New Delhi: To meet the Indian Navy’s acquisition plans for carrier deck-based fighters, naval fighter jets will carry out flight-testing at the shore-based test facility (SBTF) at Naval Air Station INS Hansa in Goa.
During the tests beginning next week, these naval fighter jets would mandatorily operate from aircraft carriers.
Manufacturers of naval fighter aircraft like Rafale, F-18 and others making their efforts to meet the Indian Navy’s requirement of fighter jets for operations from onboard the two carriers.
“Suitable fighters capable of operations onboard the carrier would first need to be assessed. Trials with the SBTF at Goa is part of the same process,” said a source.
Amid these trials, the Indian Navy continues to give due impetus to ‘Make In India’ and encourage indigenisation, for which the twin-engine deck-based fighter is being developed by the DRDO.
Indian Navy had enabled the LCA Navy version’s trials at the SBTF followed by the successful trials onboard its aircraft carrier Vikramaditya.
LCA Navy is a prototype, the TEDBF is expected to be ready for trials by 2026, followed by production by 2031, which would then lead of the standard induction.
However, at present to meet the immediate operational requirements for the two carriers, there is a necessity to induct fighters at the earliest.
The trials at the Goa naval station are part of this process.
Last year, the US had offered its F-18 naval fighter jets for the Indian Navy’s requirements of combat jets for its aircraft carriers.
Similarly, French Defence Minister Florence Parly offered Rafale naval fighter jets to India, if requires.
“We know that the aircraft carrier will soon be (there)… that aircraft are needed. We are open and ready to provide any other Rafale if this is India’s decision,” she said during her visit to India on December 17, 2021.
India’s first home-made aircraft carrier Vikrant is scheduled to be inducted into the Indian Navy by August this year.