A prototype of the naval version of the light combat Tejas aircraft landed and took off from the country’s sole aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya in a significant step towards India developing its own deck-based fighters.
A prototype of a naval version of India’s Tejas light combat aircraft performed an arrested landing on board the carrier Vikramaditya in the Arabian Sea, the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation announced on Twitter.
“After completing extensive trials on the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF), Naval version of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) did a successful arrested landing on board INS Vikramaditya at 1002 hrs today,” DRDO said in a press release.
— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) January 11, 2020
India’s defense minister took to Twitter to hail the step forward in India’s goal of developing more of its fighter technology in the country.
“Extremely happy to learn of the maiden landing of DRDO developed LCA Navy on INS Vikramaditya,” Rajnath Singh tweeted. “This successful landing is a great event in the history of Indian Fighter aircraft development programme.”
Extremely happy to learn of the maiden landing of DRDO developed LCA Navy on INS Vikramaditya.
This successful landing is a great event in the history of Indian Fighter aircraft development programme.
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) January 11, 2020
The Naval Tejas prototype is not expected to go into production since it is a technology demonstrator.
A larger deck-based fighter jet based on the Tejas is being evaluated by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
In September last year, the naval variant of the homemade Tejas became the first aircraft in India to successfully perform an “arrested landing”. In about two seconds, the Tejas-N decelerated from 244 kmph to standstill by snagging the wire on the test runway with the hook attached to the jet’s fuselage.
It took just 87 metres for the jet to come to full halt during the test at the Goa’s Shore-Based Test Facility. This was what the Tejas-N needed to replicate out at sea when it landed on the deck of INS Vikramaditya.
One of the major technical concerns that could impact the development of the LCA-N was that the arrestor gear on INS Vikramaditya has key design differences from the gear installed at the test facility in Goa.
The Indian Air Force has already inducted a batch of Tejas aircraft. Initially, the IAF had placed an order with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for 40 Tejas aircraft. In 2018, the IAF issued the request for proposal (RFP) to HAL for the procurement of another batch of 83 Tejas at a cost of over Rs 50,000 crore.
While the Tejas is a single-engine fighter, the Navy is looking to develop a twin-egine carrier-based fighter to field in the 2030s.
The Indian Navy has an ongoing competition for 57 carrier-based fighters, with Boeing’s F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet being among the competitors.