Indian Plans for Light Combat Aircraft to Lead to Next Generation Stealth Fighters (Jan 2003)

(c) K.B. Sherman, 2003

Defense News reports that in November, BAE Systems Controls (Johnson City, NY) signed a $20 million contract with India’s Aeronautical Development Establishment (Bangalore) to complete environmental qualification testing on actuator hardware now being flown on two development Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), plus to supply of six sets of actuators and sensors for additional aircraft. International work on the aircraft was stopped in 1998 when Indian engineers were ejected from then-Lockheed Martin Controls’ LCA developmental program because of India’s continued testing of atomic weapons. The LCA program had been slated to replace Indian Air Force MiG-21s before the end of the 1990s.

The single-seat LCA is the world's lightest supersonic combat aircraft. It is expected to start serving with front-line units in 2008 in limited numbers, with full-scale production planned for between 2012 and 2015.

If the LCA is successful, a twin-engined Medium Combat Aircraft (MCA) employing stealth technology is already being considered. Stealthiness will be a priority, with the MCA having two small, outward-canted fins, external fuel tanks mounted above the wings, and no vertical stabilizer or rudder. India sees the MCA as a possible counter to the US’ Joint Strike Fighter, which may be made available to some of the US’ other allies.