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Roadmap revealed for Medium Combat Aircraft

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The head of India's Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) has revealed key details of the roadmap for developing the proposed indigenous medium combat aircraft (MCA) in an interview with Flight International.

ADA will complete a feasibility study by the end of 2011, which will be submitted to the Indian government and air force, says PS Subramanyam, programme director at the ADA.

The study will consider several areas: the number of MCA prototypes, prototype timelines, funding, and production schedules for the final aircraft. "The MCA will be in flight trials by the end of the decade and it will be inducted by the middle of the next decade," says Subramanyam.

Subramanyam also describes how the MCA will fit into the Indian air force's future structure. It will be a 20t aircraft with a 1,000km (621.4mi) range, fitting between the 10t, 500km range of the Hindustan Aeronautics Tejas and the 30t, 1,500km range of the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), an Indian variant of the developmental Sukhoi PAK FA.

Subramanyam says the MCA "does not clash" with the FGFA, and will be comparable to the Lockheed Martin F-35, with the FGFA comparable to the F-22 Raptor. The MCA will be a single-seat fighter. A two-seat version will be developed but primarily as a trainer. A naval variant is not envisaged but Subramanyam foresees a need for a 20t aircraft for India's own future aircraft carriers. A naval variant of the Tejas was rolled out mid-2010 and is likely to have its first flight this year.

In a recent interview with Flight International, IAF Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik said the MCA would be a medium-weight combat aircraft with low observable features and a payload capability of more than five tonnes. It will have swing role capability and "provide greater flexibility in the application of aerospace power".

The ADA said the MCA will have a number of features to increase its stealth.

It will be powered by two Kaveri engines. The Kaveri, still in development, will eventually replace the General Electric engine in the Tejas.

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Source: Flight International