INS Vikrant: The successfully took off and landed on the aircraft carrier’s flight deck as part of sea trials.
New Delhi: The made-in-India aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, today achieved a major milestone with the first landing of a fixed-wing aircraft after the Tejas fighter jet debuted on its flight deck.The indigenous fighter aircraft successfully took off and landed on the aircraft carrier’s flight deck as part of sea trials.
Speaking to NDTV, the ex-Tejas test pilot who led the mission to develop the naval variant of the jet, Commodore Jaideep Maolankar (Retd.), explained the challenges of landing a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier.
“It is difficult to land on a small ship, everything is moving, not just in one direction but in all directions. The sea was calm today, the winter Arabian sea is ideal, it’s almost like a lake. It is going to be made for the violent monsoon sea of the Arabian. The small aircraft has to make sure it does not overstress any aspect,” Commodore Maolankar said.
“It’s almost like threading a needle, you have to land not just at a precise spot, but in precise attitude to make sure no one part of the aircraft gets overstressed and in precise speed. It’s a task to avoid multiple cliff edges which you can’t see when you’re in speed. The back of the ship looks like a cliff and it behaves like it,” the ex-test pilot added.
Commodore Maolankar explained how pilots land on an aircraft carrier, “We try to keep the speed of the jet relative to the carrier, which is pegged at around 130 knots or 240 Km/hour.”
“In exactly 90 metres, hopefully not a meter more than that, we try to bring the speed from 240 Km/hour to zero in approximately 2.5 seconds. It’s an extremely violent thing. Once the arresting wire catches the tail hook, then you’re not going anywhere”, he added.
The pilots face physical challenges as well while landing on a flight deck and deaccelerating from 240 Km/hour to 0 in 2.5 seconds.
The ex-test pilot said there were instances when the pilots forgot to lock their harnesses, and there was little blood on their feet. The aircraft throws you off, and for 2-3 seconds you don’t have control over your limbs.
Commodore Maolankar was part of the team which tested, and engineered the Tejas aircraft when it landed on India’s other aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.
The 45,000-tonne INS Vikrant was built at a cost of ₹ 20,000 crore and was commissioned in September last year. Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar said earlier that the integration of aircraft with INS Vikrant will likely be accomplished by may or june of 2023
n January 2020, the prototype of the naval version of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas piloted by Commodore Maolankar successfully landed on the deck of INS Vikramaditya.The achievement in 2020 put India among a select group of nations that can design such a jet that can operate from an aircraft carrier.