HAL AMCA

The Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is an Indian programme to develop a fifth-generation fighter aircraft for theIndian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Navy .[4] The design of the aircraft is carried out by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), an aircraft design and development agency constituted under Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).[5] It is expected to be produced by a public-private joint venture between the DRDO, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), and an Indian private company.[6] The programme has an aim to start production by 2028.[7]

Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft
Role Stealth multirole fighter
National origin India
Manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited
Design group Aeronautical Development Agency
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited
Defence Research and Development Organisation
First flight 2025(expected)[1][2]
Status Detailed data-generation phase[3]
(Prototype development)
Primary users Indian Air Force (intended)
Indian Navy (intended)

AMCA will be a single-seat, twin-engine, stealth all-weather Swing-role fighter aircraft, expected to have “sixth generation characteristics”.[8][9] The AMCA which is intended to perform a multitude of missions including air superiority, ground-strike, Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) and electronic warfare (EW) missions would be a potent replacement for the Sukhoi Su-30MKI air superiority fighter, which forms the backbone of the IAF fighter fleet.[10][11] The AMCA design is optimised for low radar cross section and supercruise capability.[12] Feasibility study on AMCA and the preliminary design stage have been completed, and the project entered the detailed design phase in February 2019.[13] A CAD model of the aircraft was shown at Aero India 2019. The first flight is expected to be by 2025 and serial production might begin by 2030.[14] The AMCA is currently the only fifth generation fighter under development in India, expected to get Ministry of Defence approval in second quarter of 2021.[15] The aircraft, along with its naval variant, is intended to provide the bulk of the manned tactical airpower of the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy over the coming decades. AMCA would be the third supersonic jet of Indian origin after the HAL Marut and HAL Tejas.

DevelopmentEdit

AMCA ProgramEdit

 
Earlier 3B-01 wind tunnel model of AMCA

The AMCA programme, earlier known as Medium Combat Aircraft (MCA) programme, was initiated to develop a twin engine fighter which incorporates stealth features to replace the main strike fighters of IAF viz Mirage 2000 and SEPECAT Jaguar.[16] In 2010, the MCA programme was rechristened as Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) programme and a detailed feasibility study was launched by ADA.[17][18] Although MCA was envisioned as a 15-tonne class fighter, the IAF's Air Staff requirements (ASR) for the AMCA, issued in April 2010 placed the now rechristened aircraft in the 25-tonne category.[19][20][21][22] In October 2010, the Government of India allocated ₹100 crore to prepare feasibility studies in 18 months.[23] In 2013, a review committee was formed, which on the feasibility study report recommended initiating the next phase of the programme.[24]

The Project Definition and Preliminary Design phase of AMCA began in 2013.[25] From November 2013 to December 2014, 9 configurations of AMCA, starting from 3B-01 to 3B-09, were studied using CAD, low speed - high speed wind tunnel testing and radar cross section (RCS) testing and eventually by the end of 2014, configuration 3B-09 was chosen.[26] In 2015, basic design configuration of AMCA was finalized and a detailed AMCA programme report was submitted to the IAF, which after review gave concurrence to the programme.[27][28] The AMCA design after considerable refinements, has been accepted by IAF in 2016.[29] The Project definition phase was completed by 2017.[30][31] On 4 April 2018, Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a written reply to the Lok Sabha confirmed that the feasibility study for the AMCA programme has been completed and the programme would be completed in two phases viz, technology demonstration phase and full scale engineering development phase.[32] The Detailed Design Phase of AMCA has commenced in 2018, as part of the phase, a full scale model of AMCA will be developed for testing stealth features.[13][33] The ADA is expecting to get government approval for the AMCA programme by the second quarter of 2021.[34] The first prototype of AMCA is expected to be rolled out by 2024.[35][36]

The current plan is to procure 6 squadrons of AMCA, first two squadrons in Mark 1, equipped with an imported engine and the remaining four squadrons in Mark 2, equipped with an uprated indigenous engine.[37] The Mark 2 of AMCA would also incorporate sixth generation features and technologies to stay relevant in the coming decades.[38]

In 2015, 700 ADA employees were working on the project along with 2,000 employees of DRDO and 1,000 employees of HAL supported by over 500 employees of subcontractors of both Indian and foreign firms.

Work on various technologies was carried out by multiple establishments of DRDO, ADA and HAL which included stealth, engine, three-dimensional thrust vectoring, AESA radar, internal weapons bay, serpentine air intakes and all other major avionics.[39][40] According to Deputy Air Marshall Sinha "To provide adequate time to Indian industries to develop required capabilities, the armed forces will soon come out with a list of technologies of interest... underlining that these efforts are expected to synergise indigenous development of advanced aerospace systems."[41] In 2015, as part of the Indian MRCA competition, Saab AB made an offer for participating in the AMCA programme.[42]

DesignEdit

OverviewEdit

The AMCA is a twin-engine, stealth supersonic swing-role fighter designed for the IAF.[43] At present, the AMCA is planned as a fifth generaton fighter, but there is a strong hint that AMCA would integrate emerging, best of breed sixth generation technologies over time to stay in the loop.[44] The AMCA would be the first fifth generaton fighter to enter service with the Indian Air Force.[45][46]

The AMCA is designed with shoulder mounted diamond shaped trapezoidal wings, a profile with substantial area-ruling to reduce drag at transonic speeds, and an all-moving Canard-Vertical V-tail with large fuselage mounted Tail-wing.[20] Flight control surfaces include leading and trailing-edge flaps, ailerons, rudders on the canted vertical stabilizers, and all-moving tailplanes; these surfaces also serve as Air brakes. The cockpit features a single seat configuration which is placed high, near the air intakes and wings of the aircraft to provide good visibility to the pilot with a single bubble canopy construction.[20] A leading-edge root extension (LERX), which is a small fillet, is situated on the front section of the intake and wings of the aircraft. It has a typically roughly rectangular shape, running forward from the leading edge of the wing root to a point along the fuselage.[20] The aircraft features a tricycle landing gear configuration. The weapons bay is placed on the underside of the fuselage between the nose and main landing gear. The AMCA is designed to produce a very small radar cross-section, to accomplish this it features serpentine shaped air-intakes to reduce radar exposure to the fan blade which increases stealth, uses an internal weapons bay and features the use of composites and other materials.[20] The flight control surfaces are controlled by a central management computer system. The AMCA will have some sixth generation characteristics such as an optionally manned, directed energy weapons, capable of controlling UCAVs and swarm drones.[47][48][49]

Stealth and radar signatureEdit

The AMCA design has inherent radar stealth, achieved through platform edge alignment and serration, body conformal antenna and low intercept radar, Diverterless supersonic inlet (DSI) with serpentine ducts which conceal engine fan blades, internal weapons bay and extensive use of composites in airframe.[50]

Sensors and avionicsEdit

The AMCA is expected to have distributed passive sensors with Artificial intelligence (AI) assisted multi-sensor data fusion to increase situational awareness and to work in tandem with the advanced electronic warfare (EW) suite onboard AMCA.[51][52] The AMCA has a distributed processing system employing fast processors and smart subsystems.[53] The AMCA will also have an integrated vehicle health monitoring system which works on sensor fusion.[54]

AMCA would be equipped with a larger and powerful variant of the Uttam AESA Radar mounted on a mechanically steerable mount.[20] An onboard condition monitoring system is planned to be included in the AMCA.[55]

CockpitEdit

The AMCA will have a glass cockpit equipped with a wide panoramic touchscreen display for enhanced man-machine interaction, a multi function display (MFD) placed in portrait orientation and a wide-angle holographic head-up display HUD. The AMCA will have hands-on throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) arrangement with right hand on stick and left hand on throttle settings to ease the pilot workload.[56][57]

PropulsionEdit

The AMCA is to be powered by two afterburning turbofan engines mounted side-by-side in the fuselage, fed by Diverterless supersonic inlets (DSI). The initial plan was to equip an uprated Kaveri engine developed for Tejas, but Kaveri engine programme was shelved due to suboptimal performance.[58] The initial batch of AMCA would be powered by GE F414 afterburning turbofan engines procured off the shelf while, later batch of AMCA would be powered by either indigenous or joint venture (JV) engine of 110 kN thrust.[59][60] In 2015, ADA held a series of discussions with foreign engine manufacturers exploring the possibility of joint venture.[61][62] As of 2021, DRDO and Rolls Royce are developing a new 110 kN thrust class engine.[63][64][65] The program might be fully funded by India and India will have the IP rights of the engine.[66]

ArmamentEdit

The AMCA features an internal weapons bay for carrying missiles and standoff precision guided munitions in stealthy configuration, while also has provision for external hardpoints for carrying ordinance externally for non-stealthy missions.[67][68] Directed energy weapons are also planned to be equipped on the AMCA.[69]

Projected specificationsEdit

AMCA Mark I

Data from Jane's All the World's Aircraft[70]

General characteristics

  • Crew: One pilot
  • Length: 18 m (59 ft 1 in)
  • Height: 4.8 m (15 ft 9 in)
  • Wing area: 39.9 m2 (429 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 11,000 kg (24,251 lb) (estimated)
  • Gross weight: 18,000 kg (39,683 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 25,000[71] kg (55,116 lb) (estimated)
  • Fuel capacity: 6,500kg
  • Powerplant: 2 × Modified GE F414 (initial production)[72] afterburning turbofan
  • Powerplant: 2 × Undecided[73] afterburning turbofan

Performance

  • Maximum speed: Mach 2.15+
    • Supercruise: Mach 1.82 (planned)
  • Range: 3,240 km (2,010 mi, 1,750 nmi)
  • Combat range: 1,620 km (1,010 mi, 870 nmi)
  • Ferry range: 5,324 km (3,308 mi, 2,875 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 20,000 m (65,000 ft)

Armament

Avionics

See alsoEdit

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists

ReferencesEdit

NotesEdit

ReferencesEdit

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