India successfully flight-tests naval version of LCA

India on Saturday successfully flight-tested a Naval version of the light combat aircraft (LCA), the first indigenously designed and developed 4th plus generation combat aircraft designed to operate from the decks of air-craft carriers.

With the latest test flight, the LCA Naval version has proved its worthiness and is ready for induction into the Indian Navy.

''LCA (Navy) Prototype 1 (NP1), took-off from ski-jump facility of shore-based test facility at INS Hansa in Goa yesterday. Piloted by Commodore Jaideep Maolankar, the chief test pilot of National Flight Test Centre, the aircraft had a perfect flight with results matching the predicted ones to the letter,'' an official release stated.

''The indigenous Indian Naval Carrier Borne Aviation programme has been launched, literally from the Ski-Jump,'' the release stated.

The aircraft has been readied for flight testing through the relentless effort of HAL's Aircraft Research & Design Centre (ARDC) team, the release added.

The launch was orchestrated by the test director Cdr J D Raturi and Safety Pilot Capt Shivnath Dahiya supported by Gp Capt Anoop Kabadwal, Gp Capt RR Tyagi and Lt Cdr Vivek Pandey.

"With today's copybook flight of LCA-Navy from the land based ski-jump facility we see our own indigenous combat aircrafts soon flying from the decks of our aircraft carriers,'' Dr Avinash Chander, scientific advisor to defence minister, secretary DDR&D and director general of DRDO, said.

''A complex task of Ski Jump of NP1 Executed beautifully,'' Dr Tamilmani, DS & DG Aeronautics, said, congratulating the LCA Navy programme team.

LCA (Navy) is designed with stronger landing gears to absorb forces exerted by the ski jump ramp during take-off, to be airborne within 200 m as against 1000m required for normal runways. It's special flight control law mode allows hands-free take-off relieving the pilot workload, as the aircraft leaps from the ramp and automatically puts the aircraft in an ascending trajectory.

The maiden successful, picture perfect launch of NP1 from ski jump at shore based test facility at Goa is a testimony to the tremendous efforts put in by scientists and engineers to design the Naval aircraft, its simulator (that helps pilots to know well in advance how the aircraft will behave on ski jump) and the flight test team that timed the whole event to near perfection.

The LCA Navy programme team of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) has been ably supported by the certification agency, CEMILAC and the quality assurance agency, CRI (LCA) with INS Hansa, the Naval Air Station playing the host to achieve this significant milestone, the release added.

The shore based test facility (SBTF) has been created to replicate the aircraft carrier with a ski jump for take-off and arresting gear cable for arrested landing; by ADA with the participation of the Indian Navy, Goa shipyard, CCE (R&D) West, Pune, R&D Engg (E) Pune and the Russian agencies providing the design support and specialised equipment.