Sunday, December 21, 2014

LCA Navy Maiden Ski Jump Details & Analysis

LCA Navy NP1 moments before lift off during maiden ski-jump take-off at SBTF at INS Hansa in Goa on December 20, 2014.

LCA Navy's maiden ski jump take-off at SBTF at INS Hansa on December 20, 2014 was a milestone event, not because it happened (Ski jump take-off are as old as the Harriers!), but because it happened in hands-off automated take-off mode!

Yes, LCA Navy feature hands-off take-off using ski-jump to ensure smooth transition to stable flight, and hands-off landing with steady AOA, autothrottle approach, flareless touchdown, and arrester hook engagement. During take-off and landing the pilot is required to only give steering inputs to stay on the center line.

According to a DRDO press release on the test flight, Naval Prototype 1 (NP-1) - piloted by Commodore Jaideep Maolankar, the Chief Test Pilot of National Flight Test Center - had a perfect flight with results matching the predicted ones to the letter. The flight validated the hands-off take-off algorithm of the Flight Control Software (FCS).

NP-1 attempted the ski-jump after a 300-m roll in clean configuration presumably with full internal fuel.

A safe take-off required 150 knot at a climb rate of 6.4 degrees. But, the aircraft achieved higher acceleration with a climb rate of around 11 degrees.

In the tests ahead, NP1 will progressively reduce the length of its take-off roll and increase payload. INS Vikramaditya, which could one day base LCA Navy, has a total deck length of 273-m. The maximum take off length available is between 160-180 metres.

The ultimate goal for the LCA Navy program is to demonstrate a full load take-off with 90-m roll.

Five more ski-jump take-offs are planned in the current series of tests.

"Based on the test points achieved, we will schedule the next leg of trials," DRDO Director-General (Aero) Dr K Tamilmani told

According to Tamilmani, NP-1 will start arrester hook landing trials within 6-8 months.

It's pertinent to remember that LCA Navy is in Phase-1 of its development, which involves using a LCA Mk-1 modified to take off using a ski jump and perform arrested landing. Phase 1 is a technology development and demonstration phase.

In Phase 2, LCA Navy will be certified for carrier operations using aircraft built in the Tejas Mk2 configuration, powered by GE-414-INS6 engine with a max thrust of 22,000 lbs.

Only Phase 2 aircraft will participate in carrier operation certification, with Phase 1 aircraft being reserved exclusively for SBTF operations.

IDP Sentinel Members can read more about the LCA Navy project at the link below.

LCA Navy (IDP Sentinel)

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