India wants a ride on the T-50

T-50. Source: Sukhoi

T-50. Source: Sukhoi

India’s Air Force has sought an opportunity from Russia to check out the fifth generation PAK FA (Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation), also known as the T-50, in flight.

“Prior to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s December visit to Moscow, we would like Russia to allow Indian Air Force test pilots the opportunity to test the fifth generation PAK FA in flight. We are now examining all options for collaborating in this project – from joint production to direct purchase of 60-65 airplanes from Russia. To make a final decision we would like to know its flying and technical characteristics in practice,” a source from the Indian Ministry of Defence (MOD) told the Economic Times, reports TASS.

The source also commented that “India, without a doubt, needs a fifth generation fighter that combines all modern technologies and improvements such as stealth, high maneuverability, speed, and also reserve characteristics “for the future”.

According to the MOD representative, an alternative to the Russian T-50 could be the American F-35, which is also undergoing final tests. “However, India has often ignored hints from the USA regarding the possible delivery of this aircraft”, the representative said.

In 2007 Russia and India concluded an inter-governmental agreement for joint production of the T-50. In December 2010, India earmarked $295 million for the project.

“However, three years ago, India slowed down the project, reducing its original order for 166 single-seater and 48 two-seater fighters to 127 single-seater PAK FAs,” said the military official. However, the total cost of the PAK FA for India is about $25 billion for supply of all 127 aircraft”.

“The agreement on the technical details, costs and supply schedule for the fighters might further delay the signing of a final contract for the joint production of the PAK FA, by which both parties must provide $5.5 billion” he said. “For this reason, India is examining the possibility of purchasing ready-made fighters from Russia in order to receive them more quickly”.

The Indian MOD commented that it had high hopes that the PM’s visit to Moscow would stimulate talks on the PAK FA in the interests of both countries. “Russia will receive a serious financial windfall, and India expects that should a direct purchase be made of fifth generation fighters, then it would be possible to reduce the initial time of 94 months to 36 months, which is critically important for the country’s air force, which is starved of technical aviation”, commented the military expert.

India said on August 12, it might purchase three squadrons of ready Russian fifth generation T-50 fighters, instead of constructing 127 similar aircraft with Russia. India does intend to build its own fifth generation fighter.

First published in Russian by Vzglyad.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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