AMCA & LCA vs KF-21 : The American industry behemoth Lockheed Martin is supporting KAI’s KF-21 development and contributing a number of design consulting services. The staggering list of imported systems, along with numerous industrial grade tools and consultancy to rely on for technical developments, includes everything from brake pads to flight controls systems, LRUs, landing gear, avionics, canopies, oxygen generators, radar, engines, ejection seats, and even the aircraft’s software management system.
The KF-21 Block 3 fighter jet, which is expected to be a full stealth fighter type by 2035 will only be a 4.5 generation fighter jet with parts of the 5th generation fighter, which is still being developed, according to South Korea. However, the reality remains that 20 of the 24 core subsystems were developed in the US, while one was developed in Israel.
When compared to India’s Tejas Mk1 programme, Indigenous content of the Mk1 is 59.7% by value and 75.5 percent by number; Indigenous content of the Mk2 will have more than 70% by value with the engine making up for 30 percent; however, when it enters production, it may cross 85 percent by number. Only the ejection seats and engines will be of foreign manufacture; interestingly, these components will be replaced with Indian-made ones once they are in use, further promoting indigenous content.
The AMCA programme for India is a completely new game in which the development of next-generation technology is much more intense than for other programmes. However, it will also see many systems and subsystems that may be world firsts, and with each fighter jet programme Indian scientist and engineers are growing in confidence that they will be able to have import-free fighter jet systems in the newer jet and raise Indigenous content.