India, Russia set to start work on fifth generation fighter

December 10th, 2008 - 5:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Dec 10 (RIA Novosti) Russia would soon sign a contract with India to jointly develop and produce a fifth-generation combat jet from next year, the director general of Russian aircraft maker Sukhoi said here Wednesday. “We plan to begin flight tests (of the fighter) as early as in 2009,” Mikhail Pogosyan told reporters.

The Russian-Indian advanced multi-role fighter is being developed by Sukhoi, which is part of Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), along with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), under a inter-governmental agreement signed in Oct 2007.

Russia and India will simultaneously develop two versions of the combat aircraft - a two-seat version to meet the requirements of India’s air superiority policy, and a single-seat version for the Russian Air Force.

Pogosyan is in Beijing as part of a delegation accompanying Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, who is leading the Russian side at the 13th Russian-Chinese Commission on Military and Technical Cooperation.

Pgosyan told reporters that Russia and China are also set to boost cooperation in combat aircraft production.

“China is one of the main customers for our (Russian) aircraft and today the Chinese Air Force has in service over 200 of our Su-27 Flanker and Su-30 Flanker-C jet fighters,” he said.

The commission is set to discuss further cooperation in aircraft production and particularly the licensed production of Su-27 and Su-30 planes in China.

China has acquired 76 Su-27SK fighters from Russia since 1992, and bought a license for production of another 200 planes in 1995, in a deal worth $2.5 billion.

However, the 1995 agreement did not include the transfer of avionics and AL-31F turbofan engine technology, and the Chinese manufacturers had to rely on the Russian supply of these systems.

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