Centre to give its nod to Made-in-India fifth generation fighter jet


India’s ambitious project to have a fifth generation indigenous fighter aircraft will soon materialize as the process for obtaining a nod from the Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been initiated.

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

In its reply, the Ministry of Defence stated that the fifth generation fighter aircraft is costlier than its predecessors due to its special features. “Since AMCA is an indigenous 5th Generation aircraft, it is less costly than similar aircraft available outside,” the defence ministry said.

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

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

While it is still early for the AMCA, a CCS approval would mean the project will finally get rolling. The first prototype is expected by 2025, if all deadlines are met. If production can start by 2030, the Indian Air Force (IAF) can look at a 2035 deadline for the craft’s induction.

Light Combat Aircraft – Tejas and AMCA – are going to be critical for the IAF for filling in the gaps in its falling squadron’s strength. The Air Force functions with 32 squadrons against the sanctioned 42. Each squadron has 18 fighter jets.

However, in the next decade, the IAF is realistically looking at having 35 squadrons. As of now, seven squadrons of AMCA are planned but it is still far off.