The proposed R&D phase contract is expected to be around $11 billion, with each country contributing half.
Three T-50 prototypes are being evaluated under the PAK FA test and development program, while a fourth aircraft is expected to join the program later this year, according to the Russian defense ministry.
SDB recently started tests of a new onboard radar system. The X-band active phased-array radar was installed on the third prototype of the T-50 and according to the company, it showed a stable and effective performance comparable with the existing advanced radar systems.
The first prototype conducted its first flight in January 2010. The IAF has specified more than 40 improvements to the design following its observation of flying trials.
Although the T-50’s specifications remain classified, reports indicate it features advanced stealth capability, supersonic cruising speed, and integrated control and avionics systems.
However, an IAF official says, “the jointly developed PMF draws upon the basic structural and system design of the Russian FGFA Technology Demonstrator with modifications to meet IAF specifications, which are much more stringent. The broad scope of bilateral cooperation during the joint project covers the design and development of the PMF, its production and joint marketing to [third-party] countries.”
India is planning to develop both the single- and two-seat versions, with the latter to be used for training and special missions. “Program options include the design and development of a twin-seater variant and the integration of an advanced engine with higher thrust at a later stage,” the IAF official says.
“The contract is only the first in a series . . . that will cover different stages of the complex program,” the defense ministry official says. “The total cost, including options and the value of production aircraft, will make this the biggest defense program ever in the history of India involving production of over 200-250 aircraft.”
India will have scientists and test pilots based both in Russia and Ojhar during the R&D phase, and subsequently HAL will begin manufacturing the aircraft, he says.