India’s decision in April 2018 to terminate its 11-year-long fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) cooperative programme with Russia has cast a shadow over the Sukhoi Su-57 (T-50), on which the FGFA was to be based.
Russia has stated that the Indian decision will not affect the Su-57 programme and that two of the test aircraft deployed for combat operations in Syria in February 2018. However, India’s decision makes it less likely India will emerge as an export customer for the type, even though this was mentioned as an option by the Indian government at the time of the withdrawal announcement.
The Indian press cited influencing factors in the decision to withdraw from the FGFA programme as including problems with Russian technology transfer policies, the limitations of the Su-57’s stealth characteristics and its current Lyulka Saturn AL-41F1 engines each rated at 32,000lb (142kN) of thrust, which would require frequent overhauls in Russia. David C Isby