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India, Russia to sign fifth generation fighter deal

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Russia's proposed fifth generation fighter S-37 Berkut

NEW DELHI (BNS): India and Russia are finalizing the work share and investment proposals for India’s participation in the fifth generation fighter programme under development in Russia, based on a Sukhoi design.

“We would be co-developing the FGFA with Russian company Sukhoi,” HAL chairman Ashok K Baweja said after the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) for Military and Technical Cooperation meeting here. He said the fighter would have higher stealth features than any existing fighter. “It will also have embedded weapon systems with seamless communication between aircraft and its base,” he said.

He said the FGFA would have better multiple target detecting capabilities than Su-30 MKIs and have a 10-20 per cent stronger engine than latter. Baweja said the engine for the FGFA was yet to be finalised. "A request for proposal (RFP) would be issued soon," he said.

Meanwhile, Russian Ambassador to India Vyacheslav Trubnikov said on Monday that the two sides would be signing a deal on the FGFA joint venture by the end of this year.
“The Sukhoi Design Bureau's director general was here recently to discuss the details of the FGFA project,” Trubnikov said during Russian defence minister's visit to BrahMos Complex. (PTI)

Even as they fine tune the proposal, some significant differences have emerged between what the Indian Air Force perceives should be a futuristic fighter and the Russian version of it.

Indian Air Force wants a fifth generation fighter with twin seats, where as the one Russia has developed is a single seat fighter.

“It would mean we have almost two parallel programmes, stemming from a common base with a lot of commonalities,” says a senior official involved in discussions with the Russian side.

The two sides are now in the final stages of splitting up the work, he said. India would do a lot of the composite material, some software etc. Besides “we are also interested in taking part in developing the new engine,” he said.

Meanwhile, Alexey I Fedorov, the president of the United Aircraft Corporation, a consortium of all major Russian aviation companies, said the maiden prototype flight under the “domestic plans” for the fifth generation fighter would take place in 2009. “We plan to formalize by the end of the year” India’s role in the project, Fedorov said. “One of the responsibility of Indian side will be designing and developing the double-seater,” he said.

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