The initial version of a new Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) is to be unveiled in India in 2014.
The jet, costing $11 billion in research and development alone, is being dubbed one of the most advanced in the world. It is being jointly created by India and Russia, and is hope to be inducted in the Indian Air Force by 2022.
IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne said. "The first prototype of the FGFA is scheduled to arrive in India by 2014 after which it will undergo extensive trials at the Ojhar air base (Maharashtra)... we are hopeful that the aircraft would be ready for induction by 2022."
Two prototypes will follow the initial version in 2017 and 2019. According to the success of test flights, a final jet will be developed for operational service.
Fifth Generation Fighter AircraftBy the end of 2030, the IAF hopes to acquire 214 of these models at an estimated cost of $30 billion. India and Russia are set to sign a key contract; the biggest ever defense deal, by the year's end, or early 2013.
"Russia has already given the draft R&D contract to us. It will include the cost of designing, infrastructure build-up at Ozar, prototype development and flight-testing. So, India will have scientists and test pilots based both in Russia and Ozar during the R&D phase up to 2019. HAL will subsequently begin manufacturing the fighters," said a source.
The FGFA will be smaller than the current frontline Su-30 MKI, and will feature stealth capabilities. The design was agreed on the jet on September 11, 2010 and will be finalized later this year.
Changes have already been made to requirements, including seating arrangements. Originally, India specified for a minimum of 166 single-seat and 48 twin-seat of the FGFAs, but has now decided on only single cock-pit jets.
The T-50 and F-35 are single-seater aircraft. India have noted that a second cockpit would compromise the aircraft's stealth ability by 15%, in addition to adding extra weight and reducing fuel capacity. Further, R&D costs could increase by an additional $2 billion for the twin-seater version.
India is also planning to add 126 Medium-Multirole Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA) and about 140 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) to its fleet, after their fighter squadron numbers were declining.