post.

    request you to provide as many details as possible.

    Also wishing you a very Happy New Year also.

    Anonymous @ 01:00:
    Please launch your own blog and post old news. That way we will have no hype. :)

  26. Sir can you then also talk about,Why India or Indian version is a two seater one.Given that we face a pilots shortage and modern planes tend automate many pilot stuff!

  27. I fear --- after reading your list of desires! --- that many of you will be gravely disappointed by my article on the FGFA. Many of the things that you want to know about are still being negotiated between India and Russia.

    Also, for those of you who want to know all about the MCA... is it being merged into the FGFA, etc... the answer is NO.

    The MCA will be an entirely indigenous effort. The FGFA is a joint development.

    Which brings me to the next point, one on which there is a high degree of misinformation amongst my otherwise learned viewers. A co-development programme does not mean that every system and sub-system is developed by joint teams incorporating designers from both partner countries. In a co-development programme, the partners each work separately on those parts of the programme on which they are individually strong.

    In many such programmes, there is an arrangement for exchange of designers, so that one or two designers from one country can sit in on the work being done by the partner country designers. But, in most cases, he/she is not designing; he/she is just watching and listening and hoping to pick up expertise. Most of the time, he/she doesn't.

    The Brahmos is a prime example. India has designed most of the systems to the front of the missile, and those needed to launch and control it. Russia has handled the rear, including the propulsion system. India got a great deal out of the Brahmos and learned a hell of a lot. The Brahmos, in my opinion, is a fine product from a fine development partnership.

  28. Ajai Sir,

    I have a question that I have been dying to know for a very long time.

    Can you answer it, out of F-22, F-35, F-117 and FGFA, which aircraft has the smallest radar cross-section?(I know that 117 is not in U.S. service right now)

    I want to know it because the stealth is the most distinguishing feature of a fifth gen. a/c. Given that radar tech. is improving every day an a/c with the smalled RCS should have an advantage over others.

    Thank You,

  29. If the FGFA is like Brahmos than great. Give us some new information in that article. Like who the FGFA will be different from PAK FA. Something about its capabilities. think Indiians have already know much of PAK FA's capabilities.

    Eagerly waiting for ur article...

  30. Wah Ajay-ji. Just a headline and 27 comments. :) We are indeed waiting with bated breaths.

  31. Ajai,

    You should also write an article about MCA, timelines etc.

  32. Hi ajai ji..pls tell me if this is true,first ,that the taxy trials have already begun and the first fight is due early next year.

    Secondly indian scientist hv missed bulk of the design stage resulting in the loss of know-how and valuable experience of the most critical stage of the cycle.
    That they will provide tech in composites only.

    thirdly the reason Russia is obliging is because they need funds for sustaining the project.
    thank you..

  33. @Broadsword

    "The MCA will be an entirely indigenous effort. The FGFA is a joint development."

    So is MCA a 5th gen desi stealth plane or a 4+ gen desi stuff? What value does it add if we are getting the FGFA in the same timeframe?

  34. wonderful Ajaiji ! would be great if you could also cover the MCA story so far and what is the current status of that program. really appreciate your articles, and look forward to seeing more on the LCH, MCA and FGFA !

  35. AK, what value does it add there are cars as well as buses and motorcycles on mumbai roads ?

    what value does the F-35 add when USAF already has the much better F-22 ?

    different needs, different solutions right ? same with MCA and FGFA.

    compare the MTOW of the two for a start, you will understand.
    FGFA is a heavy fighter with a MTOW of more than 30 tonnes. think of it as a 5 gen su-30mki. with 2 seats and high costs IAF can't afford to have an all FGFA force.

    MCA will be the medium end, with a MTOW around 20 tonnes. think of it as a 5 gen MRCA.

  36. FGFA is easily 6 years away from even the prototype flying. If we do indeed manage to miraculously overcome the lethargy and have at least one MCA prototype flying, it would be a true achievement. Unfortunately, we seem to be waiting to learn airframe design (specific to the incorporation of LO stealth or RCS reduction). If we do indeed have the LCA Mk2 up and flying by then, the initial apprehensions over the engine's reliability will be sorted out. Not sure if we are already working on the MCA ASRs because the IAF will rewrite those at least twice as well. FGFA might just about prove to be the launching pad for our capabilities to build better airframes (given that we're doing ok in terms of avionics and other sub-systems).

    What India needs is hope. )

  37. Any new about the LCH? I was supposed to fly by Dec 29th

  38. Finally !

    1) Was India promised RCS below a certain threshold when it signed the cheque or was it any amount of stealth would do arrangement? As we know stealth is not a distinct barrier.

    2) Is it directionally stealth e.g. Front and side rcs etc etc or Isotropic stealth?

  39. Ajai ji,

    Could you update on developments on Tejas & LCH?


  40. @AK
    The MCA may not arrive in the same time frame (if ever) as the FGFA

  41. Are our tax payers going to get a 50% share of the FGFA jets sold to other countries as we have contributed to the R&D development. Most importantly can we block the sale of the planes/engines to countries like China as our money has gone into its design. Hope our MoD didn't compromise our national interests while signing the agreements.

  42. "Most importantly can we block the sale of the planes/engines to countries like China as our money has gone into its design."

    Hu owns most of the plane. Putin forgot to tell India.

  43. sir jee kab publish hoga article..... I'm waiting ...!!!!!!!

  44. RE Ajai

    Regarding Brahmos, India neither got the seeker or the engine tech which represents 90% of the value of a missile. Brahmos is a very good product but the JV is only a lesson how things "should not" be done. The same take India for a ride has been done in the contract for Shakti engine also.

    Now the point is for FGFA:-

    1. What is the projected requirement by IAF. It was rumoured to be 100, which is too less for effective production line. Comparing with Su-30MKIs, the accurate requirement should be around 300 to 500 units

    2. Whether we have liberty to use our own radar, ew or avionics systems or we will be tied down to Russians.

    3. Whether we will own the IPRs so we have further develop and modify the aircraft without Russian concurrence.

    4. Whether we will have the right to indigenise the aircraft "completely". Su-30MKI we are bound to import most of the components including castings, forgings, nuts, bolts, fasteners, raw material

    5. Whether there is JV to develop associated weapon systems jointly.

    6. What is the cost and will be also be joint development of engine and radar

  45. Mr. Ajai Shukla, When will u post the article its already 4 days. If you want to gauge our interest there are many ways(like conducting a poll on particular article, at least I will respond to the poll) for god sake post the article.

    With due respecsts

  46. lol i think right about now - everyone is eagerly awaiting the article. Although Ajai you may not have the information we all seek- any information at this point would be great. No pressure good sir - In the end we are and always will be thankful for your hard work.


  47. My postings on Broadsword are, alas, linked with when the article is published in Business Standard. You will agree, I'm sure that I can't pre-empt publication?

    Hang in there. Targeting Monday, but I won't promise anything. At the end of the day, I don't own Business Standard... I'm just a contributor.

  48. Anonymous 00:02:

    "Hu owns most of the plane. Putin forgot to tell India."

    You've lost me on that... what exactly are you saying?

  49. I guess he means Hu Jintao of China...

  50. Other than LCH also highlight about the newly launched Vidhwansak (Indian multi-caliber anti-materiel rifle) manufactured by Ordnance Factory, Tiruchirapalli in your blog.

  51. Happy New Year, mate! Thanks for sharing so much in 2009.

  52. "I guess he means Hu Jintao of China..."

    Yup, I figured that... what I'm wondering is how does China own much of the plane?

    Still mystified.

  53. Hi Ajay Ji - You've got really good posts here that I was missing so far. Thanks, Tarun.

  54. hi,

    The question is, can India build such a plane indigenously on time, even if it spends double the money that we are investing in this?

    If not then i think this a best bet we can mass produce the aircraft,and also we can get revenue from its sales.

    it would be too much to think that Russians will give us complete tech just because we have partnered in terms of Monies

  55. "Yup, I figured that... what I'm wondering is how does China own much of the plane?"

    According to "rumours", India had asked assurance from Russia that pak-fa would not be sold to China. However, Russia supposedly denied to promise any such thing. Note that this is unsourced info; hence rumour.
    But if it is true, then it is mystifying to say the least. As we are 50% partner, how can pak-fa be exported to any nation in the future without our consent? Didn't our MOD insist on any such clause or did Russia simply refused?

  56. what happened to ur article.

  57. OfT post Mr Shukla, latest edition of Force says "Also under construction at HVF are 124 units of the Indian locally-designed Arjun MBT, which recently underwent comparative trials with the T-72 and T-90S. These desert trials, it is learned, were fairly successful which has pushed the army to raise the initial order to 250 enough for six regiments with a possible product improved order for another 250 as Mark II version.

    Can you confirm this?

  58. longest i have ever waited for an article

  59. Hi Ajai ji, Just read your article on Business Standard. Thanks for putting these frayed nerves to rest and HURRAH! to FGFA and Indo-Russian friendship and cooperation. Btw, are there any real pics around or we jingos will have to wait till the first flight? Khair, jab itna intezaar kiya hai to kuch aur din he sahi...


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