FGFA program hits a Road block
During the Initial days of Fifth generation fighter program development, the government and IAF agrees to induct some 300 new fifth gen fighters from abroad. under this Plan, IAF gets some 150 single seat PAK FA from Russia, and another 150 improved PAK FA under the code name of FGFA, FGFA is a Indian designation of multiple improved characteristics in the imported Russian PAK FA, and Built in Indian state owned company HAL. but days passed the Government slowly sabotaged the IAF's plan, initially those Fifth gen fighters meant to deployed in new bases near China, and helps the HAL to develop the medium Fighter code named AMCA.
For Future IAF plans to use some 300 Fifth Generation fighters ( PAK FA and FGFA) another 150 Medium combat aircraft, and Keeps some 300 advanced Sukhoi Su 30 MKI's and some 100 of Rafales for Deep strike and Combat patrolling and quick redeployment, thus makes the IAF suggested 40+ Squadrons of good fighters to pose a concrete middle finger towards Chinese Air force,
But the major strategic project hits many delays, from Numbers, design changes and delivery periods
As per initial plan IAF and HAL jointly discussed and evaluated some 80+ changes in the existing PAK FA platform, and they will start working with the prototypes provided by the Russian, the HAL receives three T 50 prototypes in 2017, 2019, and 2021. the IAF team evaluates and suggest the changes, the major structural changes is the Twin seat configuration, Computer integrations and IFF systems along with missile integrations, also its believed that minor improvements also added to increase the stealth characteristics.
But due to the late arrival of the Jets and lacks of Technological expertise from HAL, The ministry cut down almost 40 design changes in the FGFA, means most of the suggested changes will not happen, and the phenomenal difference between FGFA and PAK FA is just 40 improvements, the time lines also planned to decrease by three years, previously planned it took some eight years to deliver a single FGFA to India once all improvements are completed.
both countries agreed to manufacture the first batch of aircraft in Russia and for subsequent batches to be manufactured by HAL under transfer of technology.
The Initial plans stated some 150 PAK FA and another 150 FGFA, means India starts receiving the T 50 from Russian Serial production plant by 2018, meantime Russia gives three prototype variants to the HAL to inspect and evaluate the plan to improve the T 50 into FGFA,
Later Reports verified, that India go for some 144 FGFA and another 50 numbers of PAK FA from Russia, and it's scheduled that Russia could provide a squadron of PAK FA before 2020, the Government cut more than 100's of PAK FA orders,
But recent reports mentions IAF might buy only 65 fifth generation Aircraft, But it's not clear While India just increased the PAK FA order numbers to current 50 to 65, or IAF cuts down the FGFA numbers from 144 to just 65, the reports merely confusing without stating the Status of the T 50 program,
Another reports mentions, India may opt out from the FGFA and all other fifth generation program with Russia, and directly purchase just 65 PAK FA under government to government contract, just like how Make in India Rafale cancelled and only the 36 Rafales will be bought,
So it looks like either the Government cut down the numbers or increased the PAK FA orders,
At first, The HAL is to get three Russian prototypes for re-design and testing in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and is scheduled to hand over the first series produced aircraft to the IAF in 2019, Which is the FGFA, But the same can be moved to two years cap and delivery, the timeline Changes into 2017, 2019, 2021, and IAF starts receive the FGFA by 2025, almost six years of delay,
Because of the delay the New government planned to buy a squadron of PAK FA as stop cap measure, and It's believed that India may receive the first squadron of T 50 before 2020, to face the Chinese fifth generation threats,
Because of cutting down the design changes, The government informs in the Parliament that, Once the Research and development contract signed, the Russia and HAL delivers the FGFA within three years, and Government almost near to complete the draft of the Contract, but no sign of Signing the contract by this year.
So if Government moves towards the FGFA by the new timeline It's good to we have some Fifth generation fighters before the 2020, to show off with the Chinese.