India's naval Tejas makes flight debut

Bangalore
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The naval variant of India's Tejas light combat aircraft made a 20min first flight from Bengaluru on 27 April.

Aircraft NP-1's debut was witnessed by officials including V K Saraswat, the head of India's state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and scientific advisor to defence minister A K Antony.

Derived from the Aeronautical Development Agency designed Tejas lightweight fighter already in limited service with the Indian air force, the naval version features a strengthened airframe structure and landing gear, plus an arrestor hook to enable its operation from aircraft carriers.

A leading-edge vortex control surface fitted at the front of the wing will allow for a reduced landing speed, while engine performance and visibility have been enhanced for embarked operations.

The first sortie was flown by National Flight Test Centre chief test pilot Air Cdre T A Maolankar, who says NP-1 behaved exactly as expected. Activities conducted included engine and handling checks, proving the new landing gear configuration and achieving a 16˚ angle of attack.

 

© DRDO

India's defence ministry has already given its clearance for the production of an initial batch of eight Tejas naval fighters, with these to be completed by Hindustan Aeronautics. Early examples will use a General Electric F404 engine, but there are plans to later use a more powerful design.