India has reportedly decided that it will join hands with Russia to co-develop and co-produce a fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) only on the condition that Moscow agrees for full-scale transfer of technology for such aircraft.
According to a report in Times of India, the decision taken at the "highest levels" in the government is aimed at ensuring that the mistakes of the entire Sukhoi-30MKI jet acquisition programme from Russia are not repeated.
Quoting its source, the report points out that there is a view in the government that the Rs 55,717 crore Sukhoi deal failed to provide any tangible help in developing indigenous fighter-manufacturing capabilities.
"Though bulk of the 272 Sukhois (240 inducted till now) contracted from Russia have been made by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), they have been basically assembled here with imported knocked-down kits. HAL still cannot manufacture the Sukhois on its own," TOI quoted its source as saying.
Apart from that, he also added that a Sukhoi aircraft made by HAL for around Rs 450 crore, costs Rs 100 crore more than the price of the same jet imported from Russia.
Learning from its Sukhoi experience, the Indian government, according to the TOI source, has now laid down two essential prerequisites for the FGFA project.
The first condition is that there should be extensive technology transfer, including the "source codes", to ensure India can in the future upgrade the fighter with integration of new weapons on its own.
The second one is that it should directly help the indigenous FGFA project called the advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA).
India has already started working on the preliminary design of AMCA.
The TOI report further quoted its source as saying that a high-level committee headed by an Air Marshal from Indian Air Force (IAF) is examining all these aspects and the government will take a final call in this matter after the committee submits its report in April.