The Naval version of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Mk1 Tejas successfully landed onboard the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. The Naval version is under development whereas the Indian Air Force has already inducted the indigenously made fighters.
Naval aviation is one of the most complicated arenas given the complexities. For instance, when a Naval fighter is preparing to land on a carrier it simultaneously is also prepared to take-off in case the landing has to be aborted – testing skills of the pilot and the machine to the edge. In comparison to ground-based fighters, Naval fighters need additional thrust to take-off from a short airstrip. In addition, the landing gear of Naval fighters needs to be stronger to be able to bear the impact of landing and take-off in short runways. In contrast to a normal 1000 m runway for shore-based fighters, Naval fighters make do a maximum of 200 m for take-off and even shorter runway for landing.
Drawing upon the experience of the single-engine Tejas, the Defence and Research Development Organization has offered to develop a new twin-engine deck-based fighter. The twin-engine fighter should be ready by 2026.
The Navy currently operates Russian Mig-29K fighters from INS Vikramaditya, which will also fly from the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) Vikrant once it enters service. The Navy is currently evaluating global tenders for 57 carrier-based twin-engine fighter aircraft.
“After completing extensive trials on the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF), Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) developed LCA Navy did an arrested landing on INS Vikramaditya successfully today January 11, 2020, at 10:02 hours,” the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said on Twitter. Commodore Jaideep Maolankar did the maiden landing, it added.
Earlier, the Naval LCA recently successfully completed take-off and landing trials on the Shore-based Test Facility (SBTF) in Goa. 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 move on to the actual carrier.
The Naval LCA-Mk1 made its maiden flight in April 2012. There are two prototypes that are flying as part of the development.