The Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft is in it's advanced stage of development. Calibration of many important things has been done and airframe design being finalised. Stealth aspects have been tested. All thanks to the infrastructure developed for LCA.
Now the time has come that IAF needs to take some tough decisions like..........
The AMCA will have two engines of nearly 100kN thrust each to satisfy all its power requirements. The Kaveri Engine supposed to be developed for LCA Tejas provides just 70kN of thrust. The French company Safran has offered to review the program in £ 1million. The IAF is pressing on licence manufacturing of GE- F 414 Engine that powers the F 18. The Engines also need to have things like FADEC and 3D thrust Vector capabilities. For which HAL has to do a challenging job of designing them. The AMCA will have Integrated vehicle health management system (IVHMS) and Integrated Flight and Propulsion Control System (IFPCS) which will combine traditional and modern engine control systems to relive the pilot from much of the work along with increasing Engine life. These systems should either be added later or must be asked earlier for AMCA.
Without a confirming decision on Engines I am personally scared that AMCA may face the same fate as all Indigenous Aircrafts of HAL has faced be it HJT Kiran the HF24 or LCA.
The news has come that IAF would very soon make a final call for AMCA's engine. Moreover now IITs have also said to have teamed up to develop a turbofan engine for combat aircraft.
The Indigenous weapons like Astra BVR , Sudarshan Laser Guided Bomb and DRDO'S anti radiation missiles are in testing phase and hence their sizes hasn't been optimised yet. Moreover they simply does not seem small enough to be fitted inside the weapon bays of AMCA. IAF must convey this to ADA about what weapons they want on AMCA. Which till now seems that IAF hasn't communicated yet. The BVR air to air missiles of F22 can fold their fins so that they could be fitted inside weapon bays and F22 carries small diameter bombs.
Seeing the size of Sudarshan LGB it does not seem to able to be fitted inside AMCA's internal weapon bays. IAF may not have convyed this just to keep all options open.
IAF fighters aren't seen carrying any nextgeneration air to ground weapons like Glide Bombs, JDAMs ,AirLaunched cruise missiles, etc. So it is difficult to say that AMCA would carry these kind of Smart Weapons or not. As AMCA isn't going to carry any targetting pod then it may be possible that it would possibly carry Satellite Navigation guided bombs. MiG 29 and Su 30 of IAF carry Russian TV guided missiles but they are old.
Definitely as a replacement for Mirage and MiG 29s in IAF the AMCA will have a role of Offensive Air to Air and Defensive Air to Air Combat. Besides providing Air Superiority in wartime and perform a Combat Air Patrol. I personally have doubts about how can it be a replacement for Mirages. AMCA at its best can carry 2 bombs and that too internally it isn't yet clear that it will have an IRST scanner or not hence it has to rely on it's AESA radar for targeting purpose. Being stealth it cannot even carry any targeting pod. In future India and many others will have stealth bomber drones for performing precision ground attack roles. Calling AMCA for any such role would be costly.
For Air to Air missions it is an Impressive Replacement. There is no doubts about it's stealth capabilities as it is clear from the images that AMCA has almost duplicated the frontal designs of the highly stealthly F22. It is expected therefore that AMCA will be able to perform missions with in a combat radius of nearly 1500 to 2000 kms. That is essential for India's Military Doctrine.
Apart from having regular sensors like MAWS, RWR, AESA Radar AMCA must have something more. Because we can get all these in a 4th generation fighter too. The advanced sensors like Sorbicija Jammer that reflects 'false target position' to the enemy or Dassault Rafael's Spectra which reflects noise back to the ground radar to confuse it. Without such unique and one of a kind electronic capabilities nobody is going to purchase AMCA.
But to develop such sensors IAF has to convey it's practical experiences to HAL and ADA. It has to do threat optimisation for AMCA so that it's designers could suggest some breakthrough measures to eleminiate/evade threats.
With Aircrafts like F 22 Raptor already in operation since 2006. The Chinese have been developing Anti-Stealth technologies to detect such Very Low Observable Aircrafts. Then in that case AMCA must have something more. This is the area where there are chances to develop something new that hasn't been made yet.
Carefully studying the Chinese Anti-Stealth technology would help develop detection technologies to counter that.
Rest all...... Lets just prepare for the worst
And Hope for the best !