Naval LCA at striking distance for deck operations from INS Vikramaditya
The naval variant of home-grown Light Combat Aircraft (NLCA) is at a striking distance from undertaking the much-awaited, maiden carrier landing and taking off on board INS Vikramaditya. The Indian Navy is currently studying all the data before giving the go-ahead to the team to undertake deck landing on the mighty aircraft carrier.
According to military sources who are part of this ‘extremely complex’ mission, the ‘Test Pilots’ who are part of NLCA’s campaign in Goa have made several approaches to INS Vikramaditya in the last one month. This was part of the team’s (ADA, HAL, NFTC & Indian Navy) campaign from the Shore-Based Test Facility (SBTF) in Goa.
(SBTF simulates an aircraft carrier with ski-jump and arrested recovery facilities. It’s a recreation of a ship on the shore. The SBTF in Goa replicates a static model of the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (INS Vikrant) being built at the Cochin Shipyard in Kerala.)
“NLCA has done quite a few wave-offs at INS Vikramaditya near Karwar shore to assess the winds and deck effects for carrier landing. We are only waiting for the go-ahead from the Indian Navy that will enable the aircraft to land on the carrier. The ‘Test Pilots’ are confident now and they have done a marvellous job,” says an official.
Once NLCA lands and takes off from INS Vikramaditya, India will become the sixth nation after Russia, United States, France, United Kingdom and China to have mastered the art of an arrested landing and ski-jump take-off on the deck of a carrier.
(Arrested landing deploys a cable on the carrier before the aircraft is about to land. While landing, the aircraft will deploy an arrester hook, which in turn will get attached to the cable. This will arrest or bring the aircraft to a halt within the available short distance on the carrier (about 95 m). In ski-jump, the aircraft takes off using the assistance of a curved ramp sloped upward. Here the aircraft achieves the required upward lift despite short runway and gains speed in air.)
The Flight Test team includes Commodore J A Maolankar, Capt Shivnath Dahiya, Commodore J D Raturi and Cdr Ankur Jain. The pilots have completed close to 30 arrested landings and more than 50 ski-jumps at SBTF ahead of approaching the aircraft carrier.