The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Navy program has a series of important flight tests lined up for next year. The prototype of the LCA Navy will carry out high speed arrestor hook system trials early next year.

by Hemanth CS

The LCA Navy program was rejuvenated a few months ago when the aircraft prototype executed the first contact of the arrestor hook system with arresting wire at moderate taxi-in speeds on location at the Shore Based Test Facility, INS Hansa Goa. (The arrestor hook on the aircraft, coupled with the elastic arresting wire on the aircraft carrier, help the jet land on a very short stretch).

“The same trials with the arrestor hook system with arresting wire at high taxi-in speeds will be carried out next year,” said sources in the Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), which is the nodal agency for the LCA program.

The aircraft will also make a landing on the Shore Based Test Facility, which has been built to replicate an aircraft carrier with ski-jump for take-off and arresting gear for aircraft recovery.

Tessy Thomas, director general, DRDO’s Aeronautical Systems cluster speaking at the Symposium on Applied Aerodynamics and Design of Aerospace Vehicles on Thursday said that the LCA Navy program has been showing a lot of promise after they executed the first contact of the arrestor hook system with Arresting wire in August.

This milestone was significant as it enabled India to join a select club of nations for having the capability of deck landing of fighter aircraft. US, Europe, Russia and China have that same capability.

The last few months have been a rebirth of sorts for the LCA Navy program as the aircraft which was grounded for over a year has once again not only got airborne but also carried out important tests to prove it that it is meeting the carrier capability requirements of the Indian Navy.

The LCA Naval program commenced in 2003. The first flight of the first prototype (NP-1) was in 2012; NP-2’s maiden flight happened in 2015.