India rolls out indigenous Naval LCA

India`s first indigenously built Naval combat plane rolled out on Tuesday.

Bangalore: India`s first indigenous Naval
Light Combat Aircraft, touted as the only carrier-borne
warplane in the light category in the world, rolled out here
today in an important milestone for the Navy.

Defence Minister A K Antony described as "a defining and
a memorable moment" the roll-out of the two-seater LCA (Navy)
NP1 whose first test-flight is expected by this year-end.

The naval version of IAF`s LCA assembled at the
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) facility here is now ready
to undergo systems integration tests, leading to ground runs,
taxi trials and flights, officials said. Once the ground based
tests are completed it is expected to make its maiden flight
by the end of this year.

The aircraft, with state of the art technologies and
punch, is designed to operate from the future indigenous
aircraft carriers the Navy plans to acquire. It is the first
indigenous effort to build a complete air element for the

It will be operating with a wide variety of operational
weapons and equipment like the Beyond Visual Range (BVR)
missile, Anti-ship Missiles, Conventional bombs, Air Defence
guns, and drop tanks.

"It is a defining and a memorable moment as it will
give boost to indigenisation," Antony said at the event
attended by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma,
Secretary (Defence Production) and top officials of HAL and
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The warplane has been developed under the prestigious
Naval Programme of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).

Antony utilised the occasion to urge all the partners
including ADA, HAL, DRDO and CSIR to "not only maintain the
tempo but to take it to the feverish pitch and ensure the
first flight of NP1 in the next three to four months".

The development of a naval aircraft is a challenging
task and testing it is an even more complex operation, he

"Towards this end a shore based test facility (SBTF) is
under construction at the naval air station in Goa, which
will also have facility for a sky jump for take off arresting
gear like in a ship," the Defence Minister said.

Noting that the specialised equipment for SBTF would
be supplied by Russia, Antony said, "I understand that the
take off area of landing will be ready soon. This facility can
be used as a training centre for both pilots and maintenance
and makes it a precious national asset."

The development of LCA (Navy) NP1 and its fighter
counterpart (NP2) is aimed at providing a formidable platform
with a higher thrust engine and an optimised mass for suitable
replacement to the ageing Sea Harriers at a later date.

The aircraft will fly with US-made GE-F-404-IN20 engine
and is specifically designed for ski jump take off and
arrested landing, with high landing loads compared to its Air
Force counterpart.

The formal sanction by the government for the Naval
programme was given in the year 2003. The first stage of
development includes design and fabrication of one trainer and
one fighter--NP1 and NP2 respectively--along with a shore-
based test facility (SBTF) in Goa, to simulate carrier take
off and arrested landing.


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