Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Top LCA-Navy Team In Russia For Talks

A high-level naval delegation from the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) – the government makers of India’s much-anticipated Light Combat Aircraft (LCA-Navy) – is currently in Russia for contract negotiations and issues related to the program’s shore-based test facility (SBTF).

A senior official from the Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO) told AVIATION WEEK that the team is being lead by Satish Babu, the financial advisor to DRDO chief V.K. Saraswat, who is also ADA’s director general. LCA Navy Program Director C.D. Balaji is also on the ADA team.

“The team is currently holding contract negotiations with Russia’s Rosoboronesport. The talks are mainly revolving around SBTF, that’s coming up at the Naval Air Station, Goa, to flight-test LCA naval variants,” the official said.

A naval prototype of LCA-Navy was officially rolled out by Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony on July 6. The SBTF would be the Indian Navy’s first such facility.

“Building the SBTF in Goa is a huge technological challenge for ADA and the Indian Navy, and Russian help is critical. It will have to be an exact ship-on-the-shore facility based on India’s Indigenous Aircraft Carrier being built at Cochin Shipyard,” the official said. “The measurements are the same as IAC and it must have all equipment to simulate an aircraft carrier with ski-jump and arrested recovery. Hence, the current project review being undertaken with the Russians is crucial in many ways.”

The SBTF is critical to the program because ADA will be conducting carrier suitability tests for LCA-Navy in Goa after the initial flight trials for the current two prototypes are completed in Bengaluru. ADA hopes to have the ramp for the takeoff area ready by the end of 2011 and the landing area completed by 2012. A full-fledged telemetry unit is also being constructed in Goa as part of SBTF.

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