The naval variant of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas completed its maiden arrested landing onboard INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier on Saturday.
"After completing extensive trials on the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF), Naval version of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) did a successful arrested landing onboard INS Vikramaditya at 1002 hrs today," the Indian Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
LCA Navy has been developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The fighter made its maiden flight in April 2012 and two prototypes had been flying as part of the development. The naval LCA made its first short, arrested landing with arrestor wires on the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) in Goa in September 2019.
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 Admiral 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 said 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.