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India Successfully Tests Technology Enabling Deck Landing of Fighter Aircraft

© Wikipedia / Indian NavyMikoyan MiG-29K of the Indian Navy in flight over Indian islands
Mikoyan MiG-29K of the Indian Navy in flight over Indian islands - Sputnik International
India has claimed it will soon start carrier compatibility trials before the home-grown LCA prototype touches down on the deck of the Navy's aircraft carrier.

New Delhi (Sputnik): India has joined the select club of countries that have the capability of landing fighter aircraft after the home-grown light combat aircraft (LCA) project crossed a major milestone on Thursday, with the successful execution of the hook-wire system which slows down the fighter jet to allow it to smoothly land on aircraft carriers.

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The LCA Naval Prototype 2 safely executed the first contact of the arrestor hook system with arresting wire at moderate taxiing speeds on location at the Shore Based Test Facility, INS Hansa in Goa, according to state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) that designed and developed the aircraft.  

"This is the first of a series of engagement planned at proving the arrestor hook capability," T Suvarna Raju, CMD-HAL said in a statement.

The LCA touched a speed of approximately 60 knots before it was brought to a quick halt through the hook-wire combination.

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Meanwhile, the fighter jet, which was once considered as a dead project after the Indian Navy rejected it in 2016, is expected to successfully demonstrate the 'touch-and-go' landings by the end of this year. This would ensure the ability of the jet to operate safely off the deck of India's only operational aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. 

HAL hopes that the two LCA-Navy prototypes will begin flight-tests such as landing, refueling and taking off by the end of 2019.

"Carrier Compatibility trials (CCT) of the naval aircraft are slated to be carried out at shore-based test facilities, built at Indian Naval Base Goa. The CCT involves completion of extensive shore-based trials before embarking on actual deck. This trial is the stepping stone towards completion of CCT trials of LCA Navy," HAL said in a statement.

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The Air Force variant of the LCA has been named Tejas and is already operational. The air force has placed a requirement of an additional 83 Tejas.

The present air variant is capable of undertaking air defense operations and conventional ground attack with heavy bombs. But, the naval version of the LCA had received a major setback when in December 2016, Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba had rejected the jet in the form it was at that time.

The Navy then issued a request for information to buy 57 new fighters to supplement the Russian-built MiG-29Ks that it presently operates.

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