The homegrown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) under development will enter a new phase next month with the launch of the plane’s fourth prototype.
The LCA prototype will fly Feb. 9-13 in the Aero India 2005 International Air Show at Bangalore, said a senior scientist with the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA). ADA is designing and developing the LCA under the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
So far, the three prototypes of the multirole, lightweight, supersonic LCA have completed a total of 300 flight hours. The third prototype, known as PV-1, made its first flight at subsonic speed last year.
The ADA scientist said that two more prototypes will be added to the LCA fleet in February.
The LCA, already behind schedule by more than 10 years, now is scheduled to be inducted into the Indian Air Force by 2007-8, the scientist said. U.S. sanctions imposed against India in 1998 virtually halted the LCA program by preventing delivery of the GE 404 engines. With those sanctions lifted, the aircraft prototypes are being fitted with the U.S.-made machine.
Meanwhile, the DRDO is developing its own Kaveri engine for the LCA. The Indian engine currently is undergoing flight trials on a Tupolev aircraft.
DRDO scientists claim that LCA is the world’s smallest lightweight, multirole aircraft that integrates modern design concepts and state-of-art technologies.