India has been scouting for a fifth-generation warplane with advanced stealth features for years. Sputnik India analyses why the Russian Su-57 could be a good acquisition for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The Russian Su-57 fighter jet is a potential option for India's fifth-generation fighter jet needs. The Su-57 could address India's immediate needs, and it could also provide long-term benefits.

These benefits include:

Technological knowledge transfer
Enhanced air defence integration
Proven technology
Advanced features

The Su-57 is a twin-seater fighter jet. It has a subsonic range of 2,200 miles, a supersonic range of 930 miles, and a service ceiling of 66,000 feet. It can track 30 targets and engage 8 simultaneously.

The procurement of the twin-seater Russian-manufactured Su-57 fighter jet would be logical for India considering that the development of the homegrown fifth-generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) would take at least 15 years, an IAF veteran has said.

The comments of military pundit Vijainder K Thakur come at a time when defence publications in India have speculated that the IAF could be relooking at the stealth aircraft following a lethal surge in its capabilities.

Interestingly, India was part of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) which the Eurasian sovereign state and the South Asian country were jointly developing under a deal inked in 2007.

Under the terms of the contract, Indian aviation major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Russia's Sukhoi Design Bureau would co-develop an advanced version of the Su-57 warplane having modern stealth characteristics. However, New Delhi pulled out of the program in 2018.

Sizing Up The Su-57's State-of-the-Art Features

Notably, the Su-57 is the first combat jet designed and produced by Russia since the Cold War ended in 1991.

The Sukhoi-built fighter is widely believed to carry the most modern radio-electronic warfare machinery, including a computer that serves as its second pilot.

Additionally, the Su-57's body is made of various composite materials, making it lighter to function in the skies and conduct all kinds of operations against the enemy, including demolition of naval and on-ground targets.

Moreover, the Indian Air Force's squadron strength is fast depleting. The IAF has publicly stated that 42 squadrons are required to deal with the joint threat from Pakistan and China.

But as per current estimates, the IAF is operating with 31 squadrons in its fleet of aircraft comprising France-made Rafales, Russia's MiG-29s, and Su-30MKI, amongst others.

Maiden Flight of India's AMCA Fighter Still 15 Years Away

Against this backdrop, Thakur noted that the AMCA program will likely take another 15 years based on the first flight to operational induction timelines of fighters such as the TEJAS, and the Su-57.

"Keep in mind, AMCA is nowhere near its first flight as yet, so it could well be longer," the former IAF pilot told Sputnik India.

According to him, the Indian Air Force would be compromising its operational abilities by not inducting a stealth fighter for yet another 15 to 20 years.

"Since India, at the time of withdrawing from the FGFA, kept its option open to buy the Su-57 it would be logical for India to procure the dual seat variant now under development in Russia," Thakur mentioned.

What Could Influence India's Decision To Acquire Su-57?

On being asked if the billions of Indian rupees lying with Russia that Moscow has generated through exports of crude to New Delhi could play a role in India's decision to acquire the Su-57 fighter planes, he pointed out that India was resolving its trade imbalance issues with Russia on a different track - by stepping up export of ships and other manufactured goods.

He opined that more than the trade imbalance, the threat of CAATSA sanctions will influence India's decision or the timing of the decision.