India and Russia are soon likely to sign a contract worth more than $11 billion for the research and development phase of the T-50 fifth-generation fighter aircraft.
The first prototype of the jet is scheduled to arrive in India by 2014, after which it will undergo extensive trials at the Ojhar Air Base in the western state of Maharashtra.
The second prototype is expected to arrive in 2017 and a third in 2019.
“We are hopeful that the aircraft would be ready for induction by 2022,” said the Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne, according to a PTI news agency report. He visited Russia in early August.
The aircraft, to be jointly developed by India’s state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and Sukhoi Design Bureau of Russia, is currently referred to as the Perspective Multi-Role Fighter (PMF), and will be based on Russia’s PAK FA program.
India plans to buy more than 200 of the fighters at an estimated cost of $30 billion by 2030. They will replace MiG-29s and Su-30MKI Flanker-Hs being flown by the IAF.
“India, presently, has stated its intention for around 250 fighter jets. The order is scheduled to be complete by 2030. According to estimates, each aircraft could eventually cost over $100 million,” a Defense Ministry official says.
The aircraft’s design is expected to be finalized by India and Russia later this year.
“A preliminary Design (PD) contract was signed between HAL and Russia’s Rosoboronexport on December 21, 2010, for implementation of design and development of the PMF aircraft program by HAL jointly with SDB at a cost of $295 million,” the official said.
“The duration of the PD phase is 18 months. Full-scale design and development work will be taken up under a separate contract, which will be negotiated and signed toward the end of the PD phase.”
The proposed R&D phase contract is expected to be around $11 billion, with each country contributing half.