Friday, October 30, 2015

Parrikar Visit to Russia to sweeten the FGFA deal

Parrikar Visit to Russia to sweeten the FGFA deal

   Indian Defense minister Manhoar Parrikar all set to visit Russia this November to advance the FGFA and MTA negotiations. Defense Ministry keen to fast track both FGFA and MTA program, and planning to sort out major problems before the Prime ministers visit to Russia. As many issues and backlogs listed in both FGFA and MTA deal. It's believed under the new defense procurement policy defense ministry may speed up the delayed fighter procurement.

     In 2015, The Indian Air force didn't received any new fighter jets except some Hawk and Pilatus trainers. The other side Indian Navy receives pretty good fighters and ASW planes from Russia and USA. The Air force's delayed projects like Rafale acquisition program and FGFA program hits road blocks due to many reasons. The defense ministry finding new ways to eliminate the delay by drafting a new Defense procurement Policy very soon.

   Indian Air force's flagship project is the FGFA, a modified variant of Russian PAK FA. Even the AMCA program also a long legged project, however IAF not concerned about AMCA, while they already knew the capability of ADA and HAL. The PAK FA program in Russia also has some problems like delays in testing and survivability of the air craft. The IAF also unhappy about the progress of PAK FA, since rival Chinese almost closes to induct the fifth gen stealth fighter jet J 20 by 2016.

    The major issue in the PAK FA program is the engine problem. The Russians yet to develop the Engines for the PAK FA, since fifth gen fighter should need an improved engine ehich can capable to perform super cruise in supersonic speed, also increased thrust and fuel efficiency. The PAK FA currently uses the modified variant of AL 31 F. The engine who powers the Su 35 Fighter jets.

   Earlier the PAK FA engine developer agreed that the new engine could be ready by 2017. The PAK FA would fly with the new engines by 2017. after completing the trails, serial production of the new engines started by 2020. As per Russian aerospace force the first batch of PAK FA comes with the modified AL 31 F. While the Block 2 version comes with new engines. So far there is no clear progress in the Engine development due to Ukrainian crisis who shorts the Supply lines.

117 S engine who powers the Su 35 and PAK FA

As per new plan The Indian Air force wants some sixty plus PAK FA fighter jets as a direct purchase from Russia. While the Air force didn't mentions about the engine characteristics of the direct purchase. The interim purchase will allow the Air force to stand against the Chinese fifth generation fighter's threat. However there is no theory that a fifth generation fighter would be encountered by a fifth gen only. The one who has superior RCS, Radar and missile can win the battle.

    The IAF's new plan is to buy nearly seven to eight squadron of FGFA. The FGFA comes with 40 major structural changes and it will be produced in HAL with the support of Russian engineers. For that India should give some $6 billions for research and development to Russia for transferring the cutting edge technologies like the Radar, engine and RAM coatings.

    Once India signs the $6 billion R&D contract. Russia would deliver three PAK FA for testing and study purposes to further develop the FGFA. The Russian engineers will teach the Indian counterparts to develop the most advanced fifth gen fighter in India. However the user IAF or IN should pay the production cost of the Fighter jets. each FGFA cost estimated some $120 million. Which makes  the total acquisition cost more $20 billion for eight squad of FGFA. Overall FGFA project value costs more than $25 billions.This has to be spend in next ten years.

    Until then India won't claim the PAK FA project would be the JV project of India and Russia. India may walk away from the deal any day, If IAF pilots didn't satisfied the performance of PAK FA. India insists the Russians let the IAF pilots to evaluate the PAK FA before buying the PAK FAand signing the FGFA contract.

    To clear those road blocks Indian Defense minister will visit Russia and discuss with the Russian counterparts. The visit pave the way to signing a agreement regarding the evaluation and R&D contract with Russia during the PM's visit by Russia December this year.

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