“LCA-Navy Not What We Want, But It’s Ours”: FONA

It may not be what we want, but it is our own aircraft,” says the Indian Navy’s Flag Officer Naval Aviation (FONA) Rear Admiral Sudhir Pillai on the LCA Navy in an interview to FORCE magazine. He was asked how effective the LCA Navy would be for a carrier-based role given that it “only an eight ton platform”. The officer’s response: “I wish wish we could straightaway develop a Rafale. But seriously, we have to look at the Indian Navy and it commitment towards indigenisation. I agree that we have made a modest start, but it has been a huge learning experience. LCA Navy will remain a modest platform with an uprated engine which will give us adequate capability at sea. While it is easy to buy from abroad, sometimes it is extremely difficult to support those platforms. Our past experiences tell us that it is worth committing resources to develop our own assets.”

Also, unless the LCA Navy decides to fly tomorrow or the day after, looks like it will be missing its December first flight schedule. What a pity.

Quote Text Copyright FORCE

39 thoughts on ““LCA-Navy Not What We Want, But It’s Ours”: FONA”

  1. i'd rather listen to the first part more carefully: Not really what we want. If that's true then everything else that follows holds no value. If FONA means LCA does not have the kind of capability they require, then frankly i'd like to remind everyone here that forces are made not out of mere pride but capabilities. That is what will count on ground. And if its not what you want then why would you induct it? Face keeping? Morale boost? uh, that is one expensive morale deal.

  2. Really really admire Navy's commitment to indigenisation compared to Air force and Army which behaves like cranky spoilt children.

  3. I don't know if it is prudent to adopt inferior equipment when we are trying to get ready to face a possible two front war in the future.

    Shouldn't we deem such developments(LCA) as technology demonstrators while consequently buy top line foreign products till our indigenous capabilities match up?

  4. One modest step for our scientists, one giant leap for India.

    Now we have a foundation to build on. With our hart working and honest scientist, we will catch-up quicker than most of us thinks.

  5. At least we have got guys in Navy who have good thoughts about LCA…I think its all about the support and appreciation that gets u good product….IAF and ARMY plz learn from them…..

  6. I feel let down by IN and IAF with respect to LCA…All these days I used to login to sum or the other forum to just retaliate to comments bashing LCA…I used to get angry against IAF for not supporting LCA…but now IN too is following the same line..If these ppl feel its not worthy then y it should be build…Even without knowing properly I used to talk about sustained turn rate, alfa etc…and just go on and support LCA….but now the officials are saying this is not worth it…I am following LCA status from last 9 years…Right from its TD…Now i think its time to give up….

  7. The statement makes sense, good to see the commitment.

    On the first flight, we always hope things are in place when it happens.
    Considering the delay ,after the time commited to LSP 5, this would have been expected, but if HAL can do it in January 2011 it's still good, really hope so.

  8. India seriously needs to pull up its socks now..These 'modest attempts' won't help us much in future…If rumours are to be believed, China has already tested its 5th Gen J-20 while our blessed DRDO officials are still taking baby steps with the LCA..GOI is yet to formally launch the AMCA project..They are still busy contemplating the pros and cons of the project…Kaveri's future is uncertain…The Air Force has finally given up hope on the prospect of powering Tejas with it…The word is that Kaveri, which is in the 90 kN class, is being prepared to power the AMCA..While the Chinese J-20 will be powered by 2 152 kN class engines…India needs to shed this Nehruvian mantle of reactive defence and set its standards high if it wishes to make its presence felt in the Global arena…

  9. The words of this naval officer sound like a great epilogue. Those words shall be respected.

    All the best to the Naval Tejas, whenever it arrives.

  10. I love this statement of his: "Our past experiences tell us that it is worth committing resources to develop our own assets."

    It is very praiseworthy that the Navy has been patiently and diligently building a fighting force on indigenous equipment.

  11. The extract is a month old, but its a worthy remainder for the ADA team leading LCA development. In the hush hush to IOC, the team should not afford to give step-child treatment to naval tejas programme. This branch of the defence services have the perseverence to push through with their Indian projects, its time DRDO cast its weight around indian navy for developing naval tejas, embraer based awacs platform and an aerostat platform with extended range at sea. considering the Advanced Medium combat aircraft it would be better to develop the naval version first get it into flight for naval requirements, then offer a weight shaved version for the Air Force, that would put the nerves of air force studs to the test. Ever watched an airplane take off and land on an aircraft carrier, its an awesome sight. Unless mother ships are invented and colonies are fought over in other planets of the solar system. Naval power would remain the most capable and assertive method of power projection far away from the homeland.

  12. Navy wants toys like F35. Naval Tejas is playing spoilsport to Navy's tantarums. Is Sea Harrier better than Tejas? Sea Harrier's performance is inferior to Mirage 2000. Those who have flown Tejas have mentioned that it handles better than Mirage 2000. Now how competent is a whale to talk about laws of flight? Bhaiya read between the lines and stop moaning. Our Navy's "Most talented" officer sold the nation for a song in Groshkov deal and ex Chief of Navy's name is figuring in Adarsh Housing scam. Point is with such kind of Army, Navy and AF, how secure is the nation?

  13. I feet so disgusted by the lack of pride that our media and the Chiefs of our forces have in the efforts of people trying to develop an indigenous spine for India. Whether it is ARJUN with T-72s or TEJAS with MIG-21/Sea Harrier, in every case the indigenous equipment is a step up from the equipment currently in use.
    And yet all I heard is whining from media and the Chiefs IAF,Navy and Army. Correct me if I am wrong but didn't IAF Committed to Mig-29 when it was still in development.

    May be it is because in case of home grown products their is not enough monetary incentive for them to support it.

  14. To all the critics of the LCA and DRDO etc:

    1) LCA Development Budget is $3.8 Billion. Rafale's Euro 40 Billion or $53Billion. Now I dont have high expectations of your analytical abilities, but the fact that you have access to a computer gives me hope that you will realise that 53 is greater than 4.

    2) China is making J20 while we are making LCA. Well if the customer asks for a Toyota Corolla, you can't give him a Lexus right? I mean think about it, you go to a showroom and want to book a Corolla, but the company says "Buy Lexus saar. Very good car. Better than Corolla." China is making J20 because its airforce wanted J20s. India is making the LCA because thats what its Air Force wanted.

    Shiv, I totally understand that you chose the headline that would grab the most attention, but then you honestly cant say that the headline does not give a diametrically opposite idea of what the whole of the article is professing.

    I understand the needs of marketing etc., but its not like being honest would lead to such massive drops in visitors as to be catastrophic. :))

  15. Hear hear! Navy shows the way to go!

    Now if all the moaning Monas here can only read the full sentence instead only the first part….

  16. "Aditya said…

    Interesting that Rafale gets a mention here. Is that a hint?"

    @ Aditya: No, he mentioned the same since only Rafale has naval capabilities among six MMRCA competitors, and the comment is made by a Naval officer.

    @ Topic: First we are not on a verge of war. And, if we are then it's obvious requirement to acquire the needful strength, but not to hold indigenous effort. End of the day self made military hardware make you a competent power. China is focused on self reliance, if believe rumors then China declined a JV with Russia for PAK-FA. Then Russians offered India. Chinese were keen to develop their own. JV with old friend Russia is always welcomed but self reliance is the key to prove strength.

    Today we have sufficient funds to invest in R&D along with needful imports. This is best time when indigenisation should be on pace.

  17. "LCA not what we want" cannot be taken in the context of "LCA not we need".

    There are lot of stuff like the F-22 the USAF and the A-12 the US navy would like to have more. But their tactical utility matters more than fancy planes sitting on decks. Given that with Goskov, IAC-1 and IAC-2 india is not going to have to launch its combat planes over pakistan territory to bomb Al Queda and taliban hide outs, I don't see much tactical utility a 1000 km combat radius naval tejas cannot fulfil for Indian Navy.

    The Air Force should be thinking what do I need a max range of 2000 km MMRCA for, when I already have 3000 km range Su-30 MKI.

  18. I like Indian Navy, Men in White is perfect for India's Indigenousness Process..

    I dont understand here lot say our domestic product is worthless or crap time delay, waste of $$$… then why should you step in.???

    If we cant eat @ hotels 365*3 its cost more and we lost the game in dish preparations… Same goes for technology…With out R&D nothing can be done in future…if you dont do any thing today tomorrow we in a situation also to import a bullet or even a pencil…

    and don't care about that stpd TAX PAYING reason…every one will pay… if they can't do, go and do yourself lets see who is the winner???

  19. Sir.
    I understand that IOC for LCA Tejas is only a few days away.
    DRDO now must freeze the specification of LCA Mark II and allow IAF and IN to comment on the same. Incorporating those comments, wherever possible, DRDO must declare a detailed time frame for the first LCA MarkII to take to the sky. This is most important for the program to be successful. Specification needs to be made public for the knowledge of the nation at large. Meanwhile, HAL must manufacture sixty LCA MarkI logging enough flying hours to dismiss all doubts about the capability of the aircraft.


  20. I say we let the RATshakers develop a good aircraft for the navy. It will be the best in the world and even the USAwill be begging us for it.

    The Navy is right, the LCA is pretty crap .. but its a stepping stone, and hopefully our dear RATshaker brothers will help us get something better.

  21. I sympathize more with Navy's hesitation with N-LCA than with Army's onstinacy re Arjun pr AF concerns with LCA. Reason? N-LCA is an extremely poor platform for what the Navy needs. Navies have multi bilion dollar aircraft carriers, and it is extremely important that these carriers have long range fighters with long range missiles to protect the carriers. LCA is desugned as a small light short range interceptor. There is a role for such aircraft in the AF but NOT in the Navy.

  22. Ultimately it is the Navy personnel that will be risking their lives in the event of a conflict, not HAL employees, DRDO scientists and definitely not the anonymous 'enthusiasts' littering the web. Their needs are paramount.

    I've maintained for a long time that N-LCA doesn't have much use for the Navy. It's pathetic payload capacity(2000kg) and single-engine design makes it unsuitable. Hopefully the Navy will follow suit with the IAF and only order a token number followed by 50 or so F-35s.

  23. @Gautham

    U have to realise that every weapon system developed always looks good on paper….its in actual war (hopefully there shouldnt be one 🙂 ) ….

    Now the Navel personnel is fighting a war … there will be risk… now even before the NLCA is taken off the ground … you are dismissing it???….

    History – Falkland wars… the Royal navy – Sea Harriers on paper and in the air is no match for the Mirage III the Argentinians AF has… But still the Royal navy knew this and developed tactics to counter this ( you can google this )

    The NLCA though small, has the potential to be an excellent weapon system … only time will tell… 🙂

  24. GautamG, you're suffering from dementia. You say N-LCA is usless as it has a single engine, but in the same breath you propose the single-engine F-35.

    Now, did the Rear Admiral even hint that the N-Tejas would be "unsafe" for its pilots ? So, where did you invent this from ?

    GautamG, you've been harping against the Tejas since almost a year now on Shiv Aroor's blog. Most of what you say is contrary to facts, and often your own imagination (like N-Tejas is unsafe). So, you seem to have an ulterior motive against the Tejas. You also endorse F-35 for no good reason, even though the US Navy too hasn't yet inducted a single one.

    Now, tell us who is your paymaster : Lockeed, or Boeing ? Or both ?

  25. Noble honest Abhid who accuses anyone who ever disagrees with him to be bribed by somebody,

    It's the IAF who first expressed concern over single-engined planes some years ago with respect to the Naval Gripen.

    And why N-LCA is unbsuitable is obvious. It's only your own imagination thatt generates contrary scenarios. A usefil load of only 2000kg means the N-LCA can't carry a respectable load of LGBs and anti-ship missiles, which is its main strike role. And even in the air-to-air role it will certainly be inferior to the Chinese J-15s(which your imagination consistenly refuses to include) and Su-30MK2s.

  26. Now, now Mr. GautamG, more rubbish from you as usual. The IN expressed interest in the Naval-Gripen ? Really ?

    You think IN is so stupid as to "express interest" in a nonexistent paper-tiger called N-Gripen ? And ignore the N-Tejas, whose first flight is around the corner ?

    The N-Tejas was borne out of an IN requirement…..the ADA didn't hawk the N-Tejas to the IN, like the Swedes did. And for your info, the Swedes themselves approached the IN with their paper-tiger, long after the N-Tejas was ordered by the IN, and already in the hangars of HAL.

    Also, guess what GautamG ? Your beloved Sea-Gripen too is a single-engined jet ! Now, didn't we hear you rile against the single-engine N-Tejas ? And from the specs of sea-Gripen, it too can't carry any more than the Tejas can given that both are derivatives of the near-equal Tejas Mk.1 and Gripen-C respectively which are themselves equivalent in range/payload abilities.

    So there go more of anti-Tejas rot from you, out of the window.

  27. There are different ways to look at Naval Tejas but some facts

    a) Our Naval doctrine about the use of Aircraft carrier is unrealistic for simple reason that Aircraft Carrier (AC henceforth) being very valuable assets should be protected from Submarines, and so in case of war wth our neighbour, I am sure our AC will be deployed either on East Coast or on Southern Naval command and not on western naval command.

    b) Further, if we are to send our AC into combat, it will have to go with a fleet group meaning
    1. 3-4 Battlecruisers (light or heavy)
    2. A fleet of destroyers providing cover.
    3. 3 – 4 submarines to recee and destroy any enemy asset nearby.
    4. 2 Fleet Tankers to be able to fuel the combat group at Sea if needed
    5. Fuel tanker for aviation fuel for Aircrafts

    So we are looking at about 2 dozen vessels to protect the Aircraft carrier
    And if we have to use so many assets to protect 1 AC then the AC better have good strike capability something like Aircrafts which are able to deliver heavy weapon load on enemy (Point 1)

    Tejas is designed as a light weight air-superiority fighter, presently it is not really mature enough to be a strike plane. Also with its limited capability it will be able to do its job well (air-superiority and limited strike) but considering Rafale, it is already a proven platform.
    Tejas might take few years to mature and develop into a good Naval strike aircraft and I do not have doubts about it

    So now, considering AC as prime Asset, what sort of plane would Navy want?

    1. Medium weight, twin engined aircraft.
    2. Capability to carry about 7-8 tons max payload on 8-11 pylons (maybe 1 – 2 BrahMos)
    3. Range of about 700-1000 miles
    4. AESA Radar

    Presently only two countries have aircraft as per these requirements
    USA – F/A-18 E/F (proven)
    France – Rafale M (proven but does not have AESA)

    Russia is selling Su-33K and Mig-29K but they themself do not have an aircraft carrier

    Also considering other potential bidders like Gripen Naval or Eurofighter Naval, they are actually in worse position than Naval LCA, Naval LCA is atleast having prototypes, where as Naval Gripen and Eurofighters ae still on paper,

    So my choice of Naval fighter would be as follows

    F/A-18 E/F: already proven and has AESA Radar, but only American Senate can put some clauses like cannot use without their permission which might make it difficult

    Rafale M: Proven platform. lacks an AESA radar presently but technically it does compete with F/A-18 E/F

    Naval Tejas : Already in prototype stage, will be light weight and single engine (not what Indian navy wants) but can be the
    one that can be used as air superiority fighter for naval assets and other plane as MRCA-N

    Gripen-N: Single Engine and light weight.. I shall opt on Tejas

    Eurofighter-IN: Lets see if they can develop the Naval Version and if they can then its good, we cna consider this later,

    Su-33K: Based on Su-30 platform, it is good plane but no combat experience. But can be worth,

    Mig-29K: We have ordered these and are in use with Indian Navy. good fighter small but is Light Medium weight asset

  28. What is an Aircraft Carrier?
    During second world war, the biggest gun a ship could carry was 16 inch gun that could shoot about 30 miles, but then with advent of aircraft carrier, a ship could hit targets as far as 400 miles or more. So Aircraft carrier was natural development of battleship for long range hitting power with better accuracy (using its plane)
    The present missiles (crusise missles etc) can do the same job at a better accuracy, so why not change our Naval policy

    What I would suggest is to work in small unit called "Strike Buddies" Consisting of 2 ships each
    Cruiser and companion Destroyer

    Buddy team:
    Cruiser (Primary role: Long range Strike using cruise missles and Heavy guns, long range reconaissance and ASW detection using Helicopters with Torpedos and Anti sub missiles) Medium-long range Air-defence using long range AD missiles)
    Secondary role: Air defence and strike using its secondary guns, secondary strike

    Destroyer (Primary role: Air defence and strike using its guns, Anti submarine warfare) Secondary: role Long range strike

    When going on Mission, 2 Buddy teams should go together to make a strike team so when attacking the two teams can spread out and give better range and options, and during defence, the 2 teams come closer and provide better air-defence together as
    the 2 cruisers will provide long range air defence and the destroyers provide primarily short range quick reaction air defence (which cruisers also have)

    Any takers for this concept?

  29. When we purchased Gnat air craft. nobody thought at that time it will perform far better than any other fighter planes.Gnat fighter plane performance in 1965 and 1971 was incredible! It could have performed much better if its gun performed well.It was getting jammed very frequently. Tejas is far superior to Gnat and MIg21. I hope Tejas will perform well in combats like Gnat. This is the age of missiles and UAV. The chances of Dog fight or gun fight may not take place.The accuracy and range of the BVR missile will decide air superiority. One Pakistani piolt view is given below. LCA Tejas is the world's smallest, light weight, multi-role combat aircraft. Use of composites in the LCA resulted in a 40% reduction in the total number of parts compared to using a metallic frame. Furthermore, the number of fasteners has been reduced by half in the composite structure from the 10,000 that would have been? required in a metallic frame design. The composite design also helped to avoid about 2,000 holes being drilled into the airframe. You just imagine how many thousands of holes drilled to JF17 metal Air-frame which will result in fatigue in addition to Chinese WS Engines !! It will be ideal for them to get upgraded F-16s & Mirage IIIs instead of going for JF-17's. Life of skilled PAF pilot is valuable for their wife & children.

  30. I request the readers and IAF pilots to read AIR WAR 1965
    Gp Capt Bharat Singh VrC, VM, MAeSI.
    Pro- Resin 1/72 Folland GnatFO-141 article written by Randy Smith. HAL and DRDO might have designed Tejas after reading so many articles. More over Tejas maintenance cost will be less than Rafael. Swedish Gripen fighter plane operating cost is the lowest in the world ( $ 3000 per hour), where as Rafael’s operating cost is $.17000. Since Taja's and Swedish Gripen are using similar GE engine there will be not be much difference in maintenance cost.

  31. Expert view
    Indian LCA is not claiming it is the best multi role aircraft in the world in all respect but its air frame is of composite material which makes the aircraft light & fly long distance, fast with little fuel which makes it similar to F15 Eagle, Eurojet fighters, Su 27MKII & Su-30MKI . The engine F404-IN20 of LCA Tejas jetfighter is manufacturered by General Electric, currenrly used by European figter jets. Tejas employs C-FC materials for up to 45% of its airframe by weight, including in the fuselage (doors and skins), wings (skin, spars and ribs), elevons, tailfin, rudder, air brakes and landing gear doors. Composites are used to make an aircraft both lighter and stronger at the same time compared to an all-metal design.

  32. I have doubts that the present generation of IAF and Navy officers have neither any war experience nor studied any war articles or journals to upgrade their knowledge.They have been carried away by foreign agents/ experts. I agree with the view of SmestarZ regarding Air Craft Carrier After Independence, Nehru purchased an Aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.Air craft Carriers are the costliest defense equipment, which are required only if we fight a war far away from our country, where fighter planes cannot travel such a long distance. More over Aircraft carriers are not allowed to move alone. It is like a king. It should be protected from all sides by other warships and frigates. In the 1965 INS Vikrant did not take part as it was in Dock yard for some repair.. In 1971 war Navy did not send INS Vikrant to attack Karachi Port because one of its boiler was not functioning.The Russian missile boats performed far better than any Naval equipments in 1971 War. One thing I am unable to understand is that why India purchased another Air Craft carrier in 1987 during Rajiv Gandhi’s period knowing well that Guided missile boats performed better than Air craft carrier and it is risky to maintain Air Craft carriers. Indian Missile boats crossed all barrier and attacked Karachi. Port.

  33. Mig -21 plane is being operated by a single pilot. Majority of fighter planes in the world are operated by only one pilot, except Rafael and Euro fighter Typhoon. Russians are operating Sukhoi planes with single pilot. But IAF had asked the Russians to modify the plane and make it suitable for two pilots. The exact reason for this request is not known. Perhaps the idea is to by -pass Swedish- make Gripen . The person who asked for two seater Plane has no consideration for human life. Americans have started using Drones to minimize loss of human life. It is easy to get fighter planes, but training a pilot is time consuming. This will create shortage of pilots in the long run.So over a period of time there will be enough planes but there will be shortage of pilots.

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