India plans to join other military powers - namely the United States, Russia, and (possibly) China - as operators of the only Fifth Generation Fighters in the world. The program is the "Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft" (AMCA) and its finalized form was unveiled during Aero India 2013. As with other 5th Gen types in-the-works (the Sukhoi PAK-FA T-50) or already in existence (the Lockheed F-22 Lightning II), the AMCA will feature a twin-engine, single-seat layout with a diamond-shaped planform and an internal weapons bay. Stealth features will be inherent. The aircraft will be of the "multirole" requirement allowing it to tackle both air-to-air and air-to-ground operations with equal lethality. Much of the work and material will be devised and arranged in India to promote less reliance on outside help. The AMCA represents a chance to secure an indigenous Indian 5th Gen mount - unlike the joint HAL-Sukhoi initiative that is set to produce the "FGFA" aircraft detailed elsewhere on this site. This multi-role fighter is expected as a two-seat derivative of the in-development Russian Sukhoi T-50.
Indian aero-industry further hopes to secure several related developments that will play a vital role in seeing the AMCA come to fruition. These include indigenous fly-by-wire with triple redundancy and digital flight assistance, advanced cockpit displays, and advanced radar-defeating/reducing components and structures. Of course a powerful AESA radar (Active, Electronically-Scanned Array) will feature prominently into the design plans - the new standard in multirole aircraft radar systems.
The last iteration of the AMCA sees a design not unlike the F-22 with a faceted shape making up the fuselage. The single-seat cockpit will seat behind a short nose cone assembly with angled, rectangular intakes fitted to either side and aft of the cockpit position. These openings will aspirate the twin turbofan engine arrangement found at the extreme aft section of the aircraft, arranged in a side-by-side formation. The main wingplanes will be set a midships and aft while being completed in a symmetrical trapezoidal form. The horizontal tailplanes will be featured directly aft of the mainplanes. The aircraft will make use of a twin vertical tail fin configuration. Its weapons bay will be installed at the airframe's center mass, slightly ahead of midships. It is not out of scope to assume that the AMCA will also hold provision for mounting external ordnance to expand its mission roles - though at the expense of some stealth coverage.
Power is expected from 2 x GTRE GTX-35VS "Kaveri" NG turbofans with vectored nozzles for extreme agility. Total output thrust is rated at 12,130lbs each on dry and 20,230lbs of thrust with afterburner engaged. The engine is currently in development and under the direction of the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE).
Development of the AMCA is to reach into 2018 which, at that point, a flyable prototype may become ready. Development will undoubtedly be long and arduous for the growing Indian aero-industry meaning that operational service of the aircraft would not begin until sometime around 2025 or even later. The end-product would go on to serve both the Indian Air Force and Navy. Some delays in the program have already been noted primarily due to the protracted development of the "Light Combat Aircraft" (LCA) program - this having produced the HAL "Tejas" fighter.
In February of 2015 it was announced that the AMCA team had finalized the AMCA's design. Its weight is expected to be between 45,000 lb and 55,000 lb. A twin-engine configuration is expected utilizing General Electric powerplants (possible a modified F414 series) of at least 24,700 lb thrust each. The cost of development is now estimated at $3.2 billion USD though it has not gained government approval to this point.
March 2017 - The external design of the AMCA has been finalized to include a twin tail, twin engine configuration. All other aspects are typical of 5th Generation fighter types like the Lockheed F-22 Raptor. A first-flight is scheduled for sometime in 2024 with service introduction planned for around 2030.
February 2021 - Indian authorities have announced plans to officially pursue a twin-engine carrierborne fighter under the AMCA project heading.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
43.3 ft (13.20 m)
26.9 ft (8.20 m)
14.4 ft (4.40 m)
50,045 lb (22,700 kg)
79,366 lb (36,000 kg)
+29,321 lb (+13,300 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base HAL AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft) production variant)
(Possible): 2 x GTRE GTX 35 V Kaveri NG afterburning turbofan engines developing 20,230 lb of thrust each with reheat.
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