SPECIAL REPORT                                                                                                                                           FROM THE INTERNET

Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)

From the Internet DJ takes out a special report on the development of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) in INDIA

The LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) is India's second indigenous jet fighter design, after the HF-24 Marut of the 1950s. Development began in 1983; the basic design was finalised in 1990, and two prototypes are currently approaching completion, with first flight expected sometime in 1995. The configuration is a delta wing, with no tailplanes or foreplanes, and a single vertical fin. The LCA will be constructed of aluminium-lithium alloys, carbon-fibre composites, and titanium.

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The design incorporates 'control-configured vehicle' concepts to enhance manoeuvrability, and quadruplex fly-by-wire controls.

Both prototypes are powered by General Electric F404-GE-F2J3 engines, but an indigenous engine, the GTX-35VS Kaveri, is being developed for the production LCA. No official name or other designation has been assigned to the LCA yet.

The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is a small, lightweight, supersonic, multi-role, single-seat fighter designed primarily to replace the MiG-21 series of aircraft of Indian Air Force as its front-line multi-mission single-seat tactical aircraft. The LCA integrates modern design concepts like static instability, digital fly-by-wire flight control system, integrated avionics, glass cockpit, primary composite structure, multi-mode radar, microprocessor based utility and brake management systems.

Short takeoff and landing, high manoeuvrability with excellent maintainability and a wide range of weapon fit are some of LCA's features. Two aircraft technology demonstrators are powered by single GE F404/F2J3 augmented turbofan engines. For maintenance the aircraft has more than five hundred Line Replaceable Units (LRUs), each tested for performance and capability to meet the severe operational conditions to be encountered. Major sub-systems like fly-by-wire digital flight control system, integrated avionics, hydraulic and electrical systems, environmental control system, fuel system etc., are being tested to ensure performance and safety. Following satisfactory sub-system test results the flight test programme of the LCA will begin later in 1996.

The LCA has been designed and developed by a consortium of five aircraft research, design, production and product support organizations pooled by the Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), under Department of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO). Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is the Principal Partner in the design and fabrication of the LCA and its integration leading to flight testing. Several academic institutions from over the country have participated in the development of design and manufacturing software for LCA. National teams formed by pooling the talents and expertise in the country are entrusted with the responsibility of the development of major tasks such as development of carbon composite wing, design, design of control law and flight testing. Several private and public sector organizations have also supported design and manufacture of various LCA sub-systems.

Various international aircraft and system manufacturers are also participating in the programme with supply of specific equipment, design consultancy and support. For example, GE Aircraft Engines provides the propulsion and Lockheed Martin the flight control system.

Type: LCA
Country: India
Function: Fighter
Crew: 1
Engines: 1 (83.4 kN GTRE GTX-35VS augmented turbofan)
Wing Span: 8.20 m
Length: 13.20 m
Empty Weight: 5500 kg
Armament: GSh-23 twin-barrel 23mm cannon (220 rounds); 7 hardpoints, max exter- nal load over 4000 kg
Name: Light Combat Aircraft
Constructor: HAL
Armament: 1 cannon 23mm 7 hardpoints
Length: 13m20
Max Speed: 1700 km/h
Height: 4m40
Weight Max: +8500 kg
Span: 8m20
Crew: 1
Engines: 1