The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Naval Trainer Prototype 'NP5' successfully completed its maiden flight on Friday, announced the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).
The inaugural flight took place at the HAL airport and was piloted by Capt Amit Kawade (IN) with Wg Cdr Siddarth Singh (Retd) in the rear cockpit.
Earlier in February 2023, the Naval-LCA successfully landed on the deck of INS Vikrant as part of its aviation trials.
The Naval-LCA also demonstrated its capabilities through 18 arrested landings and Ski-Jump take-offs from INS Vikramaditya in January 2020, including hot refueling capabilities.
Back in 2018, the Indian Navy expressed its desire to see the Naval-LCA operate from the INS Vikrant's deck, but later decided to opt for a foreign-made jet in the short term, while focusing on developing the Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) for the future.
According to the statement by ADA, the Naval-LCA took-off at 14:20 hours, and remained airborne for 57 minutes, displaying normal parameters throughout the flight.
The Naval-LCA is a collaborative effort between the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The inclusion of the NP5 into Naval-LCA prototype fleet will also help in expediting development activities of the TEDBF, the ADA statement said adding that it will help in training of Indian Navy pilots for operations from aircraft carriers.
"Addition of NP5 aircraft to LCA Navy prototype fleet will accelerate flight testing activities and provide designers vital inputs towards design/develp of TEDBF. It will also serve as a training platform for Navy pilots for ops from aircraft carriers," ADA said.
The newly introduced prototype NP5 will undergo field and carrier operations from both the Indian Navy's aircraft carriers — INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant.
ADA said that the NP5 is a production-ready version of the aircraft, and includes all the improvements identified during the testing of NP1 and NP2.
The aircraft features the production standard airframe, rainwater compliance, maintainability enhancements, and advancements in futuristic systems.
The aircraft successfully completed all planned test points, said Capt Amit Kawade adding that the aircraft displayed exceptional handling qualities.
The Director General of ADA, who witnessed the inaugural flight, applauded the collaborative efforts of ADA, HAL, CEMILAC (Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification), DGAQA (Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance), and various other governmental and private entities.
The NP1 trainer prototype had its first flight on April 27, 2012, while the NP2 fighter prototype took flight on February 7, 2015.
Both Naval Prototypes have achieved significant milestones such as ski jump take-offs and arrested landing demonstrations on the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) at Dabolim Airport, Goa, and operations from indigenous aircraft carriers.
According to a report by Livefist, the Indian Navy is also mulling to buy a small number of 12 to 15 Naval-LCAs for training its pilots.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.