Light Combat Aircraft Tejas

The Indian Navy’s first indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas, has completed its maiden flight in Bangalore, India.

During the 22 minute test-flight, the aircraft conducted various manoeuvres including low speed handling and also performed close formation flying at slow speed with another aircraft.

Designated as NP1, the LCA has previously undergone various intensive Ground testing regimens, which include low speed taxi trials, high speed taxi trials, ground vibration test and a structural coupling test.

NP1 will be equipped with a wide range of operational weapons including beyond visual range missiles, anti-ship missiles, conventional bombs, air defence guns, conventional cruise missiles and drop tanks.

Powered by GE F414 engine, the new indigenous single-seat single-engine combat aircraft has been designed for Ski-jump Take Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) operations.

The high-agility supersonic carrier-borne combat aircraft will receive its final operational clearance approvals in the next three to four years for operational use by the Indian Navy.

Designed by DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Agency in Bangalore, India, the LCA is being built by HAL for the Indian Air Force as well.

The Indian Navy placed an order for six aircraft in 2009 for $31.09m per aircraft, and the naval variant is expected to undergo carrier trials by 2013.

The first stages of the LCA Navy programme includes the design and manufacture of one trainer NP1 and one fighter NP2 aircraft along with a shore-based test facility (SBTF) in Goa to simulate carrier take-off and arrested landing of the aircraft.

Image: The Light Combat Aircraft Tejas performing an inverted pass over Yelahanka Air Force base during an Airshow. Photo: Premshree Pillai.