Defence News Jan-Feb 2020

LCA Lands on INS Vikramaditya

Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)

The naval version of India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) made its first arrested landing on the deck of India’s aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya on 11 January 2019. The successful arrested landing makes the LCA the first Indian made jet to land on an aircraft carrier. A remarkable achievement, it bodes well for the indigenisation plans of the Indian military as also for the LCA programme. Undoubtedly, this is a significant development, which marks a quantum leap in India’s military capability. In an official statement, the DRDO, (Defence Research and Development Organisation) which developed the LCA, hailed the landing as a success. But it was more than just a successful arrested landing. It signified the coming of age in India’s defence capabilities, in upper-end technologies.

Another statement emanating from the DRDO was: “After completing extensive trials on the Shore Based Test Facility(SBTF), the naval version of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) did a successful arrested landing on board INS Vikramaditya at 1002 hours on Saturday”. The statement went on to say that Commodore Jaideep Maolankar conducted the maiden landing and that the landing was monitored through telemetry from the SBTF in Goa.

The first flight of the naval version of the LCA took place in April 2012 and since then, two prototypes have been flying as part of the development. The first prototype (NP1) of the Naval LCA made a successful first flight from the SBTF in 2014. After undergoing numerous tests at the SBTF, in which the conditions and facilities as existing on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier were replicated, all the desired parameters were achieved.

It may be noted that the SBTF was specifically built to train naval pilots in the complex manoeuvres of landing on the short flight deck of an aircraft carrier before they moved on to the actual carrier. Presently, the Navy operates Russian MiG-29K fighters from INS Vikramaditya which will also fly from the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier Vikrant once it enters service. The Navy is currently looking at global tenders for 57 carrier-based twin-engine fighter aircraft.


Shri Shripad Naik, Raksha Rajya Mantri visited the NCC Republic Day Camp 2020 on 18 January. He was received by Lieutenant General Rajeev Chopra, AVSM, Director General National Cadet Corps and thereafter presented with an impressive “Guard of Honour” by a contingent of all the three wings namely Army, Navy and Air Force.

At the Ship and Air-modelling area

The NCC Republic Day Camp 2020 is being attended by 2155 cadets, including 732 girl cadets, specially selected from 28 States and 09 Union Territories. In addition, a total of 115 foreign cadets, from ten friendly foreign countries, are participating under the NCC Youth Exchange Programme.

Interaction with the NCC cadets

In his address, Shri Shripad Naik complimented the cadets for their smart drill and confidence. He spoke of his days as a cadet in the NCC and appreciated the commitment of the National Cadet Corps to groom future leaders. Highlighting the immense contributions of the NCC, he said that the NCC was in the forefront of the organisations engaged in Youth Empowerment, promoting a unique mix of scholastic education and multifaceted activities, enabling all-round development of its Cadets.


On 19 January 2020, India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), successfully test-fired the 3,500 km- range K4 SLBM from the INS Arihant, a nuclear-powered submarine, off the coast of Andhra Pradesh.

The launch was carried out from an underwater platform in the sea, with the missile meeting all the laid down parameters. This is one of the two underwater missiles developed by India for its submarine force, the other being the 700 km range BO-5. As per government sources, the CEP (circular error of probability) achieved in the test was ‘much more sophisticated than Chinese missiles’. Indeed, the DRDO and other agencies associated with the development of the K4 SLBM are to be commended for this accomplishment.

On induction, the K4 SLBM will be a central component of the Arihant class of indigenous ballistic missile nuclear submarines. This gives India the standoff capability to launch nuclear weapons while submerged in the oceans. This comes just over a year after INS Arihant completed a deterrence patrol that established India’s nuclear triad—the ability to use nuclear weapons from the air, land, sea and from underwater.

India’s arrival in the underwater strategic domain was announced by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi himself, in November 2018, when he tweeted: “India’s pride, nuclear submarine INS Arihant successfully completed its first deterrence patrol!”This marked the first official acknowledgement by India that the country had acquired a modest but credible underwater deterrent.

The importance of the above event was highlighted by Admiral Arun Prakash, India’s former Naval Chief, who said

“As the third leg of a nuclear-triad, a SSBN threatens an adversary with assured retaliation by nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, while remaining hidden underwater and hence invulnerable. This lends huge credibility to the country’s nuclear deterrent. However Indian SSBNs will need missiles of intercontinental range so that they can credibly threaten adversary forces and population centres from their safe ‘havens’ in the Arabian Sea or the Bay of Bengal.”

Admiral Arun Prakash, India’s former Naval Chief

With a range of 3,500 km, the successful testing of the K4 missile is a significant step in that direction. Launching a missile from underwater comes with a host of challenges, which is why very few militaries in the world have achieved such a feat. A ballistic missile launched from a ground configuration has its own set of challenges, but it is confined to a two-domain trajectory. An SLBM, however, has to deal with an additional domain of water, which has vastly different characteristics.

When launched from underwater, the SLBM has to traverse the medium of water first; then traverse the earth’s atmosphere in a parabolic path and enter outer-space; streak across thousands of km and again re-enter the earth’s atmosphere in the final target acquisition phase. No mean feat this, and for India to have succeeded in this venture calls for accolades to the dedicated scientists who have worked on this project.

Considering the present geostrategic environment, and India’s concerns in the Indian Ocean Region, India’s effort at enhancing its nascent underwater nuclear deterrent is a step forward to achieving appropriate deterrence and through deterrence, towards ensuring peace. However, this deterrence is still a work in progress and more would be required in terms of national will and financial resources to achieve the desired degree of deterrence to obviate future threats.


Army Day, 15 January 2020 was celebrated this year with the customary grandeur associated with the event. On this day, in 1949, the first Indian Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal KM Cariappa, (then Lt Gen) took over the Indian Army.

The day is celebrated in the National capital as also in all command HQ by organising military parades, which showcase the Army and during which gallantry and distinguished service awards are given in the investiture ceremony. Tribute is also paid to the soldiers who laid down their lives for the motherland at the War Memorial in Delhi and in other places.

In Delhi, a magnificent parade was held where the Chief of Army Staff, Gen MM Naravane reviewed the parade. Later, Gen Naravane hosted a diner at his residence which was attended by the Prime Minister.

Wreaths were also laid at the National War Memorial, recently constructed at India Gate. On behalf of the veterans, wreaths were laid by three veterans, Maj Chandrakant Singh, VrC, Brigade of the Guards, Sub Maj Rajendra Singh, 16 Kumaon and Rifleman Jamna Ram, Rajputana Rifles.

Maj Chandrakant Singh is a veteran of the 1971 war, where he was wounded in battle. Sub Maj Rajendra Singh has been on three expeditions to Mount Everest and Rifleman Jamna Ram is a war-wounded veteran who lost his leg in the 1971 Liberation War.

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