WASHINGTON — The Indian Navy hit a major milestone in its quest for a homegrown aircraft carrier-based fighter aircraft, the military’s research and development wing announced Saturday.
A prototype of a naval version of India’s Tejas light combat aircraft performed an arrested landing on board the carrier Vikramaditya in the Arabian Sea, the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation announced on Twitter.
“After completing extensive trials on the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF), Naval version of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) did a successful arrested landing onboard INS Vikramaditya at 1002 hrs today,” DRDO said in a news release.
India’s defense minister took to Twitter to hail the step forward in the country’s goal of developing more of its fighter technology in country.
“Extremely happy to learn of the maiden landing of DRDO developed LCA Navy on INS Vikramaditya,” Rajnath Singh tweeted. “This successful landing is a great event in the history of Indian Fighter aircraft development programme.”
While the Tejas is a single-engine fighter, the Navy is looking to develop a twin-engine carrier-based fighter to field in the 2030s.
The service has an ongoing competition for 57 carrier-based fighters, with Boeing’s F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet among the competitors.
The Navy operates the MiG-29K Fulcrum, but has been generally unhappy with its ability to stand up to the rigors of carrier-based aviation, Defense News reported in 2017.
“We (Indian Navy) want the MiG-29K aircraft to be ruggedized to carry out operations because landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier is almost like a hard landing and the fighter aircraft needs frequent maintenance,” a Navy official told Defense News. “There are frequent structural defects due to deck landing.”
However, Anastasia Kravchenkov, a representative of Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG, said in official correspondence: “Neither we, nor our partners have received any official claims about operational problems with the Russian MiG aircrafts.”
The Indian Navy has made subsequent statements that it worked out maintenance and spare parts problems.
The MiG-29K is among the competitors for India’s ongoing competition, along with Saab, which is pitching joint development of a Sea Gripen. Dassault is reportedly offering its Rafale M fighter.
Vivek Raghuvanshi contributed to this report.
David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.