Is India About to Give Up on Building Stealth Fighters with Russia?
The FGFA program dates back to 2007, when India and Russia signed an agreement to explore jointly developing a fifth-generation aircraft. Three years later, the two countries reached an agreement to spend $295 million for a preliminary design of the jet. The project stalled after that phase, however, until reports last spring suggested that the two sides could reach an agreement to each invest $4 billion to complete the final phase of the plane’s development. The increasingly vocal opposition from India’s Air Force is likely an attempt to prevent that deal from ever coming to fruition.
If the two sides decide to move forward, the plan is for the FGFA to be based on the Sukhoi Su-57, Moscow’s first fifth-generation aircraft. As Franz-Stefan Gady has explained, “The Sukhoi Su-57 is a fifth-generation multirole, single seat, twin-engine air superiority/deep air support fighter intended to replace the Russian Air Force’s fleet of MiG-29 and Su-27. The Su-57 will be armed with beyond visual range air-to-air missiles as well as of air-to-ground missiles including the extended range Kh-35UE tactical cruise missile.”
Russian media have explained that the FGFA itself will be modified to meet India’s technical needs. This likely will include enabling it to carry Indian-origin weaponry. In addition, Tass has reportedd the modifications will include “the design and development of a two-seater version of the aircraft, the integration of an advanced engine with increased thrust are planned at the request of India.” Russian media have also said that after India purchases the jet, it could be exported to other countries.
Zachary Keck (@ZacharyKeck) is a former managing editor of the National Interest.
Image: The S-400 missile system.