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SOURCE: VISHAL KARPE / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

Indian Navy asked for feasibility report to convert AMCA into a carrier-based fighter jet and according to ADA the nodal design agency for all the fighter jet programs in India it was positive that it can be done but according to many defense analysts both agreed to not to develop a Naval variant of AMCA due to numerous technical issues which can crop up in conversion of airforce variant into a naval variant.

LCA-Navy Mk1 seems to be a learning experience that both ADA and Navy relied on to avoid repeating the same mistakes. It is also recorded fact that airforce to navy conversion is much harder than the vice versa. Su-33 and Mig-29K which were developed from their Air force version still have a long list of issues that simply can’t be fixed and even F-35C stealth fighter developed by the united states for its Navy has many technical issues that limit its performance against F-35A which is its air force version.

According to the US state department, F-35C can only fly at Mach 1.3 in afterburner for 50 cumulative seconds due to which capability to do the high-speed mission is reduced and full envelope of the fighter aircraft can’t be achieved even though fixes will be applied over the years. Since each landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier is a controlled crash, F-35C after each landing loses some level of stealth coating after each high-stress landing due to which horizontal tail and the tail boom are losing their coating faster than the air force variant.

While many of the performance issues will be fixed in due course of time but the fact remains is that F-35C will never be able to cover its full operational envelope like its sibling from the airforce due to technical issues that will keep cropping. Only successful carrier-based modern fighter jets are Rafale M and F-18 Hornet and Super hornet which were specially developed for carrier-based operations and the airforce variant was developed from the Naval variant due to which transaction was much easier.

Proposal of ADA to first develop a 4.5th generation Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) before it starts work on the 5th generation design of a new Navy variant seems to suggest that a more approachable development method has been planned out. ADA will develop TEDBF so that it can develop a clean sheet 5th generation carrier-based fighter jet for the Navy at the later stage. experience and technical know how developed in the development of TEDBF will also further come handy in the development of the TEDBF which will borrow from the LCA-Mk1/MWF program and later its successor from the AMCA program.

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