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Talks on 5th-generation jet project, contract may be signed soon: Official

India and Russia have been working on a joint project to develop the fifth generation fighter aircraft, but despite it being in the pipeline for around a decade

IANS  |  New Delhi 

Sergey Chemezov
Rostec Corporation CEO Sergei Chemezov (Photo: https://twitter.com/Rostec_Russia)

Even as a project on the development of a Fifth Generation Fighter (FGFA) between and remains stuck, a top Russian said the talks are in the "second stage" and a contract document may be signed soon.

In an interview to IANS, Sergey Chemezov, of Rostec Corporation, said that while has traditionally not made single-engine fighter jets, it can join hands with in making these jets, which has announced under its new Strategic Partnership model, if it is "invited".

and have been working on a joint project to develop the fifth generation fighter aircraft, but despite it being in the pipeline for around a decade, a final contract has not yet been signed.

Chemezov said a contract document is likely to be signed in the near future, but did not give any timeline.

"The first stage of the project is completed, now the second stage is under discussion. I think that the contract documents will be signed in the very near future," Chemezov told IANS.

"The project is very complex, but the work continues, although not so quickly," he said.

and had inked an inter-governmental pact for the FGFA project in 2007. It was to be based on the Russian Sukhoi-57 or the fighter jet.

In December 2010, had agreed to pay $295 million towards the preliminary design of the fighter, also referred to as Perspective Multi-role Fighter (PMF).

However, negotiations faced various hurdles in the subsequent years.

After evaluating the first PAK FA prototype, the (IAF) wanted more than 40 changes to address, among other things, perceived weaknesses in the plane's engine, stealth, and weapon-carrying capability.

There were several disagreements between and Moscow, including on work and cost share, technology, as well as the number of to be ordered.

There was also Indian concerns over the extent of transfer of technology, since the will be developed based on the Russian PAK FA jet.

A committee was later constituted under Air Marshal Simhakutty Varthaman, which has submitted its report to the Defence Ministry, but the content of the report has not been made public.

Informed sources said the IAF felt the deal was very expensive as the cost of developing four prototype fighter jets would be around $6 billion.

However, in October 2017, (HAL)

backed the India-FGFA programme, saying it will bring

Asked if was interested in participating in making single-engine fighter jets in under the Strategic Partnership model, Chemezov said would participate if it is "invited".

Chemezov said that traditionally has developed only twin-engine fighter jets, but and can develop a single-engine fighter together if invited

"is very strong in the production of various types of twin-engine aircraft, but at present we do not produce single-engine fighters. And our main twin-engine aircraft, both and Sukhoi, are used by the IAF," he said.

"But if wants to develop its own one-engine aircraft, and if is interested in international cooperation to develop this aircraft, and Rostec will be open to cooperation," the said.

"Thus, if we are invited to participate in the joint development of a single-engine aircraft, we are ready to do this, as it was done in the past with other Russian-Indian projects. The BrahMos supersonic missile is a good example of such cooperation between the two countries," Chemezov added.

is looking forward to replacing its fleet of Russian and and a process for making single-engine in the country is expected to be initiated soon under the new

So far, and US plane-maker have signed an agreement to produce fighters in India, and Swedish major and Indian group have also announced a tie-up. The two are so far the main competitors in the project, for which a Request For Information (RFI) is likely to be issued soon.

First Published: Fri, January 26 2018. 13:38 IST
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