Just days before the second anniversary of its maiden flight the naval variant of the Light Combat Aircraft-LCA Navy (NP-1) has successfully completed its first super sonic flight signaling that the aircraft is now able to fly faster than the speed of sound.
The Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) the nodal agency for the development of the LCA said that this feat was achieved in the month of March.
The NP-1 during the flight is said to have crossed the Mach 1 barrier.
An aircraft is classified as a supersonic aircraft when it is able to clock Mach1 speed.
Sources told dna that the aircraft flew at a specified altitude and went supersonic touching 1.1 Mach speed.
This milestone is considered significant as the LCA Navy programme since it made its maiden flight on April 27, 2012 had made little progress. In next one year after its first flight the NP-1 made just four test sorties.
The NP-1 which is the sole prototype build under the LCA Navy programme by the ADA has been bogged down with a few problems and had to undergo a few modifications with regard to the landing gear and a
few other systems to meet the ski jump requirement. The LCA Navy is being developed to operate from an aircraft carrier with a concept of ski-jump take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR).
The aircraft to prove that it is fit for carrier-borne operations it would be subjected to ski-jump launch and arresting recovery tests at the naval air station in Goa.
Meanwhile, air force version of the LCA which is known as Tejas has already flown several sorties covering a flight envelope at supersonic speeds. ADA says that the aircraft can attain maximum supersonic speed at all altitudes. The aircraft can attain a maximum speed of Mach 1.8.
Compared to its Air Force counterpart, the LCA is different as it has a new stronger and longer landing gear, arrestor hook for ship deck landing, front fuselage drooped for better over the nose vision to
facilitate ship landing, an additional control surface to reduce ship landing speed and consequential changes in various systems. The NP1 aircraft would be flying with the GE-F404-IN20 engine.
The LCA will replace the depleting Sea Harrier squadron and operate along the MiG29 K's by 2014 from the Indigenous Air Craft Carrier which is being constructed at Kochi.The outgoing Government has
already sanctioned limited series production of the LCA Navy under which eight aircraft would be developed.