Bengaluru: Indian Navy’s Light Combat Aircraft (NLCA) undertook its maiden carrier landing on the deck of the mighty INS Vikramaditya successfully, scripting history.
Naval sources confirmed to Onmanorama that the NP-2 (naval prototype-2) from the NLCA flight-line made an arrested-landing at 10:02 am on Saturday.
The flight was piloted by Cmde J A Maolankar, Chief Test Pilot with National Flight Test Centre (NFTC) in Bengaluru.
The other flight crew members were Capt Shivnath Dahiya, Cdr J D Raturi and Cdr Ankur Jain.
As reported by Onmanorma earlier, the pilots have completed close to 30 arrested landings and more than 50 ski-jumps at SBTF ahead of approaching the aircraft carrier.
As this report went live, the crew was preparing NLCA for the next big task of a ski-jump take-off from INS Vikramaditya.
“The aircraft is on the ship now. It is going through checks before doing maiden ski-jump take off from the ship. Most likely, we are attempting to undertake the mission today itself. Have to be extra careful before maiden ski-jump. Subsequently we can do much quicker take-offs,” an official told Onmanorama.
Key Milestone: Navy
Indian Navy said the NLCA achieved an important milestone with the successful arrested landing on board the INS Vikramaditya.
“With this feat, the indigenously developed niche technologies specific to deck based fighter operations have been proven, which will now pave the way to develop and manufacture the twin-engine deck-based fighter for the Indian Navy,” said an official tweet.
Navy has been studying all the data of NLCA trials before giving the go-ahead to the team to undertake deck-landing on the ship.
Various teams from Aeronautical Development Agency, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Indian Navy and NFTC have been campaigning in Goa ahead of the crucial deck-landing mission.
India 6th nation to achieve the feat
INS Vikramaditya has been sailing between Karwar and Goa during the historic mission of NLCA, sources said.
India became the sixth nation after Russia, United States, France, United Kingdom and China to have mastered arrested landing and ski-jump take-off on the deck of a carrier.
Arrested landing deploys a cable on the carrier before the aircraft is about to land. While landing, the aircraft will deploy an arrester hook, which in turn will get attached to the cable. This will arrest or bring the aircraft to a halt within the available short distance on the carrier (about 95 m).
In ski-jump, the aircraft takes-off using the assistance of a curved ramp sloped upward. Here the aircraft achieves the required upward lift despite short runway and gains speed in air.
“This is great news! Cmde Maolankar and the whole ADA team have made us proud by proving the NLCA on a carrier’s deck. The navy’s 25-year old dream has come true & its faith in ADA justified,” tweeted former Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash (Retd).
(The writer is an independent aerospace and defence journalist, who blogs at Tarmak007 and tweets @writetake.)