Defence News: Ok, first the good news: Indian AMCA project may take off sooner than we expect. Why? because the Russians want a whole lot more money than what they asked for the FGFA. A huge 1,60,000 crore! Now that may tick off the fighter from IAF charts, atleast for co-development part. That has India looking at it’s own AMCA project with more seriousness (at last).
The Multi role transport aircraft deal is another piece that had been shelved by India due to huge costs involved and IAF would not need more than a few dozens to justify the huge costs. Now the Russians are asking to double the projected investment by India and commit to 127 planes from the start. The PAK-FA (Russian version) and FGFA (for India) is a direct competitor with the F22 and F35 programs of USA. It is still unconfirmed news that USA is looking to develop a 6th generation fighter, jumping a generation in a bid to outclass every other aircraft around the world. Such moves along with not so “top notch” technologies available with Russia in the area of 5th generation fighters has moved India to look at it’s own AMCA project.
A committee had been formed under Air Marshal (retired) S Varthaman to see whether the FGFA planes are really required by the IAF and how did the Russian aircraft compared with the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) proposed by the DRDO to be developed as an indigenous fifth generation combat plane. This committee has already given presentations to defence minister Arun Jaitley on the matter as the government has to take a final call on whether the FGFA is required or not.
Till what end will we think about Russian equipment at their own terms and conditions? Would the IAF commit to orders before the product comes out? This is what every co-development project demands, if we just forget about the costs (which of-course seem impossible to meet). The big question is: Why do we refuse orders to our own manufacturers like DRDO for critical projects like Arjun tank, LCA tejas (orders placed only recently) etc. Then we go blind on placing orders for unproven foreign platform (T90 with its strings attached like no cooling, night devices missing, even the SU-30 was not MKI when we ordered it, it hardly had the armament)
Our Armed forces are so confident of foreign suppliers that they keep plunging funds in empty wells yet do not trust Indian industry. We keep feeding other countries and their defence industry, their shipyards and their aircraft industry. Heck even guns are imported in most cases until recently, while our manufacturing lags. It’s not so that they deliver exceptional weapons, they are fraught with lack of spares, bad quality at times, unreliable junked technology. Not to forget that they are “export” versions with less capability than their native counterparts.
In my opinion, we need to junk foreign imports slowly while building indigenous capabilities. Our scale of demand makes it feasible to develop our own weapons and also create export products out of them. Sure Russia is a good friend and they have been paid well for what they’ve done for us. On our part we have sustained their industry in dire times if they have helped us in ours. It’s time we say a polite no and move with our own projects. Indian engineering is the best in the world, we just have to employ our abilities wisely and with an iron will.