Naval light combat aircraft lands on INS Vikramaditya
A prototype of the naval version of the light combat aircraft on Saturday landed on the country’s sole aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya for the first time, a significant step towards India developing its own deck-based fighters, two senior officials said.
The carrier is currently deployed in the Arabian Sea and operates Russian-origin MiG-29K fighters. Last September, the LCA Navy successfully executed its first-ever arrested landing at a shore-based test facility (SBTF) in Goa. The LCA Navy has only two prototypes.
The navy has created an aircraft carrier setting on the ground at its air base in Goa to operate these deck-based fighters, which use ski jump to take off and are recovered by arrestor wires on a carrier or STOBAR (short takeoff but arrested recovery) in navy parlance.
“After completing extensive trials on the SBTF, the naval version of LCA did a successful arrested landing on-board INS Vikramaditya at 1002 hrs today. Commodore Jaideep Maolankar conducted the maiden landing,” the defence ministry said in a statement. The LCA is expected to take off from the carrier for the first time on Sunday. It is expected to carry out 20 landings and take offs over the next week.
“This is an important step. In time, one hopes that longer range armament, good networking with other combat assets would enable the LCA Navy to be an important air component of INS Vikramaditya and Vikrant, which is under construction. Indigenous is the way to go,” said military affairs expert Rear Admiral Sudarshan Shrikhande.
Only the US, the UK, Russia, France and China have built fighter jets that have carried out arrested landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Carrier strike groups help a country project maritime power thousands of miles away from its shores. Such groups are escorted by destroyers, frigates, submarines and supply vessels.
“With this feat, the indigenously developed niche technologies specific to deck-based fighter operations have been proven, which will now pave the way to develop and manufacture the Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter for the #IndianNavy,” the Indian Navy tweeted.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh congratulated the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Indian Navy. “Extremely happy to learn of the maiden landing of DRDO developed LCA Navy on INS Vikramaditya...,” Singh tweeted.
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