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LCA Tejas Navy makes arrested landing, clears a big hurdle before aircraft carrier test

After completing a series of such short and arrester landings, Tejas Navy will get operational clearance to execute the same on aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.

LCA Tejas Navy makes arrested landing, clears a big hurdle before aircraft carrier test
Image Credit: Indian Navy Twitter

PANAJI: In a major achievement towards developing an indigenous fighter for Indian Navy's aircraft carriers, the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas Navy was on Friday successful in making a wire-arrested landing at Goa's Shore-based Test Facility (SBTF) INS Hansa.

Calling the maiden arrested landing of LCA Navy, a "golden letter day" in the history of Indian Naval Aviation, the DRDO said the development has put the country on the world map with the capability to develop a deck landing aircraft. "Today, the first-ever arrested landing of LCA (Navy) at the shore-based test facility, INS Hansa Goa will pave the way for this Indigenous platform to undertake Aircraft Carrier landing demonstration onboard the Indian Naval Aircraft Carrier, Vikramaditya," said DRDO.

"After several years of flight testing and four campaigns of dedicated testing at Shore Based Test facility Goa, today the LCA (Navy) Flight Test Team led by Commodore JA Maolankar (Chief Test Pilot), Captain Shivnath Dahiya (LSO) and Commander JD Raturi (Test Director) successfully executed a textbook arrested landing at the Shore Based Test Facility, INS Hansa, Goa. This arrested landing heralds the arrival of true indigenous capability and displays the professional prowess of our scientific community Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) embeded with design plus build capability of HAL(ARDC), DRDO and CSIR Labs involved in executing this landmark event," the defence agency said.

"This event marks the start of a new era where multiple agencies have come together to achieve a common goal. The participation of Certification Agency (CEMILAC), Quality Agency (DGAQA) and above all the men and women on the ground who serviced the aircraft and monitored it during strenuous trails is truly commendable. The support of Indian Navy through the Navy Project office and DAPM at IHQ MoD Navy is noteworthy. Today's event has put India on the world map as a nation with the capability to design a deck landing aircraft," the statement read.

As the LCA Tejas Navy prototype piloted by Commodore Maolankar came for landing, its tailhook was lowered which was caught by the arrester wire resulting in the fighter coming to a stop just a few metres after touchdown. The arrestor hook and other systems developed by ARDC, HAL and all systems performed as expected during arrested landing. The plane had first flown with a tailhook on July 23, 2018.

The Naval version of LCA Tejas was first flown in April 2012 and the DRDO and ADA are currently testing two planes for the Navy. Since a plane which operates from an aircraft carrier needs stronger landing gears than one taking off and landing on a runway on the ground, several modifications have to be incorporated for the same. Fighters taking off from an aircraft carrier need to get airborne in less than 200 metres as against almost a 1-kilometre long runway needed by jets taking off from a ground-based runway.

INS Vikramaditya has a ramp which allows results in the fighter taking off from its runway jumping up. LCA Tejas Navy also has hands-free take-off and the SBTF has been constructed as a replica of an aircraft carrier to train Navy pilots.

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The aircraft carrier is armed with the Russian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29K fighters and the same will also operate from the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier Vikrant which is under construction. The Navy is also looking at buying 57 fighters to operate from its aircraft carriers.

However, in December 2016, Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba had pointed out that the naval version of LCA Tejas was "too heavy" for an aircraft carrier. “As far as the carrier-based aircraft is concerned, we need it in a timeline of the induction of the aircraft carrier. We have the MiG-29K, which operates from Vikramaditya and will operate from (indigenous aircraft carrier) IAC Vikrant. We were also hoping to operate the LCA (Light Combat Aircraft-Tejas) from these two aircraft carriers. Unfortunately, the LCA is not being able to meet the carrier’s required capability. That is why we need an alternative aircraft to operate from these two aircraft carriers,” Lanba had said.