February 23, 2018

IAF An-32 Avionics Upgrade Detailed

As part of the $402-million deal to upgrade 105 Aviant/Antonov An-32 of the Indian Air Force will involve a comprehensive engine and integrated avionics updation that will push the workhorse fleet for at least another two decades.
The upgrade will be undertaken by Antonov/Aviant and IAI jointly. The qualitative requirements as formally listed by the IAF for the upgrade are “extending service life, enhancing operational capabilities, easing workloads on crew and reducing maintenance costs“.
LiveFist has learnt that the avionics of the An-32 will be replaced with an IAI-LAHAV-ELTA developed package, including a full glass cockpit with standard multi-function displays (MFDs) and a control display unit (CDU).
The LAHAV-ELTA avionics package that will go into each IAF An-32 includes a digital moving map, full NVG capability, in-flight mission rehearsal options, head-up display for both pilots (the IAF is still to communicate the the consortium if it wants HUDs for both pilots, one pilot, or none at all) and a significantly new advanced electronic warfare system (EWS), which will feature radar warning receiver, the fourth generation EL/M-2160 missile approach warning system, laser warning receiver and conventional countermeasures. Flight safety features being incorporated into the upgrade will include an advanced Terrain Avoidance Warning System (TAWS) and an Enhanced Traffic Collision Avoidance System (ETCAS), with options for a specialised weather radar.


February 22, 2018

India to again scout for global players for jets

Its fleet of fighter jets dwindling, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is set to float a fresh global tender inviting military aviation companies to make fighter jets in India.The move comes as the Air Force is now down to 31 squadrons against the need of 42, as mandated by the Cabinet Committee on Security. Each squadron has 16-18 planes. The request for information (RFI), the first step in the tendering process, is being finalised and will be sent out to global players, sources said.
Companies that participated in the now scrapped Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) project will be invited.
The MMRCA project for 126 jets did not fructify and the government, in April 2015, announced the move to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from French major Dassault. 
The MoD and the IAF will keep its options open and not restrict itself to say a “single engine” fighter jet, sources have told The Tribune. The option will be to get a “fighter jet” and it will not specify the number of engines as that then restricts the options.These will be under ‘make in India’ and to get global manufactures to have a production line in India, the project needs adequate numbers with possibility of future expansions.
To speed up matters, the MoD will be looking at new additions made by global players since the MMRCA trials were carried out in 2011. The planes tested then were Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN, US Boeing’s F/A-18IN, Eurofighter Typhoon, French Dassault’s Rafale, Swedish Saab’s Gripen and Russian MiG-35.In past two years, the IAF and the MoD were in talks for a “single engine” fighter jet with two global manufactures.
 However, this has been superseded by the thought process to just focus on  getting additional jets without getting into “single engine” or “twin engine” variants.
The existing production of 123 Tejas fighter jets being made by public sector giant Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is just taking off and it will take more than a decade for the entire lot to be manufactured. The IAF has the mandate to have 272 Sukhoi 30 MKI in its fleet. The MiG 21s are on their last legs and have to be phased out.


UK firm completes submarine rescue system for Indian Navy

(PTI) A Scotland-based company has announced the completion of a new submarine rescue system due to be delivered to the Indian Navy next month.
JFD has a contract worth 193 million pounds with the Indian Navy for the supply of two complete "flyaway submarine rescue systems," including Deep Search and Rescue Vehicles (DSRV), Launch and Recovery Systems (LARS) equipment, Transfer Under Pressure (TUP) systems, and all logistics and support equipment required to operate the service.
The first set of equipment has been designed, manufactured, integrated and ready for testing by JFD prior to shipping next month for final commissioning and trials. The remaining set of certified systems are due to be delivered to the Indian Navy in June.
"India is an important strategic partner and we encourage further cooperation between the Indian armed forces and innovative UK companies," said Simon Everest, the Head of the UK governments Department for International Trades Defence and Security Organisation ahead of a completion ceremony at JFDs Renfrew Manufacturing Facility in Scotland on Friday.
The ceremony will mark a world-first in the final integration of a complete submarine rescue system within a single manufacturing facility, enabling engineers to test in-situ how each component part will integrate in order to deliver the optimum submarine rescue capability, the company said.
JFDs so-called third-generation rescue system incorporates an innovative new system design and tightly integrated components to ensure time-to-first-rescue (TTFR) �?? the time measured between system deployment and commencement of the rescue �?? is minimised.
In the event of an accident, this maximises the chances of a successful rescue, which is crucial in protecting the lives of submariners.
According to Giovanni Corbetta, Managing Director, JFD, speed and reliability is key in conducting safe and effective submarine rescue operations to ensure that the submariners are reached as quickly as possible to minimise the risk the situation poses to their lives.
The reliability with which any "flyaway" submarine rescue system can be deployed must be carefully balanced with its effectiveness and capability once onsite. It is essential that the system has the capability to conduct safe rescue operations in any given circumstance and under widely variable conditions, including sea states and depths.
The third generation system represents a step-change in real world submarine rescue capability, and has been specifically designed to provide a comprehensive and highly capable submarine rescue service while ensuring the system is as quick and simple to mobilise as possible to maximise the chances of a successful rescue, he added.
The JFD team has already begun conducting in-depth training with local teams of engineers in India to operate and maintain the systems.
JFD provides sub-sea rescue services, solutions products, engineering services and training to 80 countries and 33 of the worlds navies including the UKs Royal Navy


February 21, 2018

China upgrades air defence along Indian border: Report

  • According to report, China is upgrading air defence along the LAC to "confront any threat from India".
  • China has also recently commissioned its stealth fighter, the J-20, which is the first in the region.
  • India and China have been trying to reset their ties after last year's 73-day standoff in Doklam.
China is upgrading air defence of its Western Theatre Command, which looks after the security along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), to "confront any threat from India", an official media report quoted a military expert as saying.

The Chinese military has released photographs of a J-10 fighter jet - a lightweight multi-role fighter aircraft - along with J-11 - a single-seat, twin-engine fighter jet - flying over the high-altitude plateau in western China during the current Chinese New Year and Spring Festival holiday, state-run Global Times reported on Tuesday.

The jets are attached to an aviation brigade of the air force under the PLA Western Theatre Command, the website of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) said.

China has also recently commissioned its stealth fighter, the J-20, which is first in the region.

The Western Theatre Command is mainly responsible for mountain warfare at the border area with India. The LAC stretches to 3,488-km including the high altitude Tibetan plateau.

India and China have been trying to reset their ties after last year's 73-day standoff between the two sides at Doklam+ in Sikkim section of boundary.

It is significant for China to strengthen control of airspace over the mountainous region, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times.

"Strengthening the 3.5-generation fighter jets or even stationing more advanced fighters in the Western Theatre Command has been urgent for the PLA," Song said, adding that such upgrades have been usually first conducted in south and east theatre commands.

Considering that India possesses 3rd-generation fighter jets, China's stationing of its 3.5-generation jets would be able to deal with any current threat from India, Song said.

Apparently referring to India's acquisition of Rafale fighter jets from France, Song said, "with India importing new jets, China will continue strengthening its fighter jets in the Western Theatre Command."

Since he took over power in 2013, President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China and chairman of the Central Military Commission, has been pressing the PLA to step up live firing drills to win local wars.


All stakeholders want to fast-track submarine plans: Rahul Kumar Shrawat, Naval Group in India, CMD

In an interview with ET, Rear Admiral Rahul Kumar Shrawat (retd), who recently took over as the chairman and managing director of Naval Group in India tells Shaurya Gurung about the firm’s plans to meet the Indian Navy’s requirements such as Project-75 India submarine programme, second indigenous aircraft carrier, IAC-2 and indigenisation of its F21 torpedo.


What are your plans for Naval Group in India?
Naval Group is fully committed to support Indian Navy’s acquisition of weapon platforms and weapons. To be specific, we are looking at Project 75-India programne, Landing Platform Docks and the third aircraft carrier IAC-2. For weapons, we are involved with the Indian Navy on the F21 torpedo. All the details have been shared and the Navy has been invited to witness certain trials of the torpedo. This torpedo has been cleared for induction in the Barracuda SSN (nuclear-powered submarine) of the French Navy and is being offered to Indian Navy.

Can you elaborate on Naval Group’s offer for IAC-2?
This programme is at the initial design stage, wherein the propulsion system is being decided. My knowledge says that the Navy is perhaps looking at full electric propulsion system. Its design can be provided by Naval Group.

What is the status of Project 75-India project?
We have responded to the Request for Information (RFI). These submarines are to be built as per the Strategic Partnership model. There is a wish of all stakeholders that the programme should move at a fast pace. Authorities have to select foreign partners and the Indian shipyards and have to marry the two. I only feel it will take time.

Will MDL and Naval Group collaboration continue for Project 75-I?
For Naval Group, MDL is a very valuable partner. The level of absorption of technology by MDL has proved to be successful. On the third Scorpene submarine (Karanj) the construction was done by MDL on their own with little support from Naval Group. This means they are becoming more selfreliant. It also demonstrates the success of Transfer-of-Technology. Naval Group will look at MDL as a capable shipyard with whom we will like to partner in future programmes. So Project-75-India is one. The ecosystem of building submarines in India has got into top gear through the Scorpene programme. Nurturing this ecosystem is the need of the hour. It is very difficult to build this capability.

What is the status of torpedoes for Scorpene submarines?
We responded to RFI. Simultaneously, Naval Group is also identifying suitable Indian partners, who could contribute towards the indigenisation of F21 torpedo in India. We are looking at MSMEs.


Defence council clears order of combat vehicles worth Rs 1,850 cr

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today approved capital acquisiti on proposals worth Rs 1,850 crore, which primarily includes procuring Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICV) for the army, the defence ministry said.

The capital acquisitions includes the procurement of an “essential quantity” of the ICVs, which will be BMP-2/2k, for the mechanised infantry and other arms and services. It will come at an estimated cost of over Rs 1,125 crore from the Ordnance Factory Board.

“The procurement will meet the operational requirements of troops in rapid deployment of the mechanised forces,” said the ministry.

In view of the Indian Navy’s hydrographic operations in the Indian Ocean Region, the DAC also approved the procurement of one survey training vessel for meeting the navy’s growing hydrographic needs at ports, harbours and the exclusive economic zone. “The construction of the vessel under Buy Indian-IDDM by Indian shipyards at an estimated cost of Rs 626 crore,” said the ministry.


February 20, 2018

Everything you need to know about Russia’s Su-35 multirole fighter jet

Ten years ago, a prototype of Russia’s Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighter jet performed its debut flight on February 19, 2008.

The Su-35 is Russia’s generation 4++ multirole supersonic super-maneuverable fighter jet developed as a follow-up of Su-27 one-seat planes.

Aircraft’s designing and tests ::

The work on the Su-27’s modification capable of detecting and striking ground targets (i.e. the work on the full-fledged multirole fighter jet) began at the Sukhoi Design Bureau back in the mid-1980s. The plane was named the Su-27M (the T-10M). It was furnished with new radio-electronic equipment (including a rear facing radar), armament, electronic warfare (EW) systems, multifunctional displays in the pilot’s cockpit, an aerial refueling system and other devices.

The first flight of the Su-27M (which was shortly renamed as the Su-35) took place on April 1, 1992. The Su-35 was on display at various international airshows and was offered for export but it did not find prospective buyers. The serial production of new fighter jets did not begin due to economic problems.

Some new technical solutions used in the Su-27M were later incorporated in Su-30 fighter jets of various types and the Su-37 aircraft.

The work on the one-seat multirole fighter jet as a derivative of the Su-27 plane restarted in the mid-2000s. The designers installed new avionics, the Irbis radar with a passive phased antenna array and more powerful engines with thrust vectoring on the aircraft. The fighter jet was also furnished with a new onboard information and control system.

The T-10BM performed its debut flight on February 19, 2008. The fighter jet has been serial-produced at the Gagarin Aviation Plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. In 2009, a contract was signed for the delivery of 48 fighter jets of this type to Russia’s Aerospace Force. The contract was fully discharged in 2015, after which Russia’s military placed an order for 50 more planes.

The fighter jet was accepted for service in Russia’s Aerospace Force in 2017. By today, about 70 such planes have been delivered to operational Aerospace Force units. From 2015, these fighter jets made part of Russia’s air task force in Syria.

Fighter jet’s characteristics ::

By its aerodynamic design, the Su-35 is a two-engine high-wing aircraft featuring retractable tricycle gear with the nose gear strut. The Su-35 is equipped with two AL-41F1S turbojet engines with an afterburner thrust of 14,500 kgf each. The plane has a length of 21.95 meters, a wingspan of 14.75 meter and a height of 5.92 meters.

The fighter jet has a maximum takeoff weight of 34,500 kg, a maximum speed of 2,500 km/h (2.35 Mach), a maximum flying range of 3,600 km without external fuel tanks and 4,500 km with external fuel tanks. The fighter jet has a service ceiling of 18,000 meters. The fighter’s radar can detect targets at a distance of up to 400 km and track 30 air targets at a time. The crew consists of one pilot.

The fighter jet’s service life assigned by its manufacturer is 6,000 hours or 30 years and the term of its engine operation is 4,000 hours.

Armament ::

The fighter jet’s 12 hardpoints can carry air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, and also rockets and air bombs of various calibers. The aircraft has a maximum weapons payload of 8 tonnes. It is armed with a GSh-30-1 30mm gun (with an ammunition load of 150 rounds).

Export deliveries ::

On November 19, 2015, Russia’s state hi-tech corporation Rostec announced that it had signed a contract for the delivery of 24 Su-35 fighters to China. According to media reports, 14 aircraft had been delivered by early 2018.

Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov told the media on February 20, 2017 that the United Arab Emirates had signed a letter of intent with Russia on the purchase of Su-35 planes.

Indonesian media outlets reported in February 2018 that Russia had signed a contract for the delivery of 11 Su-35 fighters to Indonesia.

Air incidents ::

According to open sources, one incident occurred with this type of aircraft without any victims. On April 26, 2009, a prototype of the Su-35 plane skidded off the runway during its speedy run and received considerable damage. The test pilot ejected to safety.


February 19, 2018

Order for T-14 MBTs, T-15 heavy IFVs for extended trials confirmed by Russian MoD

Key Points

  • An order for two battalions of T-14 MBTs and a battalion of T-15 heavy IFVs has been confirmed by Russian Deputy Defence Minister Yuri Borisov
  • A decision on series production of Armata-based platforms is due to be made after 2020 once trials of the vehicles are complete
An order placed by the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) for two battalions of T-14 main battle tanks (MBTs) and a battalion of T-15 heavy infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) has been confirmed by the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD).
“It’s no secret that we already have a contract for trials and combat operations: two battalions of Armata tanks and one battalion of heavy infantry fighting vehicles,” Deputy Defence Minister Yuri Borisov was quoted as saying by the MoD during a tour of the Uralvagonzavod factory in Nizhny Tagil on 9 February.
Reporting on the current status of the Armata programme, which is part of Russia’s State Armaments Programme (SAP) 2012–2020, Borisov said state trials would begin this year and continue until the end of 2019.
By 2020 development and trials of the AFVs will be complete, according to Borisov, after which a decision on substantial series-production contracts will be made. This appears to be good news for the Armata programme, which was previously reported to be in jeopardy after Russian defence funds were diverted into the modernisation of older armoured vehicles.
During his tour of Uralvagonzavod Borisov also commented that work on a new type of ammunition for the T-14 is close to completion. No details were given, but it is possible that this was a reference to the ‘Vacuum’ round, which is a sub-calibre armour-piercing projectile.


HAL engages with local firms over Dhruv production

India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has approached domestic private-sector companies to build under licence the civilian version of its Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH).
HAL said on 16 February that it has invited expressions of interest (EOI) from local firms with a view to identifying a partner to which HAL will transfer technologies and knowhow to support the licenced-manufacturing proposal.
HAL added that that offer, which it claimed is unprecedented in India, is intended to support New Delhi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. Acting as design authority and original equipment manufacturer, HAL said the offer is positioned to support anticipated expanding requirements for utility helicopters across several sectors in Indian and export markets.
According to the EOI, the selected partner would have capability to licence-produce the Dhruv in “shorter time spans” as well as provide maintenance, repair and overhaul services for the helicopters over their 20-year life span. HAL said it would provide the selected local firm with technologies, skills, technical assistance, and licencing rights.
HAL said its selected partner must have at least five years’ experience in the aerospace/engineering sector, including in manufacturing and assembly, and have a net worth of INR20 billion (USD310 million) and a minimum annual turnover of INR25 billion.


February 17, 2018

NPOL’s torpedo defence system to equip Navy

Defence council clears purchase worth Rs.850 crore

An advanced system developed by a consortium of Indian Defence laboratories led by the Thrikkakara-based Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL) to defend naval ships against torpedo attack will now be integrated on as many as 30 ships operated by the Indian Navy.
While 11 ships will be equipped with the full system, named Maareech Advanced Torpedo Decoy System, the remaining will get just the torpedo countermeasure capability that’s part of it.

Acquisition cleared

The Defence Acquisition Council, led by Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharaman, on Tuesday cleared acquisition of the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and non-ASW variants of the system which will be manufactured by Bharat Electronics. Initially, systems worth ₹850 crore will be acquired to arm warships.
Two systems are already functional on INS Ganga and Gomati which were used for user evaluation trials of the indigenously-developed systems.
“The survival capability of a ship is greater if the attacking torpedo can be detected early and also at a range equal to or more than the escape range of the platform under attack. A fully integrated Maareech system has both torpedo detection and countermeasure capability,’’ said R. Rajesh, NPOL scientist and spokesperson.

Tactical advantage

‘‘Also, the system offers tactical advantage by classification of the torpedo along with localisation and target motion parameters. The escape solutions are then evolved which will advise the crew of the ship on the most appropriate manoeuvre and countermeasure actions necessary to defeat the threat,” said Mr. Rajesh.
Besides the NPOL, Visakhapatnam-based Naval Science and Technological Laboratory was involved in developing the system. The torpedo defence sonar that is part of Maareech was developed by a team led by project director K. Ajith Kumar, NPOL scientist.

Major milestone

S. Kedarnath Shenoy, NPOL director, said that the induction of Maareech would be a major milestone for naval research and development as it would be the first time the indigenously designed towed array sonar system would be arming Indian warships.
With this, the NPOL has now successfully developed multiple configurations of sonars such as hull mounted sonars for ships, submarine sonar systems, towed array sonars and airborne dunking sonar systems for the Navy.


February 15, 2018

With Sri Lanka and Maldives under Chinese influence, India is fast losing its leverage

The local election results in Sri Lanka show President Sirisena’s diminishing stock. But China will continue to have its way in the indebted island nation.
India is fast losing its strategic advantage in Sri Lanka to the Chinese. With the Maithripala Sirisena regime in Colombo increasingly doing China’s bidding, burdened as it is with huge debts to China, India is apparently on a potentially weak wicket.
The Chinese were going great guns in Sri Lanka when the electoral rout of their protégé Mahinda Rajapaksa’s party stopped them in their tracks. But the setback did not deter them for long. They set about retrieving their position knowing well that Rajapaksa’s successor Maithripala Sirisena was a relative upstart who could be brought around.
Today, with Sri Lanka steeped in debt, principally due to the Chinese development of the Hambantota port, the Lankans have been forced to allow China to literally seize control of the port and surrounding land, on the pretext of loan repayment.
Instructively, Sri Lanka’s debt was almost 80 per cent of the gross domestic product in 2016. That is what propelled Sirisena to look to the Chinese for help in bailing their economy out of trouble.
Much of the mainstream media and opposition members of parliament were up in arms over the original deal worked out by Sirisena with the Chinese. The deal has since been diluted, with China having a financial stake of 70 per cent as against 80 per cent earlier, but the threat to Lankan sovereignty remains. Willy nilly, seeing the level to which Colombo is indebted, most people have reconciled to the inevitability of Chinese hegemony.
The influential Daily News said of the deal: “Ironically, most of the opposition figures themselves were responsible for creating the mess that is Hambantota port in the first place. The fact they themselves had planned to sell off the port to a Chinese company was conveniently forgotten. To the new government’s credit, it acknowledged that certain clauses in the agreement could be tweaked, and it did. The government also ensured that India’s security and geopolitical concerns would be addressed in the new deal.”
The jury is not yet out on how the decision to depend on China would prove to be. For India and Japan, which have been clamouring for freedom of navigation in the high seas, so that international trade can proceed without Chinese impediments, it is bad news indeed. At this rate, India would lose much of the leverage it currently has with Colombo even as Sri Lanka plays second fiddle to Beijing.
Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) and Hambantota International Port Services (HIPS), two new companies set up by the China Merchants Port Holdings Company and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, have been tasked to run the port on a 99-year lease to the Chinese.
Protagonists of the deal say Hambantota port can be expected to play a key role in China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which will link ports and roads between China and Europe, and that this would benefit Colombo a great deal. However, the project’s opponents say they fear the area being turned into a Chinese colony.
Apprehensions that the Chinese navy could use the port as a base have not been convincingly answered by the Sri Lankan government. Assurances apart, there can be no cast-iron guarantee that this assurance from China would not be violated.
For now, Colombo insists that the Sri Lankan navy will be in charge of security at the Hambantota port, and no foreign navy will be allowed to use it as a base.
Past regimes in the US were more conscious of American strategic interests and of sinister Chinese designs, and were ready to work with India in thwarting Beijing. But the US has done very little to prevent China from gaining quick access to the sea through Pakistan by launching its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
In Maldives too, time is running out for China’s adversaries.
All this is giving a strategic advantage to China. It will, in due course, acquire the clout to influence policies not only in Pakistan but also in Sri Lanka and Maldives, and to threaten India if the current trend continues.
Sirisena is rapidly losing ground to Rajapaksa, as is borne out by the results of the local council polls showing the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), backed by Rajapaksa, registering a landslide win. Of the 340 councils, SLPP was the single largest party in 249; the United National Front (UNF) led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was top in 42; while the Sri Lanka Freedom Party/United People’s Freedom Alliance (SLFP/UPFA) led by President Sirisena, was the single largest in just 11. This is a clear reflection of Sirisena’s diminishing stock.
Ironically, it was Rajapaksa who had initiated the Hambantota port and the Mattala airport projects with Chinese loans, but he was quick to blame the Sirisena government for selling these ‘national assets.’
The Chinese cannot but be confident that be it Rajapaksa or Sirisena, they have a way to have their way.


China’s fifth-gen fighter jet now in operation; India’s plans with Russia still stuck

China may have operationalised its new fifth generation fighter aircraft – the only nation in the world other than US with this capability. On the other hand, Indo-Russian plans for an advanced counter to this remain uncertain, with the decision to go ahead now at the doorstep of the top echelons of government.

The J-20 ‘Black Eagle’ fighter jet has been flying since 2011, with China officially announcing its entry into combat service last week, albeit with an older engine that will reduce performance. In contrast, India and Russia have not been able to move ahead on signing a joint development plan for a new fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), that is being negotiated since 2010.

Sources have told ThePrint that despite some progress seen in the first two years of the BJP government when the project was brought back to the table in cross-governmental discussions, talks have hit a major roadblock that can only be resolved with the direct intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

At one end is the Indian Air Force, which has expressed certain reservations on the performance characteristics of the proposed new fighter jet, including its stealth capabilities, the jet engine technology, and weapons package.

The biggest constraint, however, appears to be a lack of resources, with the Air Force not allocated even half of its projected demand for capital budget in the current and next financial years. In fact, resources are so stretched that the Air Force will struggle to meet its committed liabilities – the money required to make tranche payments of past purchases.

At the other end is Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the proposed joint venture partner to manufacture the FGFA in India under an intergovernmental agreement. Faced with a lack of orders – the Su-30 MKI line will come to a halt within two years as all planes will roll out – HAL is keen to go ahead with the FGFA at the earliest.

In fact, it is learnt that HAL had a proposal at hand to use its internal resources to initially fund the developmental project with Russia – a sum to the tune of $ 4.5 billion – and manufacture the planes only after technical clearances from the Air Force. This proposal to tide over the resource crunch faced by the Air Force appears to have hit a roadblock as well.

While India has already spent $300 million on a preliminary design contract for the project with Russia that was completed in June 2013, the joint FGFA is now at a delicate edge, with a decision to be taken by the senior-most leadership on its future.

Time, however, may be running out, with Russia believed to have strongly conveyed that in case India does not take a call within the coming months, Moscow will go ahead with a different partner for the next generation fighter programme to meet its deadlines.