AMCA | Best NDA Coaching in Lucknow
The design for India’s fifth-generation, a low-observability fighter jet is ready. The team behind it explains the process and how the Tejas experience helped
by Pradip R Sagar
The circular, three-storey building is quite unremarkable. But, it is home to something hush-hush and hi-tech. It is the headquarters of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in Vimanapura, an eastern suburb of Bangalore and an aeronautical hub. This is where India’s top defence scientists, helped by 250-odd assistants, are building a fifth-generation stealth fighter.
Stealth technology has so far been dominated by Americans. Even Russia and China have not developed the capability. Unsurprisingly, the ADA HQ is sheathed in a multi-layer security cover. THE WEEK became the first publication to be invited to Vimanapura to report on the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).
Stealth aircraft are designed to avoid detection by enemy radars or air-defence systems. As a fifth-generation stealth fighter, the AMCA is designed for low observability. That is, it would not be easy to detect it and even when detected the #AMCA can ‘disappear’ and get close to the target, giving the enemy little reaction time.
As Girish S Deodhare, director-general, ADA, explains: “Stealth aircraft are required in the early stages of the war to take out the enemy’s air defences. Once you destroy the air defences, other fighters like the LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) can take over.” He said the design of the AMCA was complete. “Now, it is just a matter of making the jet,” he added. A fighter jet has close to 15,000 components and the design of each part has been finalised.
Stealth technology is achieved by using a combination of techniques that reduce the reflection or emission of visible light, radar, infrared, radio frequency spectrum and audio. Advanced stealth features include “serpentine air-intake” (which helps reduce infra-red signature), an internal bay for smart weapons (as opposed to wing-mounted weapons) and radar-absorbent material. It can achieve supersonic cruise speeds without the use of afterburners and will have AESA (active electronically scanned array) radars, which can scan different directions simultaneously.
A single-seater, twin-engine fighter, the AMCA will be 17.6m long, with a wingspan of 11.13m and a maximum take-off weight of 25 tonnes. While the AMCA Mark-1 will be a fifth-generation fighter, the Mark-2 is likely to be sixth-generation. The Mark-2 will also have indigenously manufactured engines instead of the Mark-1’s US-made engines (F414 from GE Aviation). Deodar said that several countries had expressed interest in collaborating on engine development for the Mark-2.
ASHISH KUMAR GHOSH Project director, AMCA BTech (aeronautics engineering), IIT Kharagpur; MTech and PhD, IISc Bangalore Joined the ADA in 1987 From West Bengal
The project’s initial development cost is estimated to be close to ₹15,000 crores. Experts estimate that the US’s fifth-generation stealth fighters—the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II—would have cost around ₹1,86,150 crore and ₹1,06,875 crore, respectively, from the design to development stage. Both were developed by Lockheed Martin. The F-22, the first fifth-generation fighter, was developed in 20 years (1983-2003) and the F-35 in 16 years (1995-2011). As things stand, the first AMCA might roll out by around 2026. It was in 2005, when the F-22 was launched, that the ADA formed a small study group to understand the capabilities of a fifth-generation fighter.
The core group to develop the stealth fighter was formed in 2009 with five defence scientists— Ashish Kumar Ghosh, Krishna Rajendra Neeli, M.B. Angadi, A.K. Vinayagam and Fairoza Naushad. The then deputy chief of the Indian Air Force, N.A.K. Browne gave them the operational requirements of the IAF. The confidence to attempt the design of a stealth aircraft came from the experience the ADA had gained while designing the TEJAS.
Ghosh, also known as “Mr AMCA Man”, is the project director. Neeli, the group director, liaises with the ministry of defence and other stakeholders.
HAL Begins Manufacturing of India’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA)
India’s state-owned aerospace & defence firm Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has started manufacturing India’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) in association with DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Agency.
The AMCA programme entered a crucial phase with the start of manufacturing activities. It is noteworthy that, the plan envisages equipping the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy with a 5.5 Generation twin-engine stealth fighter.
Inside The Design & Development
While the design and development will be carried out by HAL and ADA, private defence firms will also be roped in to manufacture the combat jet. The advanced stealth aircraft will be a multirole fighter capable of carrying out air superiority, ground strike, suppression of enemy air defences and electronic warfare missions.
Notably, the first two squadrons in AMCA MK-1 configuration will be powered by an imported engine, another five squadrons with advanced features (MK-2) will use made-in-India 125-kilonewton engines along with 6th Generation technologies.
It is important to note that the new engine for the fighter will be jointly developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Safran of France.
The advanced stealth aircraft will bolster India’s air arsenal by enhancing air superiority. Further, the naval version of the aircraft will become the primary combat jet operating from the Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers.
Apart from stealth features, the advanced aircraft will encompass three-dimensional thrust vectoring, made-in-India Uttam active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, and internal weapons bay to bolster the stealth capabilities of the aircraft.
AMCA can clock a maximum speed of over 2,600 kilometres per hour (Mach 2.15), along with a combat range of 1,620 km. The fighter will be equipped with 23 mm cannon and will have 14 hardpoints in the non-stealth version to carry armaments weighing 6,500 kilogrammes.
Presently, Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is in process of manufacturing the Mk2 version of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) TEJAS along with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), as well as the AMCA and the Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF), for the Indian Navy.
Addressing the media, Girish S Deodhare, Director General of ADA stated, “The configuration has been frozen, Preliminary Service Quality Requirements (PSQR) are finalised and the preliminary design review is complete. The Critical Design Review (CDR) is expected later this year with the rollout planned in 2024 and first flight planned in 2025.”
To be continued…..