LCA Navy back in the air after 2 years

By SP's Special Correspondent June 2, 2014 Photo(s): By ADA

India's first indigenous naval fighter jet for aircraft carrier operations, the LCA Navy, is back in the air and has notched up 20 flights in its log book. After its maiden flight in April 2012 and quick routine of four flights, the aircraft was grounded for a major re-design of its undercarriage with help from EADS/Airbus Group. After missing at least two test windows, the team in Bangalore was finally confident enough to get the first naval prototype NP1 back in air on March 22 for 35 minute flight in which the aircraft went supersonic for a few minutes at 1.1 Mach. The LCA Navy Mk.1 fleet of eight prospective aircraft will almost definitely be dedicated for conversion training and familiarisation of aircrew. It will be the more powerful LCA Navy Mk.II (46 on order), powered by the GE F414 turbofan engine that will actually be used for carrier-borne operations on the new Vikrant-class aircraft carrier as well as the INS Vikramaditya. The air force version of the Tejas is cruising towards final operational clearance (FOC) smoothly, completing weapons trials on three platforms at Jamnagar recently, and now commencing all weather trials at Bangalore and other locations.