Naval variant of LCA lands first time on aircraft carrier INS Vikrant; ‘Historical milestone’, says Navy

New Delhi, 6 Feb: A prototype of the Naval variant of the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) on Monday undertook its maiden landing on board aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, in a feat described by the Indian Navy as a ‘historical milestone’ for India’s self-reliance in defence manufacturing.
Separately, the Russian-origin MiG-29K aircraft also undertook a maiden landing on board INS Vikrant, the country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, officials said.
The successful landing and take-off of the LCA prototype from INS Vikrant is set to pave the way for the development and manufacturing of the ambitious twin-engine deck-based fighter aircraft for the Indian Navy by the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
“A historical milestone achieved towards Aatma Nirbhar Bharat by Indian Navy as naval pilots carry out landing of LCA (Navy) on board INS Vikrant,” the Navy said in a brief statement.
It said the landing demonstrated India’s capability to design, develop, construct and operate indigenous aircraft carriers with indigenous fighter aircraft.
In September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned INS Vikrant (IAC I) that made the country part of an elite group of nations capable of manufacturing aircraft carriers above 40,000 tonnes category. The Navy had said the aircraft carrier would be able to play a role in ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
“The Indian Navy takes a significant step towards operationalising the indigenous aircraft carrier by successful landing of MiG-29K on INS Vikrant by naval pilots demonstrating India’s prowess in aircraft carrier design, construction and operations while enhancing Navy’s combat readiness,” Navy Spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said.
The landing and take-off of the LCA prototype and MiG-29K aircraft came as part of flight trials on board the aircraft carrier. The Indian Navy currently operates over 40 MiG-29K jets. The air wing of INS Vikrant will be able to carry 30 MiG-29K fighter jets, according to officials.
The Navy is in the process of procuring 26 deck-based aircraft for INS Vikrant. The Navy has already narrowed down on Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and French aerospace major Dassault Aviation’s Rafale M aircraft for the procurement.
INS Vikrant has over 2,300 compartments, designed for a crew of around 1,700 people, including specialised cabins to accommodate women officers. The carrier has a top speed of around 28 knots and a cruising speed of 18 knots with an endurance of about 7,500 nautical miles. It is 262 metres long, 62 metres wide and has a height of 59 metres. Its construction began in 2009. (PTI)
The Navy said the ship is powered by four gas turbines totalling 88 MW power and has a maximum speed of 28 Knots. The IAC project has been implemented under the three phases of contract between the Ministry of Defence and Cochin Shipyard Ltd, beginning May 2007. The ship’s keel was laid in February 2009. (PTI)