Proposal for 5th-gen indigenous fighter AMCA approved, nearly 2-decade-old journey formally begins

The proposal to design and manufacture India’s fifth generation indigenous fighter aircraft — Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) — has been approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) last week.

The about Rs 15,000 crore approval is for the design and prototype development of the aircraft that will eventually be powered by Make in India jet engines having a capacity of 110 kN, sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint.

According to the plan, the sources said, five prototypes will be built by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) along with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and private companies.

Currently, there are only four operational fifth generation fighters in the world, with the Americans having two — F-22 Raptor and F-35A Lightning II.

The Chinese have the J-20 and the Russians boasting the Su-57, even though their stealth technology — a primary requirement to be termed fifth generation — is not fully recognised by the world at large.

China also has the J-31 fighters whose fifth-generation credentials are questionable as well.

In 2007, even though AMCA was still being pursued as a concept note, India had tied up with the Russians for the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) programme to develop a stealth fighter — Su-57.

However, the Indian Air Force’s interest waned after scepticism over the stealth capabilities and the work share model between the two countries, apart from a lack of trust on the engine of the aircraft. India finally decided to pull out from the FGFA programme in 2018.

According to the plan, the first AMCA prototype powered by the GE-414 engine is earmarked for rollout by 2026

The IAF chief had told ThePrint in 2021 that the force plans to start inducting the AMCA by early years of next decade.

The IAF is looking at seven squadrons of the AMCA, which includes two squadrons of the AMCA Mk1-A which will be powered by the GE-414 engines that has a thrust of 98kN.

The remaining fighters will be powered by new indigenous engines for which the contenders are Safran of France, GE of the US and Rolls Royce of the UK.

Noteworthy, the AMCA will boast of the latest avionics, indigenous AESA radar, besides having the capability to carry weapons internally as well as externally.

(Edited by Tony Rai)