Project Alert: Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA)

An Update by Ritika Behal and Kavita Nagpal

Defence Program: Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA)

Program Conception Year: 2009

Design Group / Developed By: Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Aircraft Research and Design Centre (HAL) and Defence Research and Development Organization

To Be Manufactured By: HAL, and an Indian private company

Role: Stealth multirole fighter

Primary Users: Indian Air Force and Indian Navy

Quantity: 7 squadrons (126 Nos.) to be inducted by IAF

Development Cost: Rs. 15000 Crores ($2 billion)

Category: Make in India

Current Status: In-development; CCS approval awaited

Project Brief

Conceived in 2009 and being spearheaded by DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), formerly known as the Medium Combat Aircraft (MCA) is basically an extension of the LCA project.

The program is undertaken to develop fifth generation fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Navy (IN) which will also include sixth generation niche technologies.

The design of the aircraft is carried out by ADA, the aircraft design and development agency under Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

Notably, a feasibility study for the program was launched in October 2010 by the ADA, the aircraft design and development agency under Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

This was subsequently followed by Project Definition and Preliminary Design phase in 2013.

From November 2013 to December 2014, 9 design configurations of AMCA, starting from 3B-01 to 3B-09, were studied using CAD, low-speed – high-speed wind tunnel testing, and radar cross section (RCS) testing.

By the end of 2014, configuration 3B-09 was chosen.

In 2015, the basic design configuration of AMCA was finalized, and was accepted by IAF in 2016

Later the project entered the detailed design phase in February 2019.

By February 2023, the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) completed the design stage (critical design review) of the AMCA.

Further, extensive inter-ministerial consultations on cost, design and level of indigenous content have also been completed.

Subsequently, in April 2023, DRDO approached the PM-led Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for the final approval of the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

However, it has been almost six months but the program is still awaiting CCS clearance.

Once the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) sanctions the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft project, five prototypes of the aircraft are planned to be produced.

Notably, the production /manufacturing of the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft will be undertaken by a public-private joint venture between the DRDO, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), and an Indian private company (yet to be selected).

“To accelerate the development and production of the AMCA, the ADA is looking for interaction with prospective firms who are willing to participate as technology-cum-investment partners towards development and manufacturing of the AMCA,” the ADA stated in its notification issued earlier in 2023

Further, it also specified that it was looking for Indian companies only.

Once developed, the IAF is expected to induct at least 7 squadrons (126 Nos.) of AMCA in future.

Reportedly, the reason for delay in CCS approval has been owing to the delay in the shortlisting process of a foreign OEM for the engine co-development of the AMCA.

Basically, AMCA is proposed to be developed in two phases.

The Phase 1 development will result in AMCA Mk-1, powered by the US GE-414 engine.

It is to be noted that the GE-F414 engines will power the first the first two squadrons, for which all the clearances have been received from the United States (US) in November 2023.

On the other hand, Phase 2 development will result in AMCA Mk-2, which will feature an advanced, more powerful engine to be developed in collaboration with foreign a foreign partner, which is yet to be selected.

Also, worth mentioning that a large number of DRDO and CSIR labs, IITs, IISc and private industries are already involved in the AMCA project.

Rather, earlier this year Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) signed an MoU with Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) for the fifth generation AMCA programme.

The MoU aims at leveraging the complementary strengths and capabilities of BEL and ADA, wherein both parties will cooperate for the development, production and supply of Internal Weapon Bay Computer and other line replaceable units (LRU) for the fighter aircraft.

Besides, BEL will also provide lifetime product support to the Indian Air Force (IAF) once the induction of the AMCA happens.

Development Cost of Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft

In 2009, the Union government had allocated Rs 90 crore, followed by an additional Rs 447 crore, for a feasibility study for designing of the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

Further, the total development cost of this 25-ton aircraft is estimated to be around Rs 15,000 Crores.

Time Window

Even after the CCS nod, it will take at least four years to manufacture the first aircraft under the programme.

Besides, it will require an additional year before it completes its first flight.

Therefore, if CCS clearance is granted even by mif-2024, the rollout of the prototype is expected only in mid-2027, with the first flight taking place in late 2028.

In effect, the IAF will begin inducting the AMCA from only around 2035 onwards.

ADA has a 10-year roadmap for making the first five prototypes and flight testing.

Brief Specifications

The AMCA will be a single-seat, twin-engine aircraft. stealth supersonic multi-role fighter.’

Two variants of AMCA will be produced in a phased production model.

While, the AMCA Mark 1 will come equipped with fifth generation technologies and Mark 2 will have the incremental sixth generation technology upgrades.

The AMCA which is intended to perform a multitude of missions including air superiority, ground-strike, Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) and Electronic Warfare (EW) missions would be a potent replacement for the Sukhoi Su-30MKI air superiority fighter, which forms the backbone of the IAF fighter fleet.

The AMCA design is optimized for low radar cross section and super cruise capability.


  • Shaping for Low-Observability
  • Internal Weapons
  • Signature Control
  • Materials/Paints
  • Future Missiles
  • Stand-Off Weapons
  • Precision Weapons
  • Vehicle Management
  • Integrated Modular Avionics
  • Situational Awareness
  • Data Fusion· Decision Aids
  • Advanced Sensors
  • Net Centric warfare
  • Appropriate EW


Air to Air:

  • Close Combat Missile
  • Beyond Visual Range Missile

Air to Ground:

  • Joint Direct Attack Munitions
  • Precision Guided Munitions


  • AESA Radar
  • Infra Red Search & Track

Multi Mission Capabilities:

  1. Air – Air

Long Range Combat-

  • Low Radar Signature
  • Extended Detection
  • Range & Targeting
  • Supersonic Persistence
  • High Speed Weapon
  • Release

Short Range Combat

  • Low Infra-Red Signature
  • Fast Change of State (Thrust Vectoring)
  • High Angle of Attack Controllability
  • All Round Missile Warning System
  1. Air – Ground

Short Range Combat

  • Suppression of enemy Air Defense
  • Precision Strike
  • Special Missions
  • Non-Stealth Mission
  • Mariti Swing Role

Specifications Source:

General characteristics (Likely):

Crew: 1

Length: 17.6 m (57 ft 9 in)

Wingspan: 11.13 m (36 ft 6 in)

Height: 4.5 m (14 ft 9 in)

Wing area: 55 m2 (590 sq ft)

Empty weight: 12,000 kg (26,455 lb) (estimated)

Gross weight: 18,000 kg (39,683 lb)

Max takeoff weight: 25,000 kg (55,116 lb) (estimated)

Fuel capacity: 6,500 kg (14,300 lb)

Payload: 6,500 kg (14,300 lb) ― 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) internal and 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) external stores

Powerplant: 2 × Modified GE F414 (initial production) afterburning turbofan

Performance (Likely):

Maximum speed: 2,600 km/h (1,600 mph, 1,400 kn)

Maximum speed: Mach 2.15

Range: 3,240 km (2,010 mi, 1,750 nmi)

Combat range: 1,620 km (1,010 mi, 870 nmi)

Ferry range: 5,324 km (3,308 mi, 2,875 nmi)

Service ceiling: 20,000 m (65,000 ft)

Current Status of the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft Program

As of now, the aircraft is under development and is awaiting CCS approval. Once it received final approval, the 5 protypes will be developed by the DRDO, HAL in collaboration with a Indian private company.