India's indigenization of military aircraft design and manufacturing: towards a fifth-generation fighter

Document Type

Book chapter

Publication details

charles, MB & Sinnewe, E 2015, 'Australia's cooperative research centre program: a transaction cost theory perspective', in MJ Webb & A Wijeweera (eds.), The Political Economy of Conflict in South Asia, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK, pp. 93-113. ISBN 9781137397430

Peer Reviewed



India has traditionally looked northward towards Pakistan as a potential aggressor. Since the creation of the separate states of Pakistan and India in 1947, there have been four wars between the two nations, one of which was undeclared, in addition to numerous border skirmishes. One might well imagine that India will continue to keep a close eye on its northern neighbour into the future. However, with the rapid emergence of China as a major geopolitical influence in the broader Asian region, it has become clear that Indian military strategists are now viewing China — a nation traditionally friendly to Pakistan — as the greater rival and threat. Despite the increasing strength in economic ties between China and India, as evidenced by China being India’s largest trading partner (Krishnan, 2011), China’s expanding military capabilities have not gone unnoticed by India. With its intention to develop a US-style carrier battle group, and the likelihood of deploying an indigenous fifth-generation air superiority fighter in the future (which could have a carrier-based application), China poses a credible future threat to Indian dominance over the Bay of Bengal and Indian airspace in the north of the country (Garver, 2002). In particular, China is seeking to develop an almost completely indigenous military equipment manufacturing capacity, which is best evidenced by an emerging view that it will soon develop its own locally designed aircraft carrier to complement the Soviet-era carrier that it has already acquired (Pasandideh, 2014).