Naval Variant of India’s Tejas Light Combat Aircraft Conducts Maiden Landing on Aircraft Carrier INS Vikramaditya

The naval variant of India’s HAL Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) has conducted its maiden landing onboard the Indian Navy’s sole operational aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya.

The first landing took place at 10:02 hours on Jan. 11 with Commodore Jaideep Maolankar piloting the aircraft. Captain Dahiya was the Landing Safety Officer (LSO) and Cdr Vivek Pandey Test Director on the carrier whereas Gr. Capt. Kabadwal and Cdr Ankur Jain were monitoring the aircraft through telemetry from the mainland.

“With this feat, the indigenously developed niche technologies specific to deck based fighter operations have been proven, which will now pave the way to develop and manufacture the Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter [TEDBF] for the Indian Navy”, said an Indian Navy statement.

The TEDBF is a proposed twin-engine carrier-borne fighter aircraft that can meet the requirements of the Navy. It is reported to be based on Tejas single-engine aircraft.

Prior to the carrier landing, the LCA Navy aircraft completed extensive trials at the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) at INS Hansa, an Indian naval air station located near Dabolim in Goa, according to a statement from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). SBTF was originally used to train and certify Indian Navy Mikoyan MiG-29K fighter pilots for INS Vikramaditya and was later used for the developmental trials of the naval HAL Tejas.

The naval variant has conducted its maiden flight with tailhook attached in July, 2018, and conducted its maiden taxi-in engagement to prove its arrestor hook system next month. On Sept. 13, 2018, the aircraft conducted its maiden arrested landing at the SBTF and the maiden night time arrested landing was performed at the same facility on Nov. 12.

The LCA Navy is India’s first indigenous effort to build a carrier-borne fighter aircraft. The aircraft is the carrier-borne variant of the HAL Tejas single-engine, delta wing, multirole light fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The naval variant has strengthened airframe and landing gear, and a drooping nose for better cockpit vision during taking-offs and landings on carriers. Naval Tejas prototypes, NP1 & NP2 are powered by General Electric F404-GE-F2J3 afterburning turbofan engines and are being used for initial testing purposes.

INS Vikramaditya (R33)
INS Vikramaditya (R33), a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier which entered into service with the Indian Navy in 2013.

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