India is preparing for the first flight of its second prototype of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), the much delayed indigenous multirole fighter. The first prototype flew in January last year, five years late.

Washington DC's waiver of sanctions imposed after India's May 1998 nuclear tests is expected to speed up deliveries of much-needed US-sourced components including General Electric F404 engines. An Indian engine, the Kaveri, is being developed, but will not be ready until 2006 at the earliest.

Despite the easing of sanctions, the Indian Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) still failed to meet the scheduled first flight date of the second aircraft last month. LCA project director Dr Kota Harinarayana says the aircraft will fly by the end of this month, with the third LCA due to fly in June or July.

Meanwhile, ADE's parent, the Defence Research and Development Organisation, has developed a maritime radar for helicopters and small vessels. Dr VK Aatre, Indian defence ministry scientific adviser, says the radar has completed the design and development stage and will be ready for field trials within the next few months.

A likely application is the Hindustan Aeronautics Advanced Light Helicopter. The Indian navy has a requirement for 40 ALHs, some of which will be equipped for maritime roles, while the rest will be utility machines.

Source: Flight International