Despite the Navy junking the aircraft carrier version of the home-grown Light Combat Aircraft, the DRDO would continue working on the plane to develop it into a naval variant of the indigenous fifth-generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).
In a setback to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India programme in defence sector, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba had on Friday announced that naval LCA did not meet his force’s requirements and it would look for a foreign-made plane.
“Despite the Navy junking our project, we would go ahead with developing the Naval LCA as a technology demonstrator. We will use the experience and learning for developing it into a fifthgeneration fighter plane,” DRDO officials told Mail Today.
The DRDO is already working on the proposed Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft which will have the capabilities and strength of a fifth generation fighter and we would develop a naval variant of the plane using the experience of working on Naval LCA, they said.
NAVY TO SCOUT GLOBAL MARKETS
The Navy has been given permission by the Defence Ministry to scout global markets for an aircraft carrier-based fighter aircraft for its future requirements. The Naval LCA made its maiden flight in April 2012 and two prototypes are currently undergoing flying as part of the development.
The DRDO and Navy have also created a ‘Shore-based Test Facility’ for the development of the Naval LCA at the INS Hansa naval air base in Goa and the aircraft had been recently tested there.
“We will seek aircraft elsewhere which can operate on the aircraft carrier,” Lanba had announced on Friday.
THE Navy currently operates Russian MiG-29K fighters from the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and which will also fly from the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) Vikrant once it enters service.
The MiG-29Ks were procured by India with the INS Vikramaditya and it is the only country in the world to operate the aircraft. Its maker Russia also does not use it in its Navy. A second IAC weighing 65,000 tonnes is currently in the design phase and the Navy Chief said that they would soon approach the government for approval. The Navy has also, so far, promised to help DRDO in developing its fifth-generation AMCA aircraft.
The IAF was also earlier reluctant to buy the LCA but due to continuous pressure by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the Air Force agreed to buy around 80 more planes from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, making it into a success story.