In yet another milestone, the naval variant of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas has for the first time completed a cycle of launch and recovery in a single sortie essential for aircraft carrier operations at the shore-based test facility in Goa, officials said today.
"A seminal achievement was accomplished in the quest for technologies related to operation of indigenous fighter aircraft from aircraft carriers. On September 29, LCA Naval Prototype-2 launched off the ski jump at 4.21 pm and then subsequently ''trapped'' at 4.31 pm on the arresting gear site (both locations situated at Shore Based Test Facility INS Hansa, Goa), the Navy said in a statement.
While both these activities had been achieved individually earlier, this was the "first occasion" when the complete cycle of launch and recovery necessary for aircraft carrier operations was accomplished in a single sortie, it said.
In a major milestone in the development of a naval version of Tejas, the aircraft on September 13 had successfully carried out a successful maiden "arrested landing", a key performance demonstrating its ability to land on board an aircraft carrier.
An arrested landing is one in which an aircraft on course of its landing is decelerated with the help of wires from underneath while it moves on the runway.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has congratulated the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency), HAL and the Navy for this major feat, the ministry said.
Secretary, Department of Defence, R&D and Chairman DRDO G Satheesh Reddy also congratulated them for the achievement.
"Being a pioneering technology acquisition and demonstration programme for the unique Short Take-Off but Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) concept of aircraft operations, the LCA (Navy) team has had to conceptualise and experiment with complex software modes from a clean slate," the Navy said.
All this had to be done while tentatively exploring and incrementally expanding the structural capabilities of the aircraft to withstand the "brutal requirements of carrier operations," the statement said.
The exploratory nature of this stage of the programme necessitates experimentation with multiple software options and hardware configurations, it said.
"These include multiple configurations of aerodynamic surfaces, different flight control strategies, avionics tools and display symbols to ease the piloting task, multiple iterations to the ''mechanicals'' (dampers/structural members/contact points)," the statement said.
Comprehensive and seamless integration of all these experimental variants simultaneously into a single platform is therefore not possible till all options have been evaluated and the preferred configuration has been decided, the Navy said.
"The events on September 29, therefore, demonstrate the completion of the basic exploration phase of the programme and transition to refinement and improvement iterations," it added.
After the first ever "arrested landing" of the light combat aircraft recently, military officials had said, the successful test has put India among a select group of nations having capability to design a jet which can land on an aircraft carrier.