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

The naval variant of the home-made Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas successfully performed an “arrested landing” at the Goa’s Shore-Based Test Facility, which will clear its path for demonstration of same capabilities onboard India’s only operational aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya.

High ranking officials of the Indian Navy are happy with the progress the same team is making towards its milestone but it remains non-committal for placing orders for the jet. LCA-N prototypes used for demonstration of the capabilities will not enter production but it will be stepping stone for the development of NLCA Mk2 which was unveiled at Aero India 2019 earlier this year.

NLCA Mk2 comes with several improved features compared to the LCA-N Mk1 prototypes. Mk2 has better internal fuel and weapons carrying capabilities for carrier-borne operations and also comes with enhanced mission performance and has better maintainability at high seas. Mk2 due to near frame-less canopy design will provide excellent cockpit visibility for landing on moving aircraft carrier and will be powered by GE-F414-IN Engines generating 98kN class of thrust for easy takeoffs with decent payloads from aircraft carrier even with heavy crosswinds.

NLCA Mk2 is a totally separate program from IAF’s MWF-Tejas Mk2 program and has been designed ground up as combat jet designed for aircraft carrier operations. According to ADA, the first prototype of NLCA Mk2 will come before MWF-Tejas Mk2 by 2021-22 and ADA expects it will have a production run of over 50-60 aircraft from the Indian Navy which is closely monitoring the program but is yet to commit any orders for the program in principle.

While IAF’s MWF-Tejas Mk2 will be developed as Medium class Multi-role fighter jet to replace the bulk of Mig-29 and Mirage-2000 fleet from 2030 onwards. ADA is also planning to pitch derivative of NLCA Mk2 to IAF which could be optimized for Ground strike missions after carrying out necessary changes to the aircraft.

ADA also has been pitching the use of LCA-N Mk1 Trainer variant has a Lead-in fighter training (LIFT) aircraft to train all its Newbie Naval aviators after passing out from Bae Hawk 132 AJTs in their training programs. Indian Navy has shown key interest in the N-AMCA program for which feasibility studies have been done by the ADA to convert IAF’s AMCA design into a carrier-borne 5th generation fighter jet, ADA believes that NLCA Mk2 program is necessary to act as a stepping stone before N-AMCA is developed.

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