6 July : The country’s first Naval variant of Light Combat Aircraft, the LCA (Navy) Trainer Naval Project (NP) – 1 was rolled out by the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Aircraft Research and Design Centre at a glittering function in Bengaluru, today. The Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma, Secretary Defence Production Shri RK Singh, Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister Dr. VK Saraswat, Chairman, HAL Shri Ashok Nayak, Director Aeronautical Development Agency Shri PS Subramanyam were present on the occasion.
Congratulating the stakeholders in the development of the first indigenously developed carrier-bone Naval Trainer Aircraft, Shri Antony described today’s development as a ‘defining and memorable event’ for the nation. He said the prophets of doom have been silenced by a series of major breakthroughs of DRDO-led projects in recent times. He gave the examples of MBT Arjun, LCA and Akash missiles, which are now being adopted by the Forces. Shri Antony said the goal of self-reliance can be achieved by developing synergy among the scientists, the Forces and the public and private sectors.
The LCA (Navy) will form the air element of the Indian Navy. Its primary role will be that of air defence and will provide a formidable platform with a higher thrust engine and an optimised mass for suitable replacement to the ageing Sea Harriers at a later date. The only carrier-bone aircraft in the light category in the world, it will be operating with a wide variety of operational weapons and equipment like the Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile, Anti-Ship missiles, Conventional bombs, Air Defence guns, CCMs and drop tanks. The NP1 is now ready to undergo the phase of systems integration tests leading to ground runs, taxi trials and flight. The first flight of the NP1 would happen by the end of this year. The aircraft would be flying with GE-F-404-IN 20 engine and is specifically designed for ski-jump take off and arrested recovery, with high-landing loads compared to its Air Force counterpart.
The formal sanction by the Government for the Naval programme was accorded in the year 2003. The first stage of development includes design and fabrication of one Trainer and one Fighter, NP1 and NP2 respectively, along with a Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) at Goa, to simulate carrier take off and arrested landing. A complete airframe called Structural Test Specimen required for structural testing is also being and tested as part of the Programme. Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Bangalore has been responsible for the design, development, and building of the Naval version of the Light Combat Aircraft with HAL being its Principal Partner.
Technical Features of the Aircraft
Ø The LCA will operate from an Aircraft Carrier with a concept of Ski-jump Take off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR). Aircraft gets airborne over a ski jump in about 200 m and lands 90 m using an arrester hook engaging an arrester wire on the ship.
Ø Derived from the Air Force version it is a longitudinally unstable fly-by-wire aircraft, making it an agile war machine.
Ø Flight Control system is augmented with Leading Edge Vortex Controller (LEVCON) aiding reduction in approach speed for Carrier Landing
Ø Auto throttle function reduces pilot load by maintaining constant angle of attack during the critical phase of a flare-less carrier landing
Ø Fuel Dump System enables safe landing by reducing weight in event of an emergency landing immediately after launch from Carrier
Role of the Aircraft
Ø Air to Air
Ø Air to Sea
Ø Air to Ground
Ø Span :8.2 m
Ø Length : 13.2 m
Ø Height : 4.52m