Naval LCA will take to skies soon

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) chief P S Subramanya said, “We have completed a series of ground tests and are almost through with the flight certification. We should have the first flight in the next four weeks.”

The LCA Naval Prototype-1 (NP1), which is a trainer aircraft, will take to the skies for the first time in mid-December, but not without the required caution.

Subramanya, pointing out the flawless flight record of the Indian Air Force-version of Tejas has had - with no crashes or failures reported - said: “We do not want to hurry up things in excitement and repent later.”

The IAF version of Tejas had its first flight on January 4, 2001. It has completed over 1,500 hours of flight, undergoing various tests, and has obtained the initial operational clearance (IOC).

Improvement

The LCA NP-1 though, will be different from its predecessor with a longer and stronger gear, front fuselage droop for better over-the-nose vision, an additional control surface to reduce carrier landing speed and consequential changes in various systems and will fly with a GE-F404-IN20 engine.

The LCA NP-1, designed specifically for ski jump take-off and arrested landing, is facing heavy undercarriage problem, which the team LCA is in the process of addressing.

A recent report said that it was bulkier by 500 kg. It had mentioned that the problem was first diagnosed in September 2010 and that the team has been in the process of reducing the same ever since.

The heavy undercarriage is being seen as one of the reasons for the delay in the maiden flight of the prototype. The aircraft, being developed for the Indian Navy, is likely to replace the Sea Harrier squadron, and already, orders for six aircraft have been placed.

While the NP-1 is a twin seater trainer, the NP-2 will be a single-seat fighter.

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