In a crucial step from design to reality, aerospace company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) announced in March 2022 it was starting the manufacturing process for India’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA)

Defence PSU Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) will be working along with Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) on the development of critical subsystems for the fifth generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) program reported the Indian Express.

AMCA is the indigenous fifth generation fighter and the specifications are in line with the Fifth Generation aircraft technology with features like stealth, internal weapons, super cruise, serpentine air intake etc. It will lead to a quantum jump in technological capabilities of India.

The AMCA aims to equip the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy with a 5.5 generation twin-engine stealth fighter, replacing India’s aging SEPECAT Jaguar and Dassault Mirage 2000 fighters, and complementing its license-built Sukhoi Su-30MKI jets.

The Indian Air Force is said to have committed 40 AMCA MK-1 fighters and at least 100 Mk-2 derivatives, as well as some unmanned variants. The AMCA would be stealthy and have 'super cruise' capabilities. With AMCA, India will enter the exclusive club of countries with fifth-generation stealth warplane technologies.

The AMCA is a stealth supersonic multi-role fighter with twin engines built for the IAF. The AMCA is currently envisioned as a fifth-generation fighter, but it will eventually include emerging, best-of-breed sixth-generation technologies. The AMCA would be the Indian Air Force’s first fifth-generation fighter to enter service.

It is designed to be a multirole fighter capable of air dominance, ground strikes, enemy air defence suppression and electronic warfare tasks. It is designed to perform deep strikes into enemy territory to destroy air defences and critical targets.

Other advanced technologies that are planned on the aircraft include supercruise, diverter-less supersonic intakes, advanced avionics and artificial intelligence.

The aircraft is envisioned to have a combat weight of 20 tons in baseline stealth configuration and will be capable of carrying 1.5 tons of ordnance in its internal weapons bays.

In non-stealth configuration, the AMCA will carry a 23-millimeter cannon and an extra five tons of fuel and weapons on 14 external hardpoints, but these would inevitably increase the aircraft’s radar cross-section.

The AMCA will also feature three-dimensional thrust vectoring and the domestically made UTTAM active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

The first two squadrons of the AMCA MK-1 configuration are planned to be powered by a pair of General Electric F414-INS6 turbofan engines, each with thrust ratings of 98 kilonewtons.

However, supercruise cannot be achieved until 110 kN-class engines can be developed. Another five squadrons in the more advanced Mark 2 configuration are expected to be powered by an indigenously-produced 125 KN engine co-produced by DRDO and French jet engine maker Safran.

It is designed to have a top speed of 2,600 kilometers per hour (Mach 2.15) and a combat range of 1,620 kilometers.

While HAL and India’s Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) oversee designing the AMCA, India also plans to involve the private sector to reduce development and production costs.

The ADA has been working on the AMCA since 2009, with the first prototype to be completed by 2024, and its maiden flight planned for 2025.

Let’s have a look at the aircraft’s size and performance.

The AMCA is 57.9 feet long
The AMCA has a 36.6-foot wingspan
The AMCA is 14.9 feet tall
The AMCA has an empty weight of 12,000 kg
The AMCA has a gross weight of 18,000 kg
The AMCA has a fuel capacity of 6,500 kg
The AMCA is propelled by two modified GE or Safran engines that will be installed in aircraft
The AMCA has a top speed of 2,633 km/h
The AMCA has a range of 3,240 kilometres
The AMCA has a combat range of up to 1,620 kilometres
The AMCA can carry a wide range of weapons

The 14 hard points with a capacity of roughly 9 tons and a single 23mm cannon. It carries S8 rocket pods, Astra mark 1, 2, 3, and NG CCM air-to-air missiles, and Brahmos NG, Sant, and Rudram air-to-ground missiles.

It carries laser guided bombs, NG LGB, precision guided munitions, HSLD, DRDO SAAW, and DRDO glide bombs, among others.