Source : Indian Defence Analysis
|AMCA scale model displayed in Defence Expo earlier (File Photo)|
In an interview with The Week, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari has given some important updates regarding the India’s 5th generation fighter jet program AMCA. As per CAS, the draft Preliminary Services Qualitative Requirements have been forwarded and the IAF has reviewed the detailed design prepared by DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) after undertaking comprehensive design studies on the project. Typically, in an PSQR, the air force would specify the essential and desirable parameters. Considering the fact that IAF has already reviewed the detailed design, the MoD should release the fund for AMCA program to commence its prototype development.
During the Defense Expo 2022, the AMCA’s Project Director AK Ghosh had said that the first prototype of the AMCA is expected to roll out in three years, and the first flight could take another year and a half.
The expected roll-out time for AMCA would be 2025-26 and first flight by 2027.
CAS has also said that the IAF will be fully involved in design iteration, flight testing and programme management of the project. Induction of AMCA is likely to commence in the middle of the next decade.
AMCA Funding & Prototype
ADA will develop 5 prototypes of AMCA for flight testing which will cost close to Rs 900 crore each, however this cost will reduce further when the fighter jet enters into the full fledge production. Since AMCA is an indigenous fighter, it would be still 50-60% cheaper than the imported fighters in its category. At present the developmental cost of AMCA is estimated to be around Rs 15,000 crore which is awaiting approval from Cabinet Committee on Security.
However, HAL which is the development partner for AMCA has commenced the sourcing and manufacturing of certain parts such as ‘Metal Cutting for Titanium Bulkhead of AMCA aircraft’ as part of technology development which commenced on July 13th, 2022. The full-fledged development of prototype will commence only after the approval of fund.
SPV Model for development
In order to fastrack the development, AMCA and IMRH has been placed under SPV or Special Purpose Vehicle Model involving private players with majority of stake. The idea behind giving majority stake to private players is to speed up the procurement process. This will avoid the bureaucratic red tape which we have in our PSUs procurement process and reduce cost of development as well. The SPV would be involved in the prototype development, series production and providing lifetime/cycle support to the Indian Air Force.
Variants: Mark-I & Mark-II
Indian Air force has planned to acquire 7 Squadrons of AMCA which will include 2 squadrons of AMCA Mark 1 & 5 squadrons of AMCA Mark 2.
The Mark 1 variant of AMCA will be powered by two GE F414-INS6 turbofan engines capable of generating maximum thrust of 97.9KN with afterburner, however it will not be sufficient to provide the fighter super cruise ability i.e. cruise at supersonic speed without the use of after burner. Apart from Engine the Mark-I will also feature an imported ejection seat. However, the other components which includes sensors, avionics and flight control systems are going to be indigenous which is going to increase the percentage of indigenous components in the fighter to 70%. The introduction of Indigenous engine in AMCA will increase its indigenous content to 90% in Mark-2.
AMCA MK2 Will feature Indigenous engine to be developed jointly by DRDO & Safran which is expected to be ready in next 7-8 years. It is expected to have some 6th generation technology such as direct energy weapons and ability to launch unmanned aerial systems. Due to much powerful engine the fighter jet will be able to cruise at supersonic speed without the use of after burner.