The naval prototype of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas – also known as the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) – has become the first Indian-made fighter aircraft to land and take-off from an aircraft carrier.
The aircraft successfully landed on the deck of the INS Vikramaditya – India’s only operational aircraft carrier – during trials on January 11. The aircraft performed an arrested landing, competently catching the arrestor wire with its tail hook and bringing the Tejas to a stop. That same day, the prototype took off from the carrier using its ski-jump – an upwardly curved ramp which generates additional lift for the aircraft, enabling the aircraft to take off from a runway shorter than its normal take-off roll. The INS Vikramaditya is short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) configured, meaning that its aircraft launch under their own power and then require arrestor wires to recover to the carrier.
This marks a huge milestone for the programme and the country as it joins China, France, Russia, the UK and US in designing and operating an indigenously produced fighter jet from an aircraft carrier.
Alongside the Aircraft Research and Design Centre of HAL, the Tejas programme also involves the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC), to name just a few.
Taking to Twitter, the Indian Navy tweeted that this “landmark event demonstrates professional commitment and synergy various agencies ADA, HAL, CEMILAC and [the] Indian Navy in harnessing the potential of our scientists, engineers and naval flight testing community towards meeting the expectations of the nation”.
Additional carrier trials with the Tejas Mk1 naval prototype will continue before the type returns to the Shore Base Test Facility (GBTF), Goa, upon completition.