Roadmap Revealed For The Development Of Medium Combat Aircraft-MCA

The head of India’s Aeronautical Development Agency yesterday
revealed key details of the roadmap for development of the proposed
indigenous medium combat aircraft (MCA) in an interview.
ADA will complete a feasibility study on the MCA by the end of 2011.
The study will be submitted to the Indian government and air force, and
discuss key aspects of the programme, says PS Subramanyam, programme
director at the ADA. 
The study will consider several areas: the number of MCA prototypes,
prototype timelines, funding, and production schedules for the final
aircraft. 
“The MCA will be in flight trials by end of the decade, and it will
be inducted by the middle of the next decade,” says Subramanyam.
Subramanyam also discussed how the MCA will fit into the Indian air
force’s future force structure. It will be a 20t aircraft with a 1,000km
range, fitting between the 10t, 500km range of the Hindustan Aeronautics
Tejas, and the 30t, 1,500km range of the fifth generation fighter
aircraft (FGFA), an Indian variant of the developmental Sukhoi PAK FA. 
Therefore, Subramanyam says, the MCA “does not clash” with the FGFA. He says the MCA will be comparable to the Lockheed Martin F-35, and the FGFA comparable to the F-22 Raptor. 
The MCA will be a single seat fighter. A two seat version will be
developed, but primarily as a trainer. A naval variant is not envisaged,
but Subramanyam foresees a requirement for a 20t aircraft for India’s
future indigenous aircraft carriers. A naval variant of the Tejas was
rolled out in mid-2010. It is likely to have its first flight this year.
In a recent interview with Flight Daily News, IAF Air Chief Marshal
Pradeep Vasant Naik said the MCA will be a medium weight combat aircraft
with low observable features and a payload capability of more than five
tons. It will have swing role capability and “provide greater
flexibility in the application of aerospace power”. 
The ADA has previously said the MCA will have “serpentine-shaped” air
intakes, internal weapons bays, and advanced radomes to increase its
stealth features. Radar-absorbing composites and paints will supplement
the design.
It will be powered by two Kaveri engines optimized for low observable
characteristics. The Kaveri, which has suffered considerable delays, is
still in development, and will eventually replace General Electric
engine in the Tejas.
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