Made-In-India: Fifth-generation fighter jets to get Centre’s nod soon

New Delhi: India’s ambitious project to have a fifth-generation indigenous fighter aircraft has got the nod from the Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The process of obtaining the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Safety (CCS) for the design and prototype development of the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) has been initiated,” the Defense Ministry said in a written reply to a question in Parliament.

The Defense Ministry in its reply said that the fifth-generation fighter aircraft is costlier than its predecessors due to its special features. “Since the AMCA is a 5th generation indigenous aircraft, it is less expensive than similar aircraft available outside,” the defense ministry said.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Defense Ajay Bhatt in a written reply to a question to Shanta Chhetri in Rajya Sabha today.

The AMCA is envisaged to be a modern fighter aircraft with improved stealth features. While Rafale coming to India is a 4.5 generation fighter, China has a fifth-generation aircraft with the Chengdu J20. Pakistan has already taken J10 from China and wants to get J20 as well.

It is still early for the AMCA but the approval of the CCS will mean that the project will eventually become operational. The first prototypes are expected by 2025 if all deadlines are met. If production can start by 2030, the Indian Air Force (IAF) may see a deadline of 2035 for inducting the craft.

Light combat aircraft – Tejas and AMCA – are going to be crucial for the IAF to fill the gap in the strength of its fallen squadrons. The Air Force operates with 32 squadrons against the sanctioned 42. Each squadron consists of 18 fighter jets.

However, in the next decade, the IAF is actually looking at having 35 squadrons. As of now, seven squadrons of the AMCA are planned, but this is still a long way off.

(With agency input)