LCA Navy prototype completes maiden flight

LCA Navy prototype completes maiden flight

The aircraft is Indias first indigenous carrier-borne naval fighter

LCA Navy prototype completes maiden flight

The naval prototype (NP-1) of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) completed a glitch-free 21-minute maiden flight here on Friday, after almost two years since its roll out on July 6, 2010.

The flight test was carried out at the HAL Airport with Commodore J A Maolankar at the controls and Wing Commander M Prabhu co-piloting the aircraft within the designated flight envelope and successfully carrying out the planned tests.

The aircraft which was scheduled to take off at 10 am was delayed by two hours and ten minutes with bad weather preventing the sortie. At 12.08 pm the LCA Tejas (IAF version) screamed past the runway, taking off into the skies amid whistles and cheers but that was only the chase aircraft.

The real moment came two minutes later, at 12:10 pm, when the LCA-NP 1, the naval prototype of the aircraft became air-borne. A hawk aircraft also did the sortie as a stand-by.

“This flight has brought pride to India,” V K Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister,  said after the aircraft landed safely.

“The country has joined another elite club of countries capable of designing, developing, manufacturing and testing four plus generation Carrier-borne Fly-by-Wire Ski Take Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) aircraft,” he added.

While this is India’s first indigenous effort to build a carrier-borne naval fighter, it is the second STOBAR aircraft in the world. The Russian deck-based aircraft is the first. The LCA Navy though is only a light category carrier-borne fighter.

The aircraft became airborne and reached an elevation of 10,000 feet above the sea level at 450 kmph and flew about 30-km from the base before returning for the landing.
Maolankar said that they carried out various checks and observations during the sortie and that a lot of data has been collected, which will now be analysed.

Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Satish Sonim who was also present on the occasion said that Team LCA should put their heads down and get to the initial operational clearance (IOC) stage by 2014 so that the process of induction could be expedited.

The LCA Navy programme, initiated in 2003, envisages building two prototypes.

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