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NEW DELHI — India has postponed the development of the homegrown Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) program, according to sources in the Indian Defence Ministry, because the MoD first wants to complete the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program.
The LCA is behind schedule by more than 15 years and the MoD has spent more than $1 billion in its development. Both the LCA and AMCA are being developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
DRDO spokesman Ravi Gupta said the AMCA project is still at a feasibility stage and is awaiting government approval .
He denied that the project is being abandoned and did not comment when asked if it was postponed.
If the AMCA program is canceled, India might buy additional medium multirole combat aircraft from overseas, an MoD source said. Dassault Aviation of France is the preferred vendor for the 126-jet program.
The AMCA was conceived in 2006 as a twin-engine, stealth/multirole fighter weighing 20 tons and fitted with air-to-air missiles and other precision weapons.
The AMCA development budget is $3 billion, a senior ADA scientist said, under which a prototype would be developed after 2020. By 2035, nearly 200 aircraft are planned to be produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
The Eurofighter consortium and US-based Lockheed Martin have offered to tie up with ADA in the development of the AMCA project. The source said the MoD has not made a final decision on any partnerships with overseas manufacturers. Neither Lockheed Martin nor Eurofighter executives were available for comment.
The AMCA project is an extension of the LCA project, which was conceived in 1983 and is still in the prototype stage. The Indian Air Force has awarded a contract for 40 Mark-1 LCAs expected to be inducted in 2016-’17. Another order of more than 80 Mark-2 LCAs is pending.