EXCLUSIVE: India’s 5th Gen AMCA Targets 2030

As your correspondent reports, the first 1:1 full scale model of India’s fifth generation concept Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is being built in Bengaluru. Later this year, the model will undergo a series of rigorous tests at an RCS facility in Hyderabad, where the programme team will have its fest chance at seeing how the shape they’ve chosen for the jet deals with radiation. The exercise will be historic. Because it will be the first time India will be specifically testing a stealth airframe.

Cmde C.D. Balaji, chief at the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) met with Livefist at the Aero India show for a chat on the programme. ‘This will be our first big learning process. We need to be sure about the conformal antennas and shapes before we finalise the airframe,’ he says. Another very crucial application the team plans to bring into play is computational electromagnetics, to simulate in parallel how the concept jet deals with radar and other assaults built to beat stealth.

‘About 60-70% of the stealth we intend will come from the aircraft’s shape. The rest we are discovering as we develop the aircraft. Nothing like this has ever been attempted before,’ Balaji says. An AMCA model debuted at Aero India 2009, the first time anyone got a sense of what the ADA was looking to build.

The team at ADA expects full-scale engineering development till the prototype stage to take at least a decade. Livefist also learnt that the team now has a specific timeframe for a first flight: 2030, with low-rate production to begin in 2035. ‘If you consider that the LCA Mk.1 will be built till 2024 and the LCA Mk.2, when ordered, should be built between 2030-35, then 2035 is good target for production of the AMCA,’ Balaji says.

The AMCA project could find additional backing and strength owing to persistent problems India faces from Russia over the T-50 FGFA programme. On Tuesday, Defence Minister Parrikar even admitted that there were problems that needed sorting. Earlier this year, the government took the surprising step of setting up a committee to go over the FGFA programme and actually see if India benefits at all. Negotiations have meandered over work share and how qualitatively India will even contribute to the programme other than be its largest operator. Sources on the AMCA team wouldn’t commit, but wouldn’t deny that trouble with the FGFA programme only placed greater (and welcome) pressure on the indigenous effort to deliver on time and cost — and capability.

The AMCA team has three new models on display at Aero India 2017:

And here’s a bit from the ADA’s new video providing fresh detail on the platform and its mission:

15 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE: India’s 5th Gen AMCA Targets 2030”

  1. The 2035 timeline is setting it for another LCA type exercise. When the big boys will be inducting un-manned combat jets, will IAF give priority to inducting AMCA?

    In 2030-35 our GDP will. 3-4 the size of today and irrespective if we are in the US or Chinese or Russian camp, the latest and greatest will be on offer for IAF from these countries.

    Who wouldn’t want a big piece of Indian 2035 defence budget?

    If you want to deliver in 2035, why no leapfrop. Atleast delays will not hurt.

    I am predicting IAF will loose interest in AMCA in the nest 5 years. If they had any, they would force ADA to roll out a prototype by now.

  2. First flight in 2030 is too late. In 2035, F35 will be available at optimal price and will be dumped on us or even Rafael will be. As part of recent new fighter deal, we should upgrade our aerospace infra and adopt faster prototyping techniques as part of offsets.

  3. The aged designers of this project will be dead by the time it was told to be produced or Inducted…So probably it was job saving , safe retirement , timely delayed intention perhaps…By senior Members.. Sorry if my words hurt anyone…But the intended delay seems so to most of the young talents in India..

  4. The aged designers of this amca project will be dead by the time it was told to be produced or Inducted…So probably it was job saving , safe retirement , timely delayed intention perhaps…By senior Members.. Sorry if my words hurt anyone…But the intended delay seems so to most of the young talents in India..

  5. it is irrelevant whether AMCA flies in 2025 or 2030. in asia, even chinese wont be able to field their stealthy fighters in active duty because of the reasons the american F22 are rotting in their bases, that is lack of any mission, even though USA is good at invading! the main focus of india should be to get the basics in the critical tech areas straight. first lets us master the K9 and then operationalise the UTTAM AESA, and indigenise the various smartbombs and BVR that we currently import. once the jet starts flying we can easily integrate future genrations characteristics like that of swarm ucav, etc. if we dont build the indigenous capabilities independent of PSUs then when the war strikes we will not be able to undertake real-time improvisations in the high-tech arena, becoz we wont be needing AMCA to fight pakistan. in korea, or japan or turkey, evry stealth fighter is somehow dependent on west. even chna is dependent on west as they need to steal their data! but india cant be at ransom of BAE, or SAAB or BOEING for AMCA!

    besides, things have been moving very fast in HAL, in the last one-half years. am no insider or an expert. for the head of a supposedly black project to say that to would take another ten years to build the prototype, seems to me like a disinformation. after all, none of us knew that K4 was going to launched from arihant, did we? and if they have frozen the design and 70% of stealth is dependent on fuselage, and since unlike tejas (where new institutions were made for project),know-how of FBW and all exists in-house , i wonder what would cause the delay . perhaps engone and radar is the issue, but even tejas prototypes didnt always use american ge404! so why the delay? cannot understand! maybe its my ignorance! still wud like some answers though!

  6. Shiv, firstly, thank you very much for the coverage!

    I have one question to ask, is there a typo here:

    ” ‘If you consider that the LCA Mk.1 will be built till 2024 and the LCA Mk.2, when ordered, should be built between 2030-35, then 2035 is good target for production of the AMCA,’ Balaji says.”

    Should it be rather “built between 2025-2035” rather than “2030-2035”? I find it difficult to believe there would be a 5 year gap between Mk1A production ceasing and Mk2 production starting as well as Mk2 development taking 13+ years.

    Thanks so much, Tej!

    1. Also, one last question, by “LCA Mk1” and “LCA Mk2” is he referring to the Indian Air Force Tejas variants? i.e. Mk1 = Mk1 + Mk1A and LCA Mk2 = LCA Tejas Mk2? Rather than referring to the Indian Naval, N-LCA Mk1 and N-LCA Mk2 variants?

      Once again, thanks very much!

  7. Nishith Mukherjee

    Another area of concern is to protect our IPR from others particularly Chinese who are masters of stealth. They would employ money as well ISI to get IPR. Please enlighten. Thanks for new information

  8. that,s absurd !! China will build dual engine 8th gen fighter by then !!! irony is we are going to throw money on single engine gripen ! !!Can you believe it india is worst then smallest country in the world you could find ( swindon ) ! where the fuck is tejas ? it,s been more than 30 years !!

  9. We are not in a Situation Compare India With Countries Lyk China ,USA.(GDP USA-20 Trillion China-19 Trillion//India-2.3 Trillion.
    No words ”’ How You People are Compering India With USA and China..Leave China ,USA we are less Superior to Country Lyk Israeli & Sweden…..

    Blame those Policy Maker who are Completely Responsible for this…
    1.Lack of Political Willingness.
    2.Cast reservation in PSU or R&D sector result(Good Brain or Merritt People have no place to Use their Talent or Idea).
    3. Huge Population(Required Money not Allotted to Defense Procurement or research) .
    5.No accountability for all Running or Absconding Defense Project(No seriousness or Target or Penalty).
    6.N number of reason are there…

    Mr,Durtma Gandhi, Basta– Nehuru..at last the 60 years Congress (Fake Gandhi/Original Khan Family responsible for this..(Sonia Khan/Vinci/Fake Gandhi net worth 19.21 Billion USA Dollar),where she Got this ..Only through Commission through defense Procurement and Scams..
    …Please wake of Boys and Try to know the Fact…..

  10. The coverage is excellent. It is very reader friendly and informs the reader about developments in acquisition of equipment by the Defence Services with commendable clarity.

  11. It is time private players took this challenge. They will atleast deliver in another 5-6 years, if the infrastructure with the public sector players are thrown open to them. In 2035, the world will be in 6th Generation jets not in this 5th generation manned aircraft!

  12. I can give guarantee that if at anytime in Olympic game , the competition of laziness comes dn nobody in this world can beat u guys , model showed at 2017 , n perfect time of production is 2035 , u can take some more time , fly first prototype at 2050, produce it in 2090 my son or daughter will see AMCA flying in the sky… till dn modify n upgrade tejas …

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