amit wrote:srai wrote:NLCA Mk.2 would be ready by the time "second" Vikrant class (if ordered within the next couple of years) joins the fleet around 2024. Current batch of 45 MiG-29Ks will act as frontline and backup plan till then. With NLCA, since it is indigenous know-how it could be reconfigured for catapult launch when Vishal arrives post 2030+ to fill the gap until N-AMCA arrives. 60 NLCA Mk.2 are planned. No need for imported planes going forward.
Three carriers means two available at all times with the third undergoing refit, or serving as training vessel, or acting as reserve. Current orders of 45 MiG-29Ks are sufficient for three squadrons and could be activated on a third carrier if situation demands it. For the most part, the third will rotate with other squadrons for shored-based stint.
But would that be an optimal use of another carrier? As per my understanding the NLCA would be used mainly for point defence of the carrier while the larger MiG-29K would be offensive arm for shore based bombing runs.
I don't think it's a good idea to have a carrier based on just one aircraft type, it so happens that the lifts of the Vikrant is not wide enough for a Rafale, not really a big aircraft.
The point is the Navy has expressed unhappiness with the MiG29K's performance and I don't think they will commit to another aircraft carrier which would have a lifespan of at least 50 years without clarity on what aircraft types will fly from it.
NLCA Mk.2 has evolved into a "medium" sized combat aircraft. Look at the redesign now: span, length and height differences.
- Span -> 0.7m larger
- Length -> 0.86m longer
- Height -> 0.12m taller
(click for larger view)
For size comparison, look at Mirage-2000 specs:
- Wingspan: 9.13 m (29 ft)
- Length: 14.36 m (47 ft 1 in)
- Height: 5.20 m (17 ft)
NLCA Mk.2 length is slightly longer (+0.2m) than Mirage-2000 while span is slightly smaller (-0.23m). Mirage is somewhat taller though (-0.56m).