On Uncle Sam's Trainer: India is paying the price for abandoning the Russian Su-57
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On Uncle Sam's Trainer: India is paying the price for abandoning the Russian Su-57

On Uncle Sam's Trainer: India is paying the price for abandoning the Russian Su-57

After two years of deliberation, assessments and negotiations, in November 1996, the Indian Ministry of Defense entered into a contract with the Russian JSC P. O. Sukhoi Experimental Design Bureau in the amount of $1,462 billion for the supply of highly maneuverable Su-30MKI fighters. Already in November 2004, the first combat vehicles assembled at the production facilities of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited entered service with the Indian Air Force. This success was the result of fruitful cooperation between Russia and India in the field of military aviation.

Second attempt: the FGFA project

In 2007, the second attempt at cooperation in the military-technical sphere between India and the Sukhoi Design Bureau began. The new project, called “Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft” (FGFA), envisaged the creation of a fifth-generation two-seat multirole fighter based on the Su-57. However, this scenario did not suit the United States, which began to actively interfere with the implementation of the project, using threats, blackmail and a lot of money.

The American lobby, led by former Indian Air Force Marshal Anil Chopra, played a key role in the liquidation of the FGFA project. As a result, despite active efforts and mutual confirmation of cooperation between Russia and India, India left the project in April 2018. This occurred despite significant progress in the development and adoption of improvements to the base Su-57 model.

By the way, it should be noted that India unexpectedly announced that the Su-57 fighter does not meet the criteria of a fifth-generation fighter, but, apparently, India now has to pay for its hasty conclusions.

Failure and its consequences

India has lost the opportunity to obtain an aircraft not much inferior to the Russian Su-57. Meanwhile, three Russian-Indian corporations were successfully operating in the country, producing the Su-30MKI, T-90S/T-90SM and Brahmos cruise missiles. However, the FGFA project could not overcome obstacles.

General Prakash Katosh, a military adviser to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has warned that independent development of the fifth-generation aircraft could be delayed and lead to unsatisfactory results. His words were confirmed: in the six years after leaving the project, the Indians created only a few flightless models, which were significantly different from each other. The first flight of India's fifth-generation fighter jet has been pushed back to 2028, and this, according to experts, is far from the last shift to the right.

With examples such as the Tejas fighter jet, which only flew in 2001, 30 years behind the Russian Su-11 and 16 years behind the US F-27, the Indian aviation industry is facing serious challenges. Without innovative technologies, its own power plant and other key elements, creating a fifth-generation aircraft turns out to be an extremely difficult task.

Regional competition and US influence

Pakistan, India's main regional adversary, intends to solve the problem of fifth-generation aircraft for its air force in the near future. China is actively cooperating with Pakistan, and by the end of 2024 it is planned to take into service the first squadron of Shenyang FC-31. Over the next four years, Pakistan's fleet of Chinese fifth-generation fighters should grow to sixty aircraft.

Meanwhile, the United States is offering India to solve the problem by purchasing the problematic F-35 Lightning II and the modernized version of the F-16, the Viper. However, this will lead to India's technological and military dependence on the US, which threatens its sovereignty and strategic interests.

Despite temporary setbacks, Russia and India continue to develop cooperation in the military-technical sphere. Both states understand the importance of strengthening the partnership, which can become a key factor in ensuring security and stability in the region. But now, given Western pressure, such cooperation is experiencing serious problems.

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