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SOURCE: RAUNAK KUNDE / NEWS BEAT / IDRW.ORG.

IMAGE COPYRIGHT @ SANJAY SIMMHA

Commodore J A Maolankar (Chief Test Pilot) in the LCA-Navy Program has retired from the Indian Navy recently which he announced on the Twitter handle, of his decision to put his papers. Commodore Maolankar who headed the Naval test flight unit and was later deputed to the Naval LCA Program from its inception and was first Naval pilot who also flew air force variant as a test pilot in its certification process for the air force . He saw many first for the NP-1 and NP-2, two prototypes that were developed by the ADA as Technological demonstrator for the previously conceived single-engined LCA Mk2 program that has later was rejected for the Twin engined TEDBF program.

Commodore Maolankar finds himself in the coveted company of Naval Aviators that have contributed immensely to the growth of the Indian Naval Aviation in the last 6 decades. Commodore Maolankar was the first Indian pilot to land Indian made fighter jet on an aircraft carrier when he landed his Naval LCA NP-2 last year on the INS Vikramaditya and also took off later in the day from the aircraft carrier.

Commodore Maolankar performed nearly 6 takeoffs and landings in a short span of few days from the INS Vikramaditya, thus validating many of the technologies that will come in handy in the development of the TEDBF program. Commodore Maolankar also assisted in developing many of the technologies that allowed both NP-1 and NP-2 to be perfected from the Indian Navy’s Shore Based Test Facility (?SBTF) before actual proof of concept was demonstrated from the aircraft carrier.

Commodore Maolankar retiring at this juncture might not affect the TEDBF program directly but his expertise will be missed since the first flight of the TEDBF is supposed to commence from 2026 onwards. Data collected from the test flight of the NP-1 and NP-2 from SBTF and INS Vikramaditya will come a long way in the development of the TEDBF fighter jets in a shorter and much safer way and also reduce risks to the next bread of naval test pilots that will be joining the program, thanks to the immense trial and error data that were collected from the Naval-LCA program over the years thanks to people like Commodore Maolankar, who risked their life to lay foundation for the development of carrier capable fighter jet, that very few around the world have achieved .

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