India's DRDO will display the take-off of the Naval Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) at the Republic Day parade on January 26.
A tableaux depicting the launch of the LCA from the INS Vikramaditya carrier will form part of the DRDO’s exhibits at the parade. It shows landing, take-off and lift operation, three most important operations required to be met by an aircraft onboard a carrier ship.
The display underscores the importance attached to the development of the Naval LCA. A twin engine option is being considered for LCA Navy.
The LCA Navy is India’s first 4+ Generation STOBAR (Ski-Jump Take Off But Arrested Recovery) fighter aircraft capable of operating from an aircraft carrier.
The naval variant of Tejas LCA completed its maiden arrested landing onboard India’s INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier. It successfully demonstrated landing on a 90m runway and take-off from short run of 145m in 2020.
The jet 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 200m, as against 1000m 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.