IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


11th March, 2024 Security


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The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) this week cleared a Rs 15,000 crore project to design and develop the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), India’s fifth-generation fighter multirole fighter jet.


  • The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will be the nodal agency for executing the programme and designing the aircraft.
  • It will be manufactured by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
  • The aircraft will put India in a select group of nations that have their own fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

Features of AMCA


  • The 25-tonne twin-engine aircraft, which will be bigger than other fighters in the Indian Air Force inventory, will have advanced stealth features to avoid detection by enemy radar.
  • The aircraft would be on par or even superior to other fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft in use globally.
  • Having seen the development of the LCA (Light Combat Aircraft Tejas) project, which is a contemporary fighter aircraft, this aircraft (AMCA) would be able to compete with other stealth fighters in the world.


  • The aircraft will have a large, concealed internal fuel tank of 5-tonne capacity, and an internal weapons bay for a range of weapons, including indigenous weapons, to be buried in its belly.


  • The AMCA Mk1 variant will have the US-built GE414 engine of the 90 kilonewton (kN) class, while the more advanced AMCA Mk2 will fly on the more powerful 110kN engine, which will be developed indigenously by DRDO’s Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) in collaboration with a foreign defence major.
  • India has been talking with Safran SA of France, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of aircraft engines and related equipment, in order to finalise the roadmap for the development of the combat aircraft engine.
  • Other features such as a diverterless supersonic inlet for controlling air flow into the engines, and a serpentine air intake duct to shield the engines from radar emissions, are likely to be part of the AMCA.

Why AMCA is special

  • Discussions for developing the AMCA started in 2007. The initial plan was to jointly develop the aircraft with Russia under a Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) However, India withdrew from the FGFA project in 2018.
  • The AMCA will be India’s indigenous fifth-generation fighter aircraft. The indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas is a 4.5-generation single-engine multirole aircraft.
  • What will set the fifth-generation combat aircraft apart from the existing fourth-generation is primarily its stealth features.
  • The aircraft will have a low electro-magnetic signature, which will make it difficult for enemy radar to detected it. At the same time, it will have powerful sensors and new weapons, so it is able to register the signature of enemy aircraft and take them out.
  • A fourth-generation aircraft is typically not designed or configured to have these stealth features, even though some features may be added later. But even that will not make it a fully fifth-generation aircraft.
  • Stealth features such as an internal weapons bay and a bigger internal fuel tank are part of fifth-generation aircraft like AMCA. Up to four long-range air-to-air missiles and multiple precision-guided munitions can be carried in the internal weapons bay, with a payload of 1,500 kg.
  • External fuel tanks and externally attached weapons leave a huge signature and are easy to detect for radar. The special material that will be used on the aircraft surface will divert the radar signature instead of reflecting it back.
  • Another important aspect would be to ensure a higher utilisation time and smaller serviceability or maintenance periods for the aircraft.
  • This will be aided by the inclusion of a comprehensive Integrated Vehicle Health Management (IVHM) system to keep track of multiple structural components, and to assess the condition of the aircraft in real-time.

Development timeline

  • Following the CCS approval, which had been pending for more than a year and a half, the ADA hopes to have the first flight of the aircraft in four and a half to five years.
  • The full development of the aircraft is expected to take around 10 years from now. Five prototypes will be built before HAL begins manufacturing the aircraft. The private industry is also expected to be involved in the manufacturing of the aircraft.

Other fifth-generation fighters

  • Only a few countries have built a fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft. The list of the aircraft currently in service includes the F-22 Raptor and F-35A Lightning II of the US, the Chinese J-20 Mighty Dragon, and the Russian Sukhoi Su-57.

IAF’s dwindling numbers

  • The IAF currently has around 30 fighter squadrons against the sanctioned strength of 42. This number is expected to go down further as squadrons of MiG-21s, MiG-29s, Jaguars, and Mirage 2000s are scheduled to be phased out by the middle of the next decade.
  • The IAF has indicated that it requires seven squadrons of the AMCA to begin with. Considering the IAF’s requirements, the planned inductions of additional squadrons of LCAs and AMCA will not add up to the sanctioned squadron strength in a decade.


  • In the neighbourhood, according to reports Türkiye is keen on involving Pakistan and Azerbaijan in its fifth-generation fighter jet `Kaan’ project. Türkiye’s fifth generation fighter jet `Kaan’ undertook its first flight recently.
  • A few years ago, China had also claimed to make the fifth-generation fighter jet with the production of J-20 Chengdu fighter jet. However, aviation experts had refused to consider the J-20 as a stealth fighter jet.


  • Because IAF’s SU-30 MKI had once detected China’s fifth generation aircraft in the LAC airspace adjacent to Arunachal Pradesh. Whereas Fifth Generation Stealth Fighter Jets cannot be detected by any radar. In such a situation, China is now secretly working on another stealth fighter jet.
  • In such a situation, Russia and America are the only two countries which have fifth generation stealth fighter jets in their air force.
  • America has two stealth fighter jets, F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning. Russia also has Su-57 and Su-75 Checkmate jets. Russia had recently offered Checkmate to India. But it is certain that India is now betting on its indigenous AMCA fighter jet.


Fifth generation fighter jet `Kaan’ often mentioned in news is associated with which of the following country?

  1. USA
  2. Turkey
  3. China
  4. Iran

Answer B