SOURCE: PARESH NAIK / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Admiral Sunil Lanba Speaking to the media again has repeated his previous statement where he asserted that the Naval version of the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) does not meet the qualitative requirements of the Indian Navy.
Naval LCA which is based on the IAF’s MK1 LCA-Tejas air-frame design was always meant to be tech demonstrator for a new upcoming deck-based fighter aircraft due to which ADA was commissioned to develop MK-2 aircraft with more powerful engines along with more advanced avionics and systems which will make it a truly a carrier-based aircraft which can patrol the skies of Indian ocean.
MK-2 which has been upgraded to as a Medium category class aircraft based on the IAF’s requirement will be similar to Mirage-2000 in performance and size and could be great carrier-based aircraft for Indian Navy to operate for its aircraft carrier. Naval MK-2 which is still on drawing board is yet to finalized but the drift of Navy already has begun towards acquiring 57 fighter jets from International vendor where aircraft like Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet, Saab’s Gripen, the Russian MiG-29K and Dassault’s Rafale is competing.
Naval MK-2 has been abandoned even before the program could lift off and this could come as serious bottleneck if the process to acquire 57 carrier-based fighter jets fails to take off in future. Indian Navy presently has only one aircraft carrier operationalized and Second indigenously developed aircraft carrier will enter Sea trials only in 2020 and will take around 2-3 years more for it to become operational which can lead to a situation where Two aircraft carriers will depend on the entire fleet of MiG-29K which are suffering from poor serviceability of less than 40%.
If Indian Navy had backed Naval MK-2 program a viable carrier-based fighter jet could have been developed and certified by 2025 which could come as a great boost to the local fighter aircraft manufacturing units in the country and great stepping stone for the development of Stealth 5th generation carrier-based fighter aircraft for the second aircraft carrier.
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