The export version of the T-50 fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) being jointly developed by India and Russia is likely to compete in a South Korean tender for 60 advanced fighter aircraft with stealth capability. This version of T-50 fifth generation fighter, also referred as PAK-FA, is an Indo-Russian endeavor and its success in the South Korean tender can hugely benefit India. The stealth fighter jet will enter service in 2014-2015 according to Russia and the fighter was displayed at the recently held MAKS Air show in Russia.
According to sources, the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) had expressed an interest in the T-50 fifth generation fighter along with other fighters including Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightening II Joint Strike Fighter, Boeing's F-15 Silent Eagle and the Eurofighter Typhoon. As per reports, a Request for Proposal is expected next year and the acquisition to happen by 2016-17, around the time that the PAK-FA will be getting delivered to the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Russian Air Force. Two prototypes of the aircraft have been making test flights since 2010. The PAK-FA can reportedly fly from 1200-foot strips, has all-weather capability and can attack air and ground targets simultaneously.
If South Korea chooses the Pak-FA fighters jointly developed by India and Russia, state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will be a major beneficiary of this procurement as many of the aircraft electronics systems are to be developed in India as part of the work share agreement between India and Russia. The two countries are sharing the development cost of the project estimated at US $ 35 billion.
For the first time, the T-50 FGFA or the PAK-FA has taken part in a public flight display at the MAKS air show in Moscow this week. The HAL delegation headed by senior officials who are involved in the FGFA programme attended the MAKS air show in Moscow this week to witness its first public flight. The Sukhoi T-50 fighter, the base platform of the FGFA, is being jointly developed by India’s HAL and Russia. HAL is also taking part in the MAKS airshow. The difference between PAK FA and the FGFA will be similar to that between Su-30M and Su-30MKI. Su-30M is a standard Russian version of a plane, whereas the Su-30MKI is jointly-developed with HAL for the Indian Air Force (IAF) with different features.
As per reports, the aircraft at the MAKS air show will be a single seat aircraft, but the FGFA being developed for India will be a two-seat version of the Sukhoi T-50. The aircraft has already undergone a number of flight tests in Russia since its first flight in January 2010. The fighter will have advanced features such as stealth, super cruise, ultra-maneuverability, a highly integrated avionics suite, enhanced situational awareness, internal carriage of weapons and Network Centric Warfare capabilities. Russia plans to produce as many as 1,000 PAK FAs over decades of production that may begin within five years. Full production is scheduled for roughly 2015 and India is expected to purchase as many as 200 of them.