“The second LCA naval prototype (NP2) was flown for the first time for 35 minutes, giving a major fillip to the Tejas programme. Efforts of our aircraft research and design centre’s engineers on the complex landing gear design made the flight possible, as it is different from the air force version,” HAL chairman T. Suvarna Raju said in a statement.
Indian Navy test pilot Captain Shivnath Dahiya flew the twin-seater fighter plane under telemetry control provided by National Flight Test Centre (NFTC) director Commander J.D. Raturi and its chief test pilot Commodore J.A. Maolankar from the HAL airport here.
The chase aircraft was flown by Group Captains (retd.) Suneet Krishna, Prabhu and R.R. Tyagi.
State-run Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) programme director P.S. Subramanyam, who guided the design teams, ensured that the systems met the stringent requirements of a carrier borne aircraft.
Defence aviation regulator and certifying agency Cemilac (Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification), quality assurance agency, state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) participated in the maiden test flight.
The event marks the growth of the indigenous LCA (Navy) programme, aimed to achieve carrier compatibility technology demonstration, including arrested landing and ski-jump take-off, initially from the shore-based test facility in Goa.
“The success of the maiden flight of NP2 is a testimony to the efforts put in by our scientists and engineers in building the first LCA Naval fighter. With a trainer and a fighter in its stable, the indigenous carrier borne fighter programme is making headway in acquiring momentum,” Raju said.
The NP2 incorporates most avionic hardware components. During design and building, the aircraft was customised (plug and play) to accept modifications for carrier landing aids like Levcon air data computer, auto-throttle, external and internal angle of attack lights.
“NP2 is the lead aircraft for arrestor hook integration, derby beyond visual range missile and tactical data link. Its inclusion into the LCA (Navy) flight test stable is significant in the indigenous carrier borne aircraft development programme,” the statement added.
The central government sanctioned the naval programme of the LCA project in 2003, with the first stage of development comprising a trainer prototype and fighter prototype (NP2).
The defence ministry has also approved building two more prototypes under mark-1 for initial operational clearance (IOC) and two more aircraft under mark-2 for final operational clearance in the near future.
The Indian Navy will require 53 carrier-borne LCA fighters to form two squadrons.