Bangalore:  The maiden flight of the naval variant of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was carried out successfully on Friday at HAL Airport here.

The flight of the first prototype of the LCA Naval variant NP-1 (naval prototype-1) lasted for about 20 minutes within the designated flight envelope, according to a Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) release.

The test flight was carried out with landing gear extended as a routine practice during the maiden flight. With this successful flight test, the LCA development programme has crossed another major milestone.

The LCA (NP-1) was piloted by Come T A Maolankar, chief test pilot and co-piloted by Wg Cdr M Prabhu, flight test engineer of NFTC.

The development plan of the Naval version envisages building of two prototypes --  a two seat trainer (NP-1) and a single seat fighter (NP-2) -- as technology demonstrators to carry out carrier suitability certification and weapons integration.

The aircraft is specifically designed for take off from a 14-degree ramp on the carrier deck and use the Arrester Hook System to facilitate landing within the deck length of 90 m.

The event was witnessed by top dignitaries, including V K Saraswat, Scientific Advisor & DG (DRDO), Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Satish Soni, Commandant Air Force Training Command Air Marshal Rajinder Singh, HAL Chairman R K Tyagi, Programme Director (CA) & Director ADA P S Subramanyan, Project Director of LCA Navy, Cmde (Retd) C D Balaji and Dr K Tamilmani of CEMILAC.

(Agencies)