Why was the Naval LCA Mk2 was abandoned in favour of the TEDBF?

Naval LCA vs TEDBF : The Indian Navy joined the LCA program in order to develop a fighter aircraft for its future aircraft carriers. As part of this effort, Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) was tasked with modifying the baseline LCA design meant for the Indian Air Force with a view to making it suitable for naval use.

Arrested landings on a carrier bring a high speed fighter aircraft to a dead stop within a few hundred meters, unlike what obtains on a traditional runway at a land based airstrip. To handle the intense additional stresses, likely to be experienced during carrier landings, the under carriage of the IAF version had to be greatly strengthened, even though the overall airframe was perhaps not modified to the same degree.

However, this decision to not substantially modify the baseline LCA airframe led to a Naval LCA Mk1 design where the strengthened landing gear would ‘sprawl’ under its airframe. This in turn prevented the carriage of external fuel tanks or indeed any heavy weapons, on the inboard weapons stations of the Naval LCA Mk1 jet wings.

As a result, the Indian Navy leaned on ADA to develop a follow on to the Naval LCA Mk1 design, that would not entail such compromises and truly meet its requirements. For this purpose, Airbus was roped in to provide design consultancy, for what became the Naval LCA Mk2 project. However, the Naval LCA Mk2, a mockup of which was displayed at Aero India 2019, also failed to attract Indian Navy and the services thoughts turned towards developing a navalized version of the AMCA.

After several rounds of deliberations involving the Indian Navy and ADA, it was mutually decided that they would instead develop a fourth generation ‘plus’ twin engine fighter likely powered by the GE F-414 engines to meet the Navy’s requirements. Thus, was born the TEDBF project.

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