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Indian pilots will finally get to fly the Russian prototype of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) once the contract between New Delhi and Moscow on the joint development of futuristic combat jet is finalized.
Access to the Russian next-generation jet was one of the key sticking points between the two countries leading to the enormous delay in the project taking-off. Cost escalation and questions on serious technical deficiencies in the offer on plate were other breaking points.
The issue was resolved after intervention at the highest political level after officials failed to break the deadlock that had threatened to derail the much-anticipated project that would have addressed Indian Air Force’s requirement for a futuristic fighter jet. It is an important breakthrough as New Delhi had been trying to have a closer look at the Russian prototype (T-50) of PAK-FA on which the Indian version, called the Prospective Multi-Role Fighter (PMF), is based.
Despite India paying $295 million for the preliminary design, Russia was not keen to share technical details of the prototype. Six prototypes of PAK-FA are currently flying. The project, which started in 2007, has now been resurrected. The projected cost agreed in 2011 was $10.5 billion.
India had found several problems in the preliminary design as it was worried about the maintenance, the engines, stealth features and the weapon carriage system. Sources said that once the research and development contract is finalized, for which negotiations were underway, the Indian pilots will get to fly the prototype. The aircraft forms part of the IAF’s future fighter matrix. Under the initial plan, it was proposed that 94 months will be taken after the signing of the agreement to complete the development program.
With the plan already running significantly behind schedule, the inductions will have to wait until the contract is finally sealed. As reported by Mail Today, Russia had held a demonstration flight of the aircraft for the Indian experts which ended in disaster as the plane caught fire.
The incident had added fuel to the Indian concerns about the platform. The political push now has provided fresh thrust to the program. India had initially sought around 40 trainer versions of the FGFA but the plan was later shelved as Russia developed single seater combat jets.
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