One and a half years have passed since India left the joint project with Russia to create the fifth generation FGFA fighter (Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft). Motivating the exit, New Delhi said that the Su-57 aircraft, on the basis of which a car should be created for India, is of poor quality. Its characteristics are so weak that the aircraft can not be attributed to the fifth generation.
The retired Indian lieutenant general P. Katosh , a veteran of special forces, criticized the media as hasty and not in the interests of the country. Moreover, the promise of the Indian government to independently, without attracting foreign specialists and technology, to create its fifth generation fighter, the general considers not only unrealistic, but also ridiculous.
Katosh negatively assesses the massive information attack on the FGFA project, which the government initiated at one time: “It would be better if these media outlets covered the ineffective functioning of our Ministry of Defense with its poor planning. Remember, the Indian Air Force previously opposed the joint development of the 5th generation fighter with Russia. It was, in fact, the deliberate refusal of our Ministry of Defense to jointly implement a major project using foreign technologies. Does anyone really believe that India will develop a new generation fighter itself, without cooperation with foreign companies? Why didn’t they begin to develop the project with Russia, didn’t they begin to refine it, adjust it to your own needs? ”
The general, one and a half years after the adoption of the destructive decision, notes that the Russian designers have not been sitting all this time, idly by. What during this time the design of the Su-57 was made “for several dozen changes.” And this indicates the improvement of the fighter before taking it into service.
So, what did India “incriminate” to the Russian plane? The fact is that all the claims, and there were few of them, for the most part repeated the criticism that the Russian fighter was subjected to by military experts who lobbied the products of Lockheed Martin – F-35 – the main competitor of Sukhoi Design Bureau.
The main complaint is that the Su-57 does not have sufficient invisibility for the enemy radar. And therefore it can not be considered a fifth generation aircraft. Significant effective scattering area (EPR) of a Russian aircraft (larger than that of the F-35), according to theoretical estimates, is predetermined by the geometry of its glider. And mainly – nozzles and air intake.
But so far the round nozzle has been replaced with a flat one, which became possible when switching from the first-stage engine to the second-stage engine. Thus, noticeability in both the radar and infrared spectra decreased.
The expert community has more questions about the Su-57 air intakes, because it uses direct air ducts through which the enemy’s radar “sees” the turbine blades. In American aircraft F-22 and F-35 air ducts are S-shaped.
It would seem – a blatant design error. However, Sukhoi Design Bureau cannot be suspected of amateurism. The scheme with direct air intakes is selected in order, firstly, to increase engine power due to greater air flow. And secondly, to get internal compartments for larger missile and bomb weapons. The use of S-shaped air intakes in the F-22 and F-35 led to such a layout of the aircraft, in which the stock of missiles and bombs on internal suspensions is significantly less than that of the Su-57.
At the same time, the design of the air intakes (if they are covered with an anti-radar grid) does not so much reduce stealth. There is great confirmation of this. Two prototypes clashed at a tender for the creation of an attack fighter for the Air Force, Navy and the US Marine Corps: from Lockheed Martin X-35 (future F-35) and from Boeing X-32. The X-32 had a direct air intake, but in terms of EPR, both aircraft were almost identical. So it’s not so simple in the field of stealth technologies. And a speculative assessment of the level of stealth is rarely when it coincides with the real state of affairs. Well, the X-32 tender lost for a completely different reason – it was poorly adapted for use on universal landing ships operated by the US Marine Corps.
Even the Indians were dissatisfied with the engine of the AL-41F1 fighter, allegedly it is “weak.” However, the main characteristic used to judge whether an engine meets its requirements is not the thrust it develops, but the thrust-to-weight ratio of the aircraft. That is, the ratio of the total thrust of the fighter engines to its mass.
And here the F-35 has the weakest positions. Its thrust-to-weight ratio with normal take-off weight is 0.89. According to this parameter, the aircraft belongs to the group of fighters that appeared in the 60s-70s: the French Mirage, the American F-4 and F-14, the Soviet Su-17 and MiG-23. All currently operating fighters have a great thrust-weight ratio: the Swedish Gripin (0.94), the American deck Super Hornet (0.95), the French Rafal and the American F-16 (1.02), fifth-generation fighter F- 22 (1.09). At 1.13 conventional units of the Typhoon fighter and Russian Su-35 and Su-57.
The claims were completely far-fetched. Because, for example, at the moment of contract termination, the engine of the second stage “Type 30”, which has more thrust, was already beginning to be tested. And by the time the Russian-Indian project was nearing completion, the aircraft would begin to be delivered with a new engine.
And that would be much earlier than the year 2030–2032, when the Indian Air Force intends to get its own fifth-generation fighter.
By the way, before making a fifth-generation aircraft, you must learn to independently make normal fourth-generation machines. True, the Indians are doing – the Su-30MKI. But this is a purely Russian development, to which Indian designers have nothing to do. The production of these multi-role fighters is established in India by Russian specialists. And it is carried out according to the license acquired from Sukhoi Design Bureau.
In 2015, the Indian Air Force introduced light multi-purpose fighters HAL Tejas (“Diamond”), which were developed before being adopted for 30 years. But permission for their operation in the Air Force was received only at the beginning of this year.
The Indians attribute Tejas to the fourth generation, which is still a stretch. But even in the Indian “Diamond” there are not so many Indian. An attempt to independently reproduce the American engine did not lead to anything. Most of the avionics, including radar and helmet-mounted cab equipment, is an Israeli development. Two-thirds of Russia’s weapons are air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles.
In this connection, there is a suspicion that quitting the FGFA program is a bluff aimed at getting what you need for little money. The fact is that “slamming the door,” New Delhi said they would monitor the progress of the Russian development of the Su-57. And if the plane turns out to be good, then it will be possible to discuss the issue of its purchase. However, as you know, avaricious pays twice. The conversation about the sale will be completely different than what the Indians now think.
First, the fighter line up at this point. Secondly, the price will be the market price, and not the one expected at the conclusion of the FGFA agreement. Thirdly, there will be no Su-57 production in India. Fourth, there will be no most favored nation treatment for the Indian Air Force.
And finally, in the fifth, which is especially sensitive for India. She risks staying in the region without fifth-generation aircraft. China, India’s regional rival, already has them. What is worse is that China sells these cars to Pakistan’s regional adversary, Pakistan. With whom at the beginning of this year there were air battles. Moreover, not in favor of India.