The naval variant of India’s Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) has conducted its maiden flight with tailhook attached.
The second prototype of the Naval Tejas, NP-2 (KH3002), made the flight from Indian naval air station, INS Hansa, located near Dabolim in Goa.
The next phase of the program will be to conduct arrested landings at the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) located at INS Hansa. SBTF was earlier used to train and certify Indian Navy Mikoyan MiG-29K fighter pilots for the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, and is now used for the developmental trials of the naval HAL Tejas.
This new development possibly denotes the restart of the Naval LCA program. In December 2016, the Indian Navy announced that the Tejas fighter is overweight, and they will look for other alternatives. The Indian Navy eventually issued an RFI for 57 naval multirole fighters.
The LCA Navy is India’s first indigenous effort to build a carrier borne fighter aircraft. The naval variant has strengthened airframe and landing gear and a drooped nose for better cockpit vision during taking-offs and landings.
Naval Tejas prototypes, NP1 & NP2 are powered by General Electric F404-GE-F2J3 afterburning turbofan engines and are used for initial testing purposes. They successfully completed testing in Goa during which the short take off (200 meter) from SBTF were carried out along with hot refueling. The combat aircraft prototype is yet to conduct its flight test from an aircraft carrier. The testing from aircraft carrier will most probably only done after conducting arrested landing trials at the SBTF.
NP-1 made its first flight on 27 April 2012 while NP-2 made its maiden flight on 7 February 2015.