Russia has said that the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) program that is being planned with India would be a 'completely new aircraft' and is not linked to Moscow's own new generation fighter, the Sukhoi T 50. In a detailed discussion, Russia's largest state holding company in the defence sector, Rostec has said that it is worrying that faster progress has not been made by the Indian side to finalise the project.
"We have raised the matter at the highest level and had discussions at Aero India as well. What is worrying is that we are not yet taking the program ahead," Viktor N Kladov, Direct, International Cooperation, Rostec said, adding that he was hopeful that progress will be made this year to sign on the dotted line.
There has been little progress on the FGFA project since 2010, when then defence minister AK Antony had announced that all issues have been resolved and the air force said that it expects deliveries to start in 2017. However, India and Russia have not yet signed an agreement to take the project forward, with the air force constituting a new three member committee to reevaluate the project.
Russia is keen to differentiate the Indian project with its ongoing T 50 fighter jet program. "The Indian FGFA is not a copy cat of the T 50, it will be a new aircraft that will also have some technologies from the T 50. If India had wanted the T 50, we would not be working on a new aircraft (FGFA) program," Kladov said.
Answering a query by ET on whether the Russian side would be willing to work on integrating a western engine to the fifth generation aircraft (Russia has been facing delays due to this), the executive said that such an approach would not be practical due to the history of sanctions by western powers.
"Even in our plans to develop a new commercial aircraft to take on Boeing and Airbus, we are insisting on our own engine due to the past sanctions. In a military project these concerns are even more," Kladov said.