A prototype of the naval version of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas became the first Indian-made fighter jet to land on the deck of an aircraft carrier, sources have said. The prototype successfully landed on the deck of Indiaâ€™s only operational aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, marking a big step-up in the overall LCA programme. The Naval Tejas used its tail hook to successfully snag the arrester wire, which acts as brakes to slow down and bring the fighter jet to a halt, on the deck of the aircraft carrier. An â€œarrested landingâ€ on the deck of an aircraft carrier is a feat achieved by only a handful of fighter jets developed in the US, Russia, the UK, France and, more recently, China. Sources said the prototype is also likely to take off today from the â€œski jumpâ€ â€“ a portion of the runway angled upwards â€“ on the aircraft carrierâ€™s deck. The Naval Tejas prototype is not expected to go into production since it is a technology demonstrator.
A larger deck-based fighter jet based on the Tejas is being evaluated by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). In September last year, the naval variant of the homemade Tejas became the first aircraft in India to successfully perform an â€œarrested landingâ€. In about two seconds, the Tejas-N decelerated from 244 kmph to standstill by snagging the wire on the test runway with the hook attached to the jetâ€™s fuselage. It took just 87 metres for the jet to come to full halt during the test at the Goaâ€™s Shore-Based Test Facility. This was what the Tejas-N needed to replicate out at sea when it landed on the deck of INS Vikramaditya. One of the major technical concerns that could impact the development of the LCA-N was that the arrestor gear on INS Vikramaditya has key design differences from the gear installed at the test facility in Goa.