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India advances development of Light Combat Aircraft for navy

16 September 2019
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A prototype of India’s naval LCA carried out its first arrested landing trial on 13 September at the IN’s shore-based test facility at INS Hansa in Goa. Source: Indian Navy

After a 40-month hiatus India's state-owned Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) has resumed flight trials of the Light Combat Aircraft (Navy) - LCA Navy - for the Indian Navy (IN).

A prototype of the naval LCA successfully carried out its first 'arrested landing' trial on 13 September at the IN's shore-based test facility at INS Hansa in Goa on the country's southwestern coast, the Indian government's Press Information Bureau (PIB) said in a statement, adding that this accomplishment will eventually pave the way for the naval LCA eventually undertaking 'landing demonstrations' on aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya .

IN sources told Jane's that the Mk 1 prototype of the naval LCA, which features a reinforced undercarriage to absorb the stresses exerted by taking off and landing on an aircraft carrier, was airborne after rolling 200 m on the test facility. The aircraft conducted the arrested landing after a 40-minute flight.

Development of the naval Tejas Mk 1, which is a variant of the Indian Air Force's (IAF's) Tejas LCA Mk 1, was initiated in 2004-05 but the aircraft only conducted its maiden test flight in 2012, more than three years behind schedule.

Thereafter, two prototypes (NP1 & NP2) carrying two Russian Vympel R-73 (NATO AA-11 Archer) air-to-air missiles each, validated four ski-jump trials between them from the Goa test facility, which replicates the deck of an aircraft carrier. Also successfully tested was the 'hot refuelling' capability, which entails replenishing the platform with the pilot in the cockpit and its engines running, with the aim of facilitating an immediate turnaround.

The Mk 1 prototypes are fitted with the same engine as the IAF's Tejas Mk 1: the US General Electric F404-GE-IN20 afterburning turbofan engine, which generates 80-85 kN of thrust. This engine will also power the proposed 6-8 follow-on limited series production (LSP) of naval LCA platforms.

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