Defence

UK Offers Sixth-generation Fighter Jet To India Again, Can India Join The Program?

by Pratisht Chaudhry

The executives of BAE Aerospace Company and MOD of Britain can talk with Indian Air Force and Indian MOD for their 6th-Generation fighter jet Tempest and according to sources these talks may happen during the Aero-India show in February 2021 because of the reason that United-Kingdom wants India to join its 6th-Generation fighter jet program and Britain also invited India officially to this program

few years ago and now again, it will be developed along with several countries according to UK but till now the UK have received the support of Italy and Sweden while their rivals like Germany and France have already started to develop FCAS (Future Combat Air System ) which is also a 6th Generation fighter, The Tempest is also planned to be inducted by 2040 and is mainly to remove ageing Eurofighter Typhoon and to improve the air dominance of Britain over Europe .

The main focus of the aircraft is to make it very easy for a pilot to control the aircraft during an engagement also as the 5th Generation Aircraft is mainly about Stealth, the 6th Generation aircraft are mainly about Artificial Intelligence which is the primary focus of Britain in the Tempest fighter jet.

Here is the latest information provided by BAE engineers about Tempest and a brief introduction of technologies to be used in Tempest:-

UNMANNED FLYING AND ARTIFICIAL-INTELLIGENCE: The Tempest aircraft can be flown with a pilot but it will have an option of Unmanned flying, this is very important in case where the pilot have huge risks of life for example during Raids or Strikes along with it the Tempest will also have a technology known as Cooperative Engagement Capability which will help Tempest to share its sensor data and messages with other fighter’s very easily without being jammed by the enemy radars which will enable this aircraft to attack in Coordination with other Fighter , the aircraft will also have a Virtual cockpit and according to latest press release by BAE on Tempest Aircraft the engineers at BAE systems have begun flight testing cutting-edge concepts for Tempest’s ‘wearable cockpit’ technologies , designed to provide the pilot in cockpit or controller on ground getting advantage by every second also concepts like Human Autonomy Teaming (HAT) are also being developed where a virtual co-pilot along with the pilot in cockpit will ease the burden on the main pilot and will be able to control some systems of the aircraft , the psycho-psychological technologies are also developed which include functions like eye-tracking.

SWARM DRONE TECHNOLOGY: The Swarm drones also known as drones of mass destructions is a type of technology when a ‘large number’ of drones are controlled by a single operator, they can be used for various purposes in an aircraft for example they can even block a hypersonic missile coming towards an aircraft and then they can literally confuse an enemy radar if in case the fighter aircraft is somehow detected. The Tempest will have a swarming technology because of which it can control a large number of drone now this can help Tempest in such a way that if it is outnumbered by enemy planes then the Swarm Drones after analysing the situation will tell the pilot that how can he survive the battle by damaging the targets which are most danger to him or even work as a suicide drone which means it can get near crucial enemy assets like Missile Defence System and aircrafts and explode either in them or near them which will provide a huge damage to the enemies assets.

ENGINES, RADAR AND SENSORS: The most interesting part of the Tempest aircraft is its engine because of the reason that Tempest is going to use Adaptive Cycle Engine or Variable Cycle engine which is a next generation engine technology , the main feature of this engine is that they automatically adjust them self to the battle field condition like in super- sonic , sub –sonic and trans-sonic speed, also these are only engines in the world which are less noisy , combines outstanding fuel burn with a great thrust , are small in size and can withstand high temperatures, the engines of the Tempest are developed by Rolls-Royce and according to report’s the Rolls-Royce is exploring advanced composite materials and additive manufacturing as a part of this work also as these are meant to be integrated in Tempest which will have a large number of DEW( Directed Energy Weapons ) and lasers these will need to create a great power in the Tempest also according to a latest claim by BAE the Tempest and Leonardo Engineers, the Radar of Tempest will be capable of providing 10,000 times more data than previous systems also the Sensors according to the BAE will be called ‘Multi-Function Radio Frequency System’ will collect and process of magnificent amount of data in battlefield which the company claims to be equal to the internal traffic of large city like Edinburgh!

ARNAMENTS: The MBDA is the weapon partner of Tempest to provide it weapons and surely it will be armed by Meteor missiles having speed of Mach 4 and range of 100KM also it will have Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) which destroy their target which high energy focus whether using energy in form of Laser, Microwave or particle.

CONCLUSION: The Tempest will be surely a plane to dominate Europe with its technologies and it is a representation of how unity can forge a power as it’s a joint venture between Leonardo, BAE, MBDA and Rolls-Royce.

Britain wants India to join this program because of two major reasons which are:

LACK OF FUNDING: European countries are often seen to not be able to fund an expensive program like this for a long period of time hence they many expect bulk orders from India.

SOFTWARE ENGINEERING: Once Nik Khanna, managing director, BAE, India was asked that if India joins the program then what role would it play he replied that ‘India being a software giant can help to devise a new software for these planes and India can join this program anytime’ also BAE after COVID-19 lockdown have promised to create many jobs and it had told the UK govt. that it will add 25 billion to economy of the country also the BAE has given it a tag of being an ECONOMICAL aircraft.

Will India Join The Program?

Chances are low of India joining the Tempest program because of two major reasons:

Firstly, India by 2034 is expected to derive its AMCA MK-2 which according to many experts and HAL will be a Sixth-Generation fighter jet as according to IAF Chief “The AMCA MK-1 will be a 5.5 Generation fighter jet which will come with Sixth Generation qualities” and as the AMCA MK-1 is planned to be powered by General electric American engines but for AMCA MK-2 an advanced next generation engine is planned for which ROLLS-ROYCE has offered India to develop an engine maybe these engines could be same as those used in Britain’s TEMPEST and Indian AMCA MK-2 jet.

Secondly, India after investing a huge amount of time and money in FGFA (Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft) have realized that when an Aircraft is developed with another country then later it creates problems like in TOT and in overhauling etc.

Hence India’s chances of joining Tempest 6th generation fighter jet is low because of AMCA MK-2 which will be a sixth generation aircraft in 2034 , another good thing done by HAL is that the planning is done much advanced along with strict deadlines ,the importance of advanced planning could be seen in case of Gripen-E fighter jet because when Gripen –D/C were developed so only at that point of time the scope for Gripen -E was planned as a result that it was easier to upgrade Gripen-C/D to E also it made the development of fighter faster while this was not done in case of Tejas as a result the Tejas MK-2 is on the paper.

AMCA MK-2 is in planning stage while the AMCA MK-1 is in development stage here are few specifications of AMCA MK-1 –

The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), and Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) together are developing a 5.5th generation fighter jet named AMCA. The final design of AMCA has been completed and the prototype of AMCA is expected to be ready by 2024 and its flight trials will began from 2025 but learning from the delay of Tejas and also from the success of same TEJAS, the AMCA is planned to be mass-produced and inducted in Indian Air force by 2029. The AMCA will be much advanced than the 5thGeneration fighters of China and maybe even Russia as it shares some same qualities as in F-35 which is the world’s most advanced fighter jet after F-22 and both are from America. The noticeable features of the AMCA are mentioned below:-

RADAR: The radar that will be used in AMCA will be UTTAM AESA RADAR it is radar that is much advanced than other AESA radar it is gallium nitrate-based AESA radar that in simple terms means that in very less power it can track to a significant distance. The range of UTTAM AESA radar is 220 KM

FLIGHT CONTROL SYSTEM: Most of the planes have fly-by-wire flight control system or in easy words, it means that every part of the plane is connected to the cockpit by wire but AMCA will be using the fly- by-optic control system which means that instead of wires optical fibre cables will be used which will improve the response time of a plane and protect aircraft from electromagnetic pulse the fly-by-optic system is quicker and better than the fly-by-wire control system.

COMPUTING SYSTEM: The computing system in the AMCA will also be a next-generation computing system as the aircraft is using a fly-by-optic system which is a very advance control system so to keep a match with it the computing system of AMCA will be made up of four independent computing systems and each system will have an independent power supply because of which the probability of technical failure will decrease and if there is such failure the whole system will not lose power at once.

DIVERTLESS SUPERSONIC INLET SYSTEM: The Divert less supersonic inlet system (DSI) is a type of an air intake system from which the engines of aircraft can receive air and work properly. The DSI for the AMCA has been developed separately and the new design is 300 kilograms lighter than its previous design also the Radar cross-section (RCS) of the AMCA has been further reduced with this new design of DSI.

ENGINES: The engines that will be used in the first batch of AMCA will be American GE-F414 engines these are the same engines used in American built F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets also these are the same engines by which South Korea is developing their 5th generation fighter jet however in the second batch of AMCA the DRDO along with Rolls Royce is developing a truly 5th generation engine for AMCA expected to have thrust between 110-140kN.

STEALTH QUALITIES: The AMCA will not only be structural wise stealth but even the material used in it will make it even stealthier it will be similar material that was used in the Tejas fighter plane this will make AMCA even more advance than the remaining 5th generation fighter jets in the world.

Pratisht Chaudhary is  a 15 year old defence enthusiast who tracks military and aerospace issues closely. Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IDN

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