AMCA: India Approves 5th Gen Stealth Fighter Jet Project


CCS nod for Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA): India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the apex decision making body of the Union Government, gave the green light to the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) project on Thursday (March 7, 2024). This project, estimated at around $1.8 billion (Rs 15,000 crore), aims to design and develop a fifth-generation stealth fighter jet.

The Aeronautical Development Agency of the Defence Research and Development Organisation is set to develop the stealth fighter jet and its technologies. This will be done in collaboration with various private and public sector agencies, including Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The plan is to build around five prototypes over the next five years.

Under the Narendra Modi government, indigenous fighter aircraft projects have seen significant support from the Indian Air Force. Over 200 Light Combat Aircraft have been ordered, along with clearance for engines for the LCA Mark-2 project. The Defence Ministry anticipates that the fifth-generation aircraft project will create numerous jobs and generate substantial business for Indian entities.

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India's CCS clears 5th Fighter AMCA.

Wind-tunnel model of India’s 5th gen fighter AMCA.

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The AMCA, a fifth-generation fighter jet, is expected to take flight by 2028. It will feature advanced technologies such as stealth capabilities, AI integration, long-range targeting, and compatibility with unmanned systems. The aircraft is planned to be operational after 2030, potentially paving the way for the development of future generations of fighter jets in India.

Currently, there are only four operational fifth-generation fighters globally. The Americans have two — F-22 Raptor and F-35A Lightning II, the Russians have the Su-57, and the Chinese have the J-20. However, the stealth technology of the Chinese J-20 and the fifth-generation credentials of the Chinese J-31 fighters are yet to be fully recognised.

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Lockheed Martin F-35 Delivery

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

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The first two squadrons of the AMCA, expected to be operational beyond 2030, are planned to be powered by the GE-414 engines. Discussions are ongoing to co-develop more powerful engines for the remaining squadrons. India is likely to induct over 200 of these potent fifth-generation fighters, which would also aid in developing future generations of fighter jets within the country.

India had previously collaborated with the Russians in 2007 for the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) programme to develop a stealth fighter — Su-57. However, due to various reasons, the Indian Air Force’s interest in the FGFA programme diminished, leading to India’s withdrawal in 2018.

The first AMCA prototype, powered by the GE-414 engine, is scheduled for rollout by 2026. The IAF plans to have seven squadrons of the AMCA, equipped with the latest avionics, indigenous AESA radar, and the capability to carry weapons both internally and externally.

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