Bangalore: Preliminary design work on the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) being developed jointly with Russia will be completed next month, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) chairman R.K. Tyagi said on Thursday.
Around 30 engineers from HAL are in Russia to work on the preliminary design with Russian counterparts.
Tyagi told reporters at the Aero India show in Bangalore that around 30 engineers from HAL are already in Russia to work on the preliminary design with Russian engineers.
The FGFA is a military plane being developed by India and Russia under an agreement signed in December 2010 by HAL, the Russian defence agency Rosoboronexport, and Sukhoi Co.
Two separate prototypes will be developed, one by Russia and a separate one by India. The FGFA project is expected to add 250 fighter jets to the Indian Air Force by 2022.
Tyagi said that once the design is finalized, the research and development phase will start. “Three prototypes will be developed at our facility in Nasik in collaboration with our Russian partners”, he said.
After this, HAL will begin manufacturing and hopes to enter the flight testing and certification phase by 2018. While the airframe will be manufactured in Nasik, the engines will be manufactured in HAL’s Koraput facility in Orissa.
Tyagi also said that an estimate for the cost of the FGFA programme can be arrived at only when the R&D process begins. Some estimates have put the manufacturing and development cost at close to $30 billion.
Air chief marshal N.A.K Browne said at a separate press conference that he expected production to begin by 2022. He said that once the air force is satisfied with the performance of the test aircraft, it will decide what will go into the FGFA. “We may equip the aircraft differently from the Russian ones,” he said.
The indigenously developed fighter aircraft Tejas is expected to get its initial operational clearance by June, said Tyagi. “We, as a manufacturing partner, are ready with our machines, and we are ready to manufacture 8 machines every year,” he said.
Browne said the Tejas will be part of a four-week long exercise called Livewire scheduled for March or April. “This exercise will be held in number of phases, integrating all components in different scenarios,” he said.