India rolls out indigenous naval combat plane

Bangalore, July 6 (Calcutta Tube) India’s first indigenously built naval Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) rolled out here Tuesday. The first flight is scheduled by year-end and the plane will be inducted in 2015.

The plane was brought out of the hangar at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) facility in Bangalore with Defence Minister A.K. Antony witnessing an ‘important milestone’, a defence ministry official said.

The two-seat naval trainer (NP-1) will now undergo extensive systems integration tests, ground runs and taxi trials before its first flight later this year.

Another variant of the aircraft, NP-2, a single-seat fighter, will roll out next year. The LCA is crucial to the Indian Navy’s plan to deploy two carrier battle groups (CBGs) by 2015.

The government had sanctioned the LCA (Navy) programme in 2003 and the first stage of development included design and fabrication of the trainer and the fighter along with a Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) at Goa naval air base, which has already started.

The test facility is being used to simulate carrier take off and arrested landing and as a training facility for future pilots of the naval LCA.

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