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Naval Variant Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mk1

On October 18, 2016, at a meeting between then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, an Indian Navy team and representatives of the DRDO, it was officially decided that the file on the LCA Mk.1 and Mk.2 would be closed from a procurement perspective, though funding would continue. Noting that the proposed Mk.2 also did not meet requirements and would be available too late, Parrikar signed off on a decision to de-link the LCA program from the navy’s quest for further fighters.

Twin- and single-seat carrier-capable variants were developed for the Indian Navy. The LCA's naval variant was intended to be ready for carrier trials by 2013 and was slated for deployment on the INS Vikramaditya as well as the Vikrant class aircraft carrier. It would be equipped for carrier operation with the capability to carry out ski-jump take-off and arrested landing. It would include strengthened airframe and landing gear and the nose is drooped for better cockpit vision.

The LCA (Navy) is India's first indigenous effort to build a carrier borne naval fighter aircraft, a vital ingredient in the navy's expansion plans. It is designed to operate from the future Indigenous aircraft carriers, the Indian Navy plans to acquire. It would use ski-jump for take-off and arrested landing for aircraft carrier operations. The naval LCA uses a drooped nose section for better view and strengthened airframe structure for aircraft-carrier operations.

Having resolved the issue of sourcing material for the landing gear of the naval variant of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) slated the inaugural flight for late 2009. The naval fighter aircraft is a twin-seater variant with the nomenclature NP1 (naval prototype one). It would look similar to PV-5 (prototype vehicle five) of the LCA being developed for the Indian Air Force (IAF), though the naval aircraft would be powered by a more powerful engine. It would be a replacement for the British-made Sea Harrier jump jets currently used by the Navy. The Navy has placed intent to procure 40 aircraft.

The first prototype of the naval version of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was expected to fly towards the end of 2009. Within a few months of the first flight, a second prototype of the naval LCA was also to take to the skies. The first version of the naval LCA would be a twin-seater trainer version, whereas the second naval LCA would be a fighter. Both are Mark-I versions with limited capabilities and additional weight. A Mark-II variation of the naval LCA is also under development and scheduled to be realised by 2014-15. The naval LCA, meant for future aircraft carriers, would have arrester-hooks using which a fighter plan can land on the dock, and immediately come to a complete halt.

The Naval version of the Indian Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, made its maiden flight from the HAL airport in Bangalore on 27th April 2012. This was a significant milestone in the history of Indian Aviation in designing a naval variant of a fighter aircraft. The prototype NP 1 was flown by Indian Navy's veteran Test Pilot, Cmde Jaideep Maolankar, with Wg. Cdr. M Prabhu (a veteran Flight Test Engineer, in the rear cockpit. After the initial system integration checks at Bangalore, the NP 1 would be dedicated for carrier compatibility tests at the shore based test facility at INS Hansa, Goa.

Though the aircraft looks quite similar to the regular Air Force trainer version, it is significantly different anatomically. This is because it is designed to land on an aircraft carrier with adequate pilot visibility during landing and take off. The landing gear with its high sink rate of 7.1 m/sec arising from ship deck requirement had imposed serious challenge to the designers, which has now been successfully circumvented.

The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Navy remained behind schedule. As of 2012 it appeared unlikely to meet target of Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) by 2014, with IOC likely to be achieved by 2016 and entry into service towards 2020.

The first prototype of the light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas Naval Version - LCA NP-1 completed its maiden flight as the part of the carrier compatibility tests at the shore-based test facility in Goa on 20 December 2014.

On 07 February 2015 the second prototype of the Light Combat Aircraft, the NP-2, flew her maiden flight from HAL Airport in Bengaluru. Piloted by Capt. Shivnath Dahiya (Indian Navy), the aircraft performed flawlessly in the first-flight. The NP-2 was escorted by a chase aircraft piloted by Gp. Capt. Suneet Krishna (retd), flying in the Tejas LSP-2, to observe the landmark first flight.

LCA Navy Mk2

Phase-2 of LCA Navy Program envisages development of two single seat Fighter aircraft with a new higher thrust engine (GE-F414-INS6) and further design optimisation to reduce drag. LCA Navy Mk2 would undergo weight reduction through a redesigned landing gear and associated structure and increased internal fuel as critical driving factors in its design. LCA Navy Mk2 would have enhanced mission performance and better maintainability.

By December 2016 the navy had ruled out deploying indigenously built light combat aircraft Tejas on its aircraft carriers, saying it is “not being able to meet the requirements”. Citing “overweight” as one of the reasons for ruling out Tejas for India’s aircraft carriers, Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of Naval Staff, told the Hindustan Times 03 December 2016 the navy is looking at procuring an alternative aircraft. “As far as the carrier-based aircraft is concerned, we need it in a time line of the induction of the aircraft carrier. We have the MiG 29K, which operates from Vikramaditya and would operate from (indigenous aircraft carrier) IAC Vikrant. “We were also hoping to operate the LCA (Light Combat Aircraft-Tejas) from these two aircraft carriers. “Unfortunately, the LCA is not being able to meet the carrier’s required capability. That is why we need an alternative aircraft to operate from these two aircraft carriers,” Lanba said.

Following the success of trial landings of the Tejas-N fighter on board INS Vikramaditya, the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) gave the go ahead in June 2020 for the development of a twin engine made-in-India fighter jet. ADA, the principal designer of the Tejas fighter, now in squadron service with the Indian Air Force, mentioned the indigenous growth of the brand new fighter in a gathering chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and attended by the Navy and Air Drive Chiefs on 22 May. Following this assembly, the Operational Requreiments (ORs) for the brand new fighter were issued by the Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence.

Improvement of the brand new fighter jet came at a time when the federal government introduced a collection of structural reforms within the Defence sector underneath the “Atmanirbhar” or self-reliance aim which is supposed to end in India dramatically chopping down on its defence imports.

Based mostly on the Tejas fighter, the brand new Navy fighter is supposed to complement MiG-29s. The prototype of the brand new fighter-jet, designed to function from the deck of India’s two aircraft carriers, INS Vikramaditya and the quickly to be inducted INS Vikrant, is supposed to fly within six years with induction of the fighter inside a decade, by 2030.

The fighter, plans for which had been first be reported on NDTV in January 2020, is a twin-engine evolution of Tejas-N prototype which has been indigenously developed and extensively test-flown. The Tejas-N programme culminated with a series of “arrested landings” and take-offs from INS Vikramaditya off the Goa coast. The arrangements of the two prototypes of the jet had been in a position to efficiently land on the carrier in January 2020 by utilizing its arrestor hook to snare metal wires unfolded across the deck of the ship. This allowed the fighters to decelerate from roughly 245 kmph (the touchdown velocity) to a standstill in roughly two seconds in a distance underneath 90 meters, the size of the deck of INS Vikramaditya.

These concerned with the design and growth of the brand new Indian fighter, a sophisticated variant of the single-engine Tejas-N, say that they’ve benchmarked the efficiency traits of the jet to Boeing’s F/A-18 E/F “Super Hornet”, in service with the US Navy, and the Marine Rafale, deployed on the French Navy's Charles de Gaulle carrier. The brand new jet might include technology being developed for the IAF’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), but would not be a stealth fighter in the identical class.

No fewer than three variations of the design of the brand new fighter were being studied. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) checks and wind tunnel modelling will make sure the optimum form of the fighter to match its projected operational capabilities. It was unclear whether or not the brand new fighter can be a tail-less delta platform, just like the IAF’s LCA Tejas fighter or, for that matter, characteristic canards, a small forewing positioned forward of the principle wing of the plane to assist manoeuvrability.

The brand new fighter, as soon as inducted, is supposed to complement and finally replace the Indian Navy’s fleet of MiG-29Ok fighters presently in service on board the INS Vikramaditya. A high-performance jet, the MiG-29Ok has been plagued with serviceability issues in Indian Navy service. The new indigenous fighter is designed to be extra dependable. Designers anticipate the brand new fighter to have the ability to be armed with no fewer than six air to air missiles, and have an operational endurance of roughly two hours.

The undertaking to develop a Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) displays a maturity and confidence within the growth of the Tejas fighter jet upon which the brand new fighter can be based. On May 27, the Indian Air Force operationalised its second Tejas fighter jet squadron after first inducting the jet in 2016. A number of variants of the Tejas based mostly on further capabilities are being progressively inducted. Probably the most superior variant of the fighter for the IAF, the Tejas Mk-2 is predicted to be inducted by 2025. The brand new fighter being developed for the Navy is being categorized as an altogether totally different fighter and is predicted to be superior to the IAF’s Tejas Mk-2 in a number of respects, as soon as developed.

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Page last modified: 13-09-2021 14:50:24 ZULU