lancer21 said:With all that iranian mock-up frenzy, a rather more interesting piece of information has been omitted these days , here's the apparently final , or almost final configuration of AMCA.
100 people surveyed. Number one answer's on the board... Name the engine it'll use! ...for this or any of the Turkish/Japanese/Korean Power-Point fighters.lancer21 said:With all that iranian mock-up frenzy, a rather more interesting piece of information has been omitted these days , here's the apparently final , or almost final configuration of AMCA.
2IDSGT said:100 people surveyed. Number one answer's on the board... Name the engine it'll use! ...for this or any of the Turkish/Japanese/Korean Power-Point fighters.
Sundog said:The fuselage doesn't seem too long to me. You want a long fuselage for supersonic flight. However, I think many people "think" it has a long fuselage due to the placement of the vertical tails. They look like they are placed further back than they are on most contemporary fighters.
Maybe they did that for high alpha reasons, but most fighters of similar configuration have the vertical tails located at the gap between the wing and the horizontal tails. Which should work out well for area ruling, but as I noted above, maybe such a placement had an adverse affect on the them at high alpha, like the legacy Hornets. So they moved them back deciding the wave drag penalty wasn't as great as the structural weight penalty required if they were further forward? That's just my best guess atm.
Sundog said:The fuselage doesn't seem too long to me. You want a long fuselage for supersonic flight. However, I think many people "think" it has a long fuselage due to the placement of the vertical tails.
UpForce said:In side view the vertical tails' leading edges seem remarkably upright. Something to be gleaned from that?
The biggest challenge involves the development of Radar Absorbent Material (RAM).
He alluded to New Delhi’s challenges in the area of radar cross section (RCS) reduction in comments about the collapse of the 2012 deal to buy 126 Dassault Rafale fighters.
There were several issues that caused the Rafale deal to collapse, he says, but he specifically pointed to France’s unwillingness to part with a proprietary RAM that is applied to the Rafale’s canopy. Had the deal moved forward, Rafales completed in India would have been sent to France to receive the coating.
As your correspondent reports, the first 1:1 full scale model of India’s fifth generation concept Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is being built in Bengaluru. Later this year, the model will undergo a series of rigorous tests at an RCS facility in Hyderabad, where the programme team will have its fest chance at seeing how the shape they’ve chosen for the jet deals with radiation. The exercise will be historic. Because it will be the first time India will be specifically testing a stealth airframe.
Cmde C.D. Balaji, chief at the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) met with Livefist at the Aero India show for a chat on the programme. ‘This will be our first big learning process. We need to be sure about the conformal antennas and shapes before we finalise the airframe,’ he says. Another very crucial application the team plans to bring into play is computational electromagnetics, to simulate in parallel how the concept jet deals with radar and other assaults built to beat stealth.
‘About 60-70% of the stealth we intend will come from the aircraft’s shape. The rest we are discovering as we develop the aircraft. Nothing like this has ever been attempted before,’ Balaji says. An AMCA model debuted at Aero India 2009, the first time anyone got a sense of what the ADA was looking to build.
The team at ADA expects full-scale engineering development till the prototype stage to take at least a decade. Livefist also learnt that the team now has a specific timeframe for a first flight: 2030, with low-rate production to begin in 2035. ‘If you consider that the LCA Mk.1 will be built till 2024 and the LCA Mk.2, when ordered, should be built between 2030-35, then 2035 is good target for production of the AMCA,’ Balaji says.
The AMCA project could find additional backing and strength owing to persistent problems India faces from Russia over the T-50 FGFA programme. On Tuesday, Defence Minister Parrikar even admitted that there were problems that needed sorting. Earlier this year, the government took the surprising step of setting up a committee to go over the FGFA programme and actually see if India benefits at all. Negotiations have meandered over work share and how qualitatively India will even contribute to the programme other than be its largest operator. Sources on the AMCA team wouldn’t commit, but wouldn’t deny that trouble with the FGFA programme only placed greater (and welcome) pressure on the indigenous effort to deliver on time and cost — and capability.
Take a moment to look at the image above. Savour it. This was one among hundreds of posters plastered everywhere at the recently concluded Aero India show. And yet, in it lies what is possibly the most meaningful indicators from India’s indigenous efforts in military aviation. We’ll get to the specifics in a bit. First, some background.
A few days ago, Livefist’s big update on India’s fifth generation AMCA programme brought the spotlight back on the concept fighter, amidst reports of trouble in Indo-Russian talks to resolve the stalemate plaguing the proposed joint Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). On the latter front, things have reached a stage where some abrupt and spectacular suggestions have been made by Rostec, the Russian state holding company, including that the FGFA has nothing to do with the under-flight-test T-50/PAK FA (will be a totally separate fighter), and that Russia will be partnering with India on the AMCA. To be sure, there are several tech partnership suitors for the AMCA, and Russia happens for the moment to be only one of them.
Livefist’s update on the AMCA drew a huge amount of interest (and readership), unsurprising given it is one of two most ambitious active aviation efforts in the country — the other being the related Ghatak stealth UCAV. But while we were looking through the huge number of images we captured at the just concluded Aero India 2017 show, we chanced upon the above slide that we found tucked away in a corner of the small Defence Avionice Research Establishment (DARE) stall in the DRDO pavilion.
While we’ve reported extensively on the AMCA’s intended stealth characteristics, including serpentine intakes and internal weapons bays, the slide you see here is, in Livefist’s view, the most significant and revealing set of details on the deep research being done in what is by far the most challenging part of the AMCA’s design: active phased array technology. This comprises the spread of separate sensor elements embedded across the AMCA’s airframe in a way that consolidates overall stealth and lowers all aspects of the aircraft’s final signature, while making use of that very spread to provide a heightened degree of sensor coverage and domain awareness to the pilot. (Think of the spread like a dashboard camera that’s actually a network of cameras situated all around the car, providing the driver with a wide sweep view of what’s happening around the vehicle).
Antenna elements as part of the phased array spread will come up for their first torture test with the full scale AMCA mock-up soon in Hyderabad. And getting it right is non-negotiable, especially since this is technology no company or country will conceivably share.
The 16 element linear and 32 element planar array will either segue smoothly into the functionality of stealth or stick out sorely and make the AMCA significantly more visible across electromagnetic spectra. In other words, it isn’t just how well these little elements work separately, but how they work together — and above all, how well they are housed in the body of the aircraft so they don’t interfere with stealth.
‘Make of break technology’ in the words of a DARE scientist who spoke on condition of anonymity to Livefist. Antenna architecture, overall computational electrodynamics and the true integration of these elements with an airframe design that’s still in flux means there’s huge pressure to get it right. Indeed, this is research that could have spin-offs for the LCA Mk.2 programme as well.
While the AMCA is still in a design stage and awaiting sanction as a full-blown project, the slide you see here is affirmation that the most significant elements that will potentially make the AMCA a true fifth generation machine are deep in the works. This is research that will imbue the performance of India’s Ghatak UCAV too, considering the large amount of basic technological R&D feeding jointly into both programmes (as Livefist reported to you earlier, the AMCA and Ghatak are actually a joint lead-in project).
Tech partnerships on the AMCA will likely involve offsets-driven sensor packages and broad consultancies in the post-design phase, including flight test and airborne empirical studies new to India since this will be the country’s first stealth aircraft built at home. What those partnerships won’t include are the driving forces that compel the very stealth that the AMCA hopes to sport. The road ahead is a very long, hard one. But the slide above also establishes that there’s clarity of approach in at least the most crucial aspects of India’s most ambitious military aviation venture.
As Boeing Defense revives its campaign for the F/A-18 Super Hornet in India, a slide in its presentation today on the pitch stands out significant and adds telling detail to an aspect of the effort that has remained relatively unknown — how India’s proposed Make In India Fighter programme ties in with the country’s concept fifth generation development AMCA platform. We now know that Boeing has a very specific plan, with three major thrusts:
First, as the slide most visibly suggests, Boeing proposes that the manufacturing facility and supply eco-system that it builds up for the F/A-18 in India in the event it is chosen, could be used to produce the AMCA. The existing facility could be leveraged, precluding the need for a greenfield setup elsewhere.
Second, also mentioned specifically in the slide is the GE 414 enhanced engine pitch. Significant. Boeing here is proposing engine commonality from the get-go to support the prospective selection of the Super Hornet platform. Both Boeing and GE are in ‘multiple stakeholder discussions’ with the DRDO, Indian Air Force (and, presumably the MoD) on this aspect, said Boeing India President Pratyush Kumar during a presentation by Dan Gillian, Boeing’s VP on the F/A-18 programme headquartered at St Louis (Livefist is in the United States at the invitation of Boeing Defense). The enhanced GE 414 would be a feature on the Advanced Super Hornet proposed as part of the Make In India pitch. How this ties in with India’s own engine development efforts and opportunities remains unclear. The indigenisation thrust need to ensure the Kaveri effort hasn’t gone to waste — the AMCA could potentially be India’s last indigenous manned fighter project for the next three-four decades.
Finally, there is the suggestion that Boeing could be available to help along the AMCA programme directly as a partner or consultant in such a way that it makes the Block 2 Super Hornet -> Advanced Super Hornet -> AMCA flow more seamlessly from a development-to-manufacturing perspective.
This is an aggressive pitch that amplifies the sort of deep dive that competitors for the MIIF deal could be willing to put on the table. It also has several implications on the dynamics of partnerships and indigenous development from the ground up for a programme that will be infinitely more complex than not just a flyaway deal — but also the aborted M-MRCA.