The naval variant of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas made its first short, arrested landing with arrestor wires on the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) in Goa on Friday.
"A milestone event towards development of an indigenous Deck Based Fighter aircraft was achieved today with the first ever arrested landing on the Shore Based Testing Facility at the Naval Air Station at Goa, by LCA (Navy) aircraft flown by Cmde JA Maolankar," spokesperson for the Indian Navy tweeted.
“The Naval LCA made a successful trap on the SBTF in Goa a short while back. This is a two-seater variant,” a defence source told The Hindu. Further details are awaited.
The naval LCA made its maiden flight in April 2012 and two prototypes have been flying as part of the development. The first prototype (NP1) of the Naval LCA made a successful first flight from the SBTF in 2014.
After a series of successful trials on the SBTF, the LCA will attempt landing on the deck of carrier INS Vikramaditya.
The SBTF, which replicates the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, was specifically built to train naval pilots in the complex manoeuvres of landing on the short flight deck of an aircraft carrier after before they moved on to the actual carrier.
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 1000 m required for normal runways. Its special flight control law mode allows hands-free take-off, reducing the pilot’s workload, as the aircraft leaps from the ramp and automatically puts the aircraft in an ascending trajectory.
In December 2016, Navy chief Adm Sunil Lanba stated that the LCA in the present form “does not meet the carrier capability which is required by the Navy” but added that they would continue to support the development programme. He stated that the current weight of the naval LCA with the underpowered engine did not allow it to fly from a carrier.
The Navy currently operates Russian MiG-29K fighters from INS Vikramaditya, which will also fly from the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier Vikrant once it enters service. The Navy is currently evaluating global tenders for 57 carrier-based twin engine fighter aircraft.