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Indian Navy’s Light Combat Aircraft prototype makes first carrier landing

13 January 2020
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The LCA (N) Mk 1 prototype is expected to conduct additional landings on INS Vikramaditya. to “fine-tune” the aircraft’s avionics, assorted on-board systems, and flight computer software. Source: Indian Navy

A prototype of India's indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (Navy) (LCA (N)) Mk 1 successfully carried out its first 'arrested landing' on 11 January on the deck of INS Vikramaditya (ex- Admiral Gorshkov ), the Indian Navy's (IN's) sole aircraft carrier, during a deployment in the Arabian Sea.

IN sources told Jane's on 13 January that the LCA (N) Mk 1 prototype, which was developed by the state-owned Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) - is expected to conduct additional landings on the carrier to "fine-tune" the aircraft's avionics, assorted on-board systems, and flight computer software.

The Indian government's Press Information Bureau (PIB) said that the carrier landing followed extensive trials at the IN's shore-based test facility (SBTF) at INS Hansa in Goa on India's southwestern coast.

The single-engine LCA (N) Mk 1, which features a reinforced undercarriage, had successfully conducted its first 'arrested landing' at the SBTF in September 2019, which was followed by around 30 similar touchdowns thereafter.

The IN, however, will not be inducting the Mk 1, which is a variant of the Indian Air Force's (IAF's) Tejas LCA Mk 1. Just like the Tejas, the naval variant is powered by the US General Electric F404-GE-IN20 afterburning turbofan engine capable of generating 80-85 kN of thrust.

In December 2016 then-IN Chief of Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba had stated that this engine did not fulfill the navy's 'thrust-to-weight' requirement for taking off with an adequate fuel and weapons load from the deck of an aircraft carrier.

As a result, the IN is now waiting for the ADA to develop the Mk 2 variant of the LCA (N), which is expected to be a carrier-borne fighter powered by two General Electric F414 engines, each of which is capable of generating 90 kN of thrust.

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