New Delhi: The initial version of a fighter plane, being jointly developed by India and Russia and tipped to be one of the most-advanced in the world, will be unveiled in India in 2014.
The Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) with stealth features is slated to be inducted in the Indian Air Force by 2022.
The two sides are close to signing a key contract expected to be worth over $11 billion for research and development phase of the project in the near future.
"The first prototype of the FGFA is scheduled to arrive in India by 2014 after which it will undergo extensive trials at the Ojhar air base (Maharashtra)... we are hopeful that the aircraft would be ready for induction by 2022," IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne said.
The IAF Chief was in Russia in the second week of August where he reviewed the progress made in the programme and the prototypes of the aircraft developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau at Zhukovsky there.
The second prototype will arrive in India in 2017 and the third prototype will arrive in 2019. Based on the experience of test-flights of the each prototype, the final version of the FGFA would be developed for operational service, Browne
India plans to acquire 214 of these fighter planes by the end of 2030 at an estimated cost of over $30 billion. Russia has already developed three prototypes of the aircraft which are being used for carrying out test-flights.
The aircraft will have stealth features and its size would be smaller than that of the frontline Su-30 MKI. The design of the aircraft is expected to be finalised by the two sides later this year. The two sides had signed an agreement for the design of the plane last year.
Besides the FGFA, India is also in the process of procuring 126 Medium-Multirole Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA) and around 140 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) to replenish the Air Force whose squadron strength is dwindling.
The IAF is in the process of phasing-out Russian-origin MiG series fighters which are almost forty years old in operational service.
The FGFA along with the Russian-origin Su-30 MKIs and the 126 would be the mainstay of the Air Force in the next more than four decades.