The DRDO has tested two LCA-N prototypes are being tested single seat and two seat variant. This arrested landing feat has been achieved by fighter planes developed in the US, Russia, the UK, and France.
The naval version of the Light Combat Aircraft `Teja’, the aircraft made a successful short landing with arrestor wires on the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) based in Goa. With this success, India joins a select group of countries in the world who have the capability to design a deck landing aircraft. DRDO officials have confirmed that the “The Naval LCA, a two-seat variant made a successful trap on the SBTF in Goa today.” The naval version of the LCA had its maiden flight on April 2012, and since then two prototypes have been flying as part of the development. So far the first prototype (NP1) of the Naval LCA had made a successful first flight from the SBTF in 2014.
The next step is that after a series of trials on the SBTF, the indigenous LCA is expected to attempt landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. The DRDO has tested two LCA-N prototypes are being tested single-seat and two-seat variant. This arrested landing feat has been achieved by fighter planes developed in the US, Russia, the UK, and France.
According to DRDO officials, this test involved several years of flight testing and four campaigns by the Flight Test Team led by Cmde JA Maolankar (Chief Test Pilot), Capt Shivnath Dahiya (LSO) & Cdr J D Raturi (Test Director) who successfully executed a text book arrested landing at the Shore Based Test Facility.
“This `arrested landing’ heralds the arrival of true indigenous capability and the professional prowess of our scientific community Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) embedded with the design plus build capability of HAL(ARDC), DRDO and CSIR Labs involved in executing this landmark event,” DRDO officials added.
This has also ushered in an era where multiple agencies have joined hands for a common goal. The Certification Agency (CEMILAC), Quality Agency (DGAQA) and Indian Navy through the Navy Project office and DAPM at IHQ MoD Navy have all been part of this project.
What is SBTF?
This replicates the flight deck of an aircraft carrier.
This has been specifically built to train naval pilots in the complex manoeuvres of landing on the short flight deck of an aircraft carrier which is important step before they moved on to the actual carrier.
#WATCH DRDO and the Aeronautical Development Agency successfully executed the first ever arrested landing of LCA Tejas (Navy) at the shore based test facility in Goa. This is a step towards the aircraft getting operational on aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. (video:DRDO) pic.twitter.com/LcsnIYTHPU
— ANI (@ANI) September 13, 2019
Naval Version of LCA Tejas
The naval version of the LCA has been designed in India and has stronger landing gears which can absorb forces exerted by the ski jump ramp during take-off. And has the capability to be airborne within 200m, as against 1000 m required for normal runways.
With its special flight control law mode it also allows hands-free take-off. This reduces the pilot’s workload, as the aircraft leaps from the ramp and then automatically puts the aircraft in an ascending trajectory.
During the annual press conference in 2016, the former Naval chief Admiral Sunil Lanba had stated that the LCA in the present form “does not meet the carrier capability which has been specified by the Indian Navy ”, adding that they would continue to support the development programme. He had said in response to a question stated that the current weight of the naval LCA with the underpowered engine did not allow it to fly from a carrier.
Presently, the Indian Navy is operating Russian MiG-29K fighters from INS Vikramaditya, and will soon be flying the indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant once it enters service. Also, the evaluation of global tenders for 57 carrier-based twin-engine fighter aircraft is going on by the Indian Navy.