By Anantha Krishnan M. | Bangalore, |
India | July 09, 2010 | Aviation Week |
India rolled out the naval version (NP-1) of its Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) on July 6 in Bangalore with Defense Minister A.K. Antony leading the team. With the air force version of LCA (Tejas) now months away from its much-awaited initial operational clearance (IOC), the NP-1 rollout was hailed as a significant new chapter in Indian aviation. Amidst all the feel-good news stories on NP-1 in India’s media, it was important to check the pulse of the user, who would eventually have the final say on the platform’s worthiness. AVIATION WEEK caught up with Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Adm. Nirmal Verma to learn the significance of the NP-1 rollout and the way ahead.
AW: The LCA Navy was rolled out on July 6 after the project got the Cabinet Committee on Security’s nod in April 2003. How significant is this program for the Indian Navy?
CNS: The LCA (Navy) was sanctioned in March ’03 [following] the success of LCA (AF) in January 2001. They were planned as a possible replacement to our aging fleet of Sea Harriers, which have been in service since the ’80s. The vision of the Navy has always been to be an effective force, and hence LCA (Navy) shall play an important role in our future carrier operations doctrine. The LCA (Navy) design specifically caters [to] the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC1) scheduled to be delivered by Cochin Shipyard Ltd by 2014. The aircraft is expected to have state-of-art sensors and weapons and would be an integral part of our air arm. LCA (Navy) would add punch to the Navy’s blue water vision.