India’s next-gen stealth fighter may not be what we thought

fgfa.jpgEven amidst the PAK-FAs, J-20s, KF-Xs, F-22s and F-35s, the favourite next generation stealth fighter concept of any worthy aviation journalist has always belonged to India. Why? The Sukhoi/HAL fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) was introduced as the world’s only two-seat stealth fighter, which means it will soon become the only free ticket for a backseat ride.

But there appears to have been some misunderstanding. Either the Indian Air Force allowed the two-seat fighter story to spread without a challenge, or they have radically re-thought the FGFA’s design and concept of operations in the last several months.

NAK Browne, air chief marshal of the Indian air force, said yesterday in New Delhi that he actually plans to buy 166 single-seat and 48 twin-seat versions of the FGFA, which will be derived from the Sukhoi PAK-FA. Browne’s statement means that India has trimmed its projected order from a rough estimate of around 250 to a more precise 214. More importantly, it also means the two-seat fighter will likely be relegated to the training role, with the single-seater tasked for operations.

At least the two-seat variant has still survived, at least for now. We want our back-seat ride at AeroIndia 2021!



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