The Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) project is a 5th generation fighter aircraft which aims at making India self-reliant in the field of defense aviation by replacing several imported jets which it is currently reliant on.
The next generation fighters will be able to achieve speeds above Mach 2.15 (2,600 km/h), have super cruise capability (the ability to fly at supersonic speeds without using afterburners) and can take-off and land with maximum payload weight of 7000 kgs (Internal and External carriage).
The AMCA will be built with a view of attaining a high level of survivability without compromising on its performance. With an emphasis on air superiority, air defence and ground attack missions, it will be equipped with latest avionics and embedded software to enable it to perform jamming and electronic warfare missions. The fighter aircraft’s will also use composite materials in its construction, making it lighter than conventional fighters.
The AMCA’s designers were keenly watching the development of the Tejas fighter jet, which was and test-flown by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA). After its back to back exemplary performance, AMCA took notes and design ideas from the base Tejas, however since Tejas is a 4.5 Generational fighter improvements and additions needed to be made for a fifth generational fighter. Thus, AMCA will be equipped with a tailor-made engine, weapons and AESA radar. As of now, it is unclear which engine manufacturer would provide the jet’s power plant. However, according to reports, ADA may collaborate with US aerospace major Lockheed Martin for this purpose.
Looking back during the early 2000’s, India didn’t fathom of competing with the likes of America’s F-15, F-16 or Russia’s Su-27, Mig-29. Both these countries were far ahead in terms of generation and technology. Whilst India was just setting up its industries, both countries were preparing their 4.5 generation fighters. However, India’s aviation and defense industry has witnessed innovation at an unprecedented rate. From plans being drafted around 2005-2010 to it coming to live today is no short of praise for the minds that have gone behind this project. Going from a pure import country to manufacturing its own fighter planes to today where we are exporting them to foreign countries, competing with the likes of America and Russia, India has set an example for the others to follow.
However, India still seems to be reliant on foreign players for a lot of its components. To be truly independent and indigenous, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is planning to roll out India’s first home-grown fighter aircraft engine by 2030, with help of either French firm Snecma and British firm Rolls Royce or Pratt and Whitney, placing it well deep into the club of select few countries. Till then, it’s a game of mixing and matching to get the best outcome.