By Staff Correspondent
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has taken a significant step by approaching the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for approval of its ambitious twin-engine advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA) program. This move comes after the design of the fifth-generation stealth fighter has been finalised by the Aeronautical Development Authority (ADA), showcasing DRDO’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of defense technology and innovation. The first prototype of the AMCA, powered by GE-414 engines, is projected to roll out by 2026.
DRDO, known for its cutting-edge research and development efforts, has been diligently working on the Tejas Mark I program. While the Tejas Mark I, equipped with GE-404 engine, boasts a range of 3000 km as per DRDO’s claims, it faced some challenges during its international debut at the Abu Dhabi airbase in February, as it was conspicuously absent from bilateral exercises in the UK and Australia. “The aircraft is indeed capable and can undertake long-range journeys through refueling. However, the decision on which aircraft to send for international exercises rests with the Indian Air Force,” elucidated a senior official from DRDO.
The Narendra Modi government is fully committed to the success of the Tejas program, but it also recognises the pressing need to hold DRDO accountable for the timely development of fighter aircraft. With the Chinese air force rapidly expanding its capabilities, including armed drones, time is of the essence for the Indian Air Force (IAF). Failure to adhere to timelines could result in the IAF facing a shortage of squadrons in the next decade, compelling the government to make emergency acquisitions to uphold its air capabilities.
To tackle these challenges, the Modi government is adopting a multi-pronged approach. Along with the AMCA program, it is actively pursuing engine design, development, and joint production with France, and exploring the possibility of manufacturing Rafale fighters in India for export to third countries. Furthermore, the US has extended an offer to shift its F-18 production line to India, along with an offer to acquire F-15 EX fighters.
The evolving geopolitical landscape, with the changing dynamics between Russia and China, and the ongoing tensions over Ukraine and Taiwan, demands that India’s national institutions work in synergy towards national interest, prioritising it over self-preservation. DRDO’s pursuit of the AMCA program, along with other strategic partnerships and acquisitions, underscores India’s unwavering commitment to maintaining a leading edge in the global defence arena and safeguarding its national security in an ever-changing world. As the IAF looks ahead to the future, the success of the AMCA program will play a pivotal role in shaping India’s defense capabilities for years to come.