INDIAN NAVY BACKS NAVAL LCA-ORDERS SIX LCAs
By Bulbul Singh
24 Sep 09. India’s homegrown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Naval version program recently got a big push as the Indian Navy has decided to place a formal order for six naval version LCA’s for over $35m each.
Though the Indian Air Force had given orders for 40 LCA the Indian Navy had so far not committed to the project through formal orders, putting a question mark on the program.
The overall cost of the LCA (Navy) program is being shared by India’s
defense research agency, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)and the Indian Navy.
The Indian Navy plans to supplement the naval LCA with the Russian MiG 29-K, sixteen of which were ordered from Russia at a cost of over $660m in 2005. The naval LCA will be used on the homebuilt Air Defence Ship expected to join the Indian Navy in 2014-15.
A senior Indian Navy official said the order for six LCAs has been given after being satisfied that the naval LCA is designed according to Indian Navy needs.
The LCA Navy version is required to operate from an aircraft carrier with ski-jump take-off and arrested recovery. The naval version has been designed with structural and landing gear modifications to the existing Air Force version to cater for larger loads and landing gear and arrested recovery.
The Indian Navy official said changes will be made to the landing gear design and related structural configuration to the existing design which will include aerodynamic fixes to improve take-off and landing performance on the aircraft carrier.
The DRDO is seeking overseas consultants to make changes in design and structure in tune with Indian Navy needs.
The Indian Navy official said, ”There are no major defects in the design and structure of the naval LCA. Some minor defects relating to control of the aircraft after the ski-jump have been resolved with a higher thrust engine, the aircraft can now been stopped after landing within the desired 200-300 feet with arrester wires. A special undercarriage and an arrester hook have also been designed by the Indian team at the Bangalore Aeronautical Development Agency in Bangalore, were designed by an ADA team led by a naval engineer, and successfully tested.
In fact, the design of the air defence ship has also been changed slightly to accommodate the naval LCA, which demonstrates the full backing of the Indian Navy towards the Naval version of the LCA.
The LCA‘s naval version is a small light-weight, tail-less multi-role, supersonic fighter aircraft. The first Naval prototype is currently being built by Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and is scheduled for integration tests and first flight towards end of this year.
A senior Indian defence ministry official said, ”The development
of LCA is a major step forward in India’s effort to be self-sufficient in production of weapons.”