06:22 GMT03 March 2021
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    Any new fighter jet procurement deal by Indian Air Force would require the foreign vendor to set up a production line in India – a time taking process. In this backdrop, HAL’s claim that it can immediately start co-producing the FGFA with Russia from existing facility holds immense significance.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — India's state-owned defense aircraft manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has said that it would not take long for the Indo-Russia joint venture to roll out the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) should the Indian government decide to go ahead with the project anytime soon. HAL has said that the existing state-of-the-art production facility in the Indian town of Nasik that is currently being used to assemble and manufacture Indian Air Force's frontline fighter aircraft Su-30MKI can be used to start manufacturing the FGFA so that the aircraft are delivered in a timely manner to the intended buyers.

    "Definitely, it (Nasik plant) can be used for the FGFA. It will need a little bit of augmentation. We will not need major investment," T Suvarna Raju, the chairman and managing director of HAL, told PTI.

    Raju hopes India's Ministry of Defense would soon sanction the project while claiming that the first aircraft would be ready in three years from the date of approval as there would be much in common including structural similarities between the FGFA and the Sukhoi 30MKI jet.

    The Indo-Russia FGFA project was initiated in 2007 when both countries signed an intergovernmental pact. The two sides completed the preliminary design in 2013. India has spent $240 million to date towards the project, which in India is called the "Perspective Multirole Fighter."

    However, delays were caused with New Delhi and Moscow disagreeing over many fundamental aspects of the joint development project, including work and cost share, aircraft technology, as well as the number of aircraft to be ordered.

    "I will not comment on the justification on expenditure on the project. But, as a country, if we are looking for fifth-generation technology and if somebody has offered it to us, then definitely I would like to go for it regardless of the expenditure," Raju said.

    Indian Air Chief BS Dhanoa had said in October this year that the Varthaman committee — A high-powered panel appointed by India's defense ministry to examine different aspects of the multi-billion dollar FGFA project has already submitted its recommendations and that the final go-ahead should come from the government.


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