New Delhi: The indigenously built naval version of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) rolled out of its hangar at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) facility in Bangalore on Tuesday.
Defence Minister AK Antony was in attendance to witness the important milestone for the naval programme of Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).
Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma was the chief guest at the event. The aircraft is being readied for induction into the Navy and for deployment on board the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC), currently under construction at the Cochin Shipyard, by 2015.
Assembled part-by-part at the HAL Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) the LCA (Navy) NP1 equipped with state-of-the-art technologies will now enter the phase of
systems integration tests leading to ground runs, taxi trials and flight trials.
Once the ground based tests are completed, the `NP1` is expected to fly by the end of this year and the NP2 is likely to fly by the end of 2011.
The government had sanctioned the LCA (Navy) programme in 2003 and the first stage of development included design and fabrication of a trainer and a fighter -- NP1 and NP2 respectively -- along with a Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) at Goa naval air base, which has already come up.
The SBTF is being used to simulate carrier take off and arrested landing and as a training facility for future pilots of the naval LCA.
It is also being used for training on the newly acquired MiG-29K fighter jets, bought from Russia to be operated on the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, which is under a repair and refit programme in a Russian shipyard.
The LCA (Navy) NP1 would be flying with the GE-F-404-IN20 engine and is designed for Ski-jump Take Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) operations.
The only carrier-borne aircraft in the light category in the world, Naval LCA 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, counter-counter measures and drop tanks.
The ADA is responsible for design, development, ground test and flight test of both the Naval and Air Force versions of the LCA. HAL is the principal partner of ADA in this task.
The Indian Navy, the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) and Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DGAQA), all have played an important supporting role in the development of the Naval LCA right from its inception, the officials said.