The Light Combat Aircraft’s (LCA) naval variant landed on the deck of warship INS Hansa in Goa, said its maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). “LCA Navy (NP2) undertakes maiden taxi-in engagement to prove arrestor hook system of aircraft at sea-bed test facility Goa,” tweeted Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. “This is the first of a series of engagements planned to prove the arrestor hook capability of the combat fighter,” said HAL Chairman T. Suvarna Raju. The achievement pushes India into a select club of the US, Europe, Russia and China in having the capability of deck-landing by a fighter aircraft. “Piloted by Captain Shivnath Dahiya, the LCA naval prototype (NP-2) landed safely on the deck of INS Hansa at the naval shore-based test facility in Goa,” said state-run defence behemoth HAL. The maiden feat involved the pilot making contact of the arrester hook system with the arresting wire at moderate taxi-in speed on the location at the test facility. The first taxi-in engagement was monitored by the landing signal officer Commodore J.A. Maolankar and test director Group Captain A. Kabadwal (Retd). The city-based aerospace major’s design wing, Aircraft Research and Design Centre, developed the arrestor hook system for ship-deck operations of LCA naval version. The LCA naval prototype was integrated with the hook system and has been operating at INS Hansa since after the landing system was verified in-air operation in Bengaluru. The naval air station has a 14-degree ramp along with testing sensors and other equipment to monitor the flights. The prototype’s carrier compatibility trials are slated at shore-based test facilities, built at the Indian naval base in Goa on the West Coast. The evaluation involves shore-based trials before embarking on actual deck of an aircraft carrier like INS Vikramaditya for LCA Navy next year. State-run Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the military aircraft’s airworthiness certifying agency Cemilac and the Indian Navy worked together for the maiden deck landing. A series of trials are planned which will involve landing, refuelling and take-off from an aircraft carrier near the West Coast after a slew of ground tests at higher speeds. The single-jet engine Tejas is the smallest and lightest multirole supersonic fighter aircraft of its class. The tandem twin-seater aircraft is integrated with avionics and flight controls for ground runs and taxi trials. The naval variant can also be deployed on the second indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, being built at the Cochin Shipyard.
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