Bengaluru, Feb 7: Indian Navy's dream of owning a desi fighter jet got small boost when the second Naval Prototype (NP-2) of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) successfully completed its maiden flight today.
The NP-2, a fighter, took off from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)-owned airport in Bengaluru at 12:27pm on Saturday. Navy Test Pilot Captain Shivnath Dahiya, now attached to the National Flight Test Centre (NFTC), took NP-2 for a 35-minute flight, as part of its restricted flight-test plan.
Normally, a prototype will be subjected to limited manoeuvres during the initial flights. The NP-2 had a chase aircraft in the form of a Tejas LSP2 piloted by Gp Capt Suneet Krishna (Retd), now on the rolls of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).
Deficiencies on NP-1 plugged
HAL claimed soon after the flight that the NP-2 has been free of all deficiencies that were observed on NP-1, a trainer variant. The NP-1 recently had demonstrated its capabilities from the Shore-Based Test Facility (SBTF) in Goa.
"NP-2 incorporates most avionic hardware components promised to the Indian Navy. During design and build NP-2 has been customised to incrementally accept modifications for carrier landings (from ship deck)," says an HAL spokesperson.
HAL adds that NP-2 is the lead aircraft for arrestor hook integration, Derby Beyond Visual Range missile and tactical data link. "The inclusion of NP-2 into the LCA (Navy) flight test stable is a significant milestone in the indigenous carrier-borne aircraft development programme," the spokesperson added.
Raju hails ARDC's role
HAL Chairman T Suvarna Raju said the dedicated efforts of engineers of Aircraft Research and Design Centre, a premier Division of HAL, for the complex landing gear design, which is significantly different from the IAF version, made this flight possible.
The design teams were guided by P S Subramanyam, Director, ADA, who ensured that systems meet the stringent requirements of carrier-borne aircraft. LCA (Navy) Programme Director Cmde C D Balaji (Retd) said that the NP-2 has been built with vision and foresight.
"The successful maiden flight of NP-2 is a testimony to the tremendous efforts put in by scientists and engineers to enable flight of the first LCA naval fighter. With one trainer and fighter in its stable, we can proudly state that the indigenous carrier-borne fighter programme is making headway and acquiring momentum," P S Subramaniam said.