New Delhi: The naval variant of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas made a successful short landing with arrestor wires on the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) in Goa on Friday. This is seen as a major step forward for the delayed project as it tests modifications that will allow the naval variant of the Tejas to eventually operate from an aircraft carrier.
The naval LCA made its first flight in April 2012 and two prototypes have been flying as part of the development. The first prototype (NP1) of the Naval LCA made a successful first flight from the SBTF in 2014. The SBTF, which replicates the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, was specifically built to train naval pilots in the complex manoeuvres of landing on the short flight deck of an aircraft carrier before they moved on to the actual carrier.
Once the results of the trials on the SBTF are deemed successful, the LCA will attempt a landing on the deck of the Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.
The naval version of the LCA is designed with stronger landing gear to absorb the force exerted by the ski jump ramp during take-off allowing it to be airborne from a much shorter runway on the deck of the aircraft carrier. Its special flight control law mode allows hands-free take-off, reducing the pilot’s workload as the aircraft leaps from the ramp and automatically puts the aircraft in an ascending trajectory.
The Navy currently operates Russian MiG-29K fighters from INS Vikramaditya which will also fly from the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier Vikrant once it enters service. The Navy is currently looking at global tenders for 57 carrier-based twin engine fighter aircraft.