Bumped into Commodore (retd) C.D. Balaji, project director LCA (Navy) this morning at Def Expo’s DRDO pavilion. He says that while the fore and aft duselage assemblies of the Naval LCA are almost complete, the mid section of the aircraft will take at least till the the beginning of 2008. Final integration and fly-out of the first prototype won’t happen before late 2009 at an optimistic estimate. Cmde Balaji says there is a huge amount of work ahead on structural reinforcement of the undercarriage, the tail-hook assembly and the landing gear assembly itself.
The programme team is currently waiting for Navy and Cochin Shipyards to freeze the deck design and coordinates of the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC). Once that happens, Goa Shipyards will execute its contract to build a shore-based ski-jump and arrester wire landing platform at Dabolim airport in Goa, where flight tests and pilot training will be conducted. Construction of the landing platform is likely to begin only sometime next year.
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