The naval variant of India's Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, called LCA Navy, made its first reported landing and take-off from aircraft carrier INS Vikrant earlier today (6 January).
INS Vikrant is 262 metres long, 62 metres wide and it has a height of 59 metres. The carrier has over 2,300 compartments, designed for a crew of around 1,700 people, including specialised cabins to accommodate women officers. It has a top speed of around 28 knots and a cruising speed of 18 knots with an endurance of about 7,500 nautical miles.
With the induction of INS Vikrant, the Navy has a two carriers in its fleet for the first time in years but not enough fighters to keep both warships operational.
It evaluated French aircraft major Dassault Aviation's Rafale-M and US-based Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet last year as it is looking to augment its dwindling fleet of fighters currently made up of the troubled Russian-origin MiG-29Ks. In 2022, the two fighters participated in trials at the shore-based test facility at INS Hansa in Goa to showcase their capabilities to take off from a ski-jump platform of the kind that Indian carriers have.
It is believed that the Indian Navy has submitted a report to the Ministry of Defence identifying Rafale M as its choice.
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