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Vineet Ravindran asked: Is there a scope of India developing a 6th generation fighter aircraft in the future, considering that the US and Europe have already started working on it?

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  • Kishore Kumar Khera replies: The rate at which the character of war is transforming and technology evolving, manned combat aircraft, as we know them, may lose their relevance. Much of the kinetic force application in future may be based on unmanned systems and high speed long range weapons launched from arsenal aircraft. The world combat aircraft inventory has already decreased by over 57 per cent in the last three decades and the same trend is expected to continue. The world over, development of 6th generation fighter aircraft will depend on its envisaged role and resource requirement for its development. Although the United Kingdom’s Project Tempest is the first off the blocks in a race to create a 6th generation combat aircraft, it is not expected to be operational till 2040.

    Of course, India will develop a 6th generation fighter aircraft in future, if the requirement is felt. India has just managed to operationalise the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and development work is on for its more potent version. Thereafter, plans are underway for a fifth generation aircraft. Once that capability is mastered, India will look at the 6th generation aircraft.

    For more details, please refer to the following MP-IDSA publication:

    Kishore Kumar Khera, Combat Aviation: Flight Path 1968-2018,KW Publishers, New Delhi, 2020.

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manohar Parrikar IDSA or the Government of India.

    Posted on August 19, 2020

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