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Indian input to exceed one third of the total D&D of the IAF’s FGFA

The T-50 (FGFA). Many of FGFA/PMF technologies were tested first on Su-35 fighters

Atul Chandra

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will have a substantial role in the development of the 5th generation Perspective Multi-role Fighter (PMF) being developed for the Indian Air Force (IAF) over the next decade. N.C. Agarwal who retired as director, Design and Development, HAL, last month told FORCE that, “Indian designers would contribute over one-third of the total share of R&D (including all prototypes) for the project along with Russia, by the time aircraft is certified.” The India team will have access to all the design data and information and a number of agreements with the requisite confidentiality clauses have been signed in this regard”.

HAL will primarily be involved with redesign of the structure for the twin-seat variant and oversee the integration of a number of systems that have been specified by the IAF. In the preliminary design phase expected to be completed by in the last quarter of 2012, HAL will ascertain the impact of changes that need to be made to the aircraft for the twin seat variant desired by the IAF. The PMF currently sports a radar cross section of approximately 0.5 and it needs to be seen if the twin-seat variant will have reduced stealth characteristics due to the increased cross section as also changes to its aerodynamic and ‘g’ performance. According to Agarwal, “The changes would mean keeping a close eye on the Radar Cross Section (RCS), the engines will remain the same and should not affect stealth as the IR signature primarily comes from reheat”. The ability to super-cruise will also contribute to stealth as the IR signature will be substantially reduced without use of reheat.

It appears that the Indian side will make contributions with regards to the software, electronics and advanced mechanical systems on the PMF (FGFA/T-50).
Derivatives of a number of mechanical systems developed within the country by various organisations for a number of home-grown programmes could find their way to the PMF. In fact, it has been conveyed to the Indian team, that if Indian developed systems are superior to those developed by Russia, then they will be incorporated on the Russian variants as well. It is very likely that Indian developed systems could be part of the Russian T-50 (FGFA).

NPO Saturn will begin development of a brand new engine expected to generate around 18 tonne of thrust, though it is five to six years away from being installed on the FGFA/PMF. According to Agarwal, “The offer to partner in the development of a brand new and higher thrust engine is open, and the country should utilise this opportunity to enter this field even if the costs involved are extra”. ITAR-TASS has quoted Ilya Fyodorov, managing director of NPO Saturn as saying that the new engine will be on the FGFA by 2017. Apart from a few aircraft, the PMF entering IAF service is likely to be fitted with the new engine around 2020.

The glass cockpit will be developed by Russia and India though initially the eight inch x 10 inch and 12 inch x 10 inch Multi Functional Display’s (MFD) will come from Russia. These displays are also being developed in India and could be incorporated on Russian aircraft if they demonstrate better performance. The PMF cockpit is likely to be very similar to that already seen on the Su-35 with a number of Indian systems and the addition of a large wide
angle HUD as seen on the FGFA prototypes flying currently. In fact the 10 inch x 12 inch display is already being offered for the Su-30 MKI upgrade to the IAF and many upgrade items on the Su-30 MKI will make its way to the PMF. A high quality Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) will also be incorporated.
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