The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has commenced the Main Airframe Fatigue Test (MAFT) of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mk1 airframe at the Ground Test Centre of the Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC), Bengaluru, it said on Wednesday.
“These tests will be carried out over a period of eight to nine years. The successful completion of the MAFT will qualify the LCA [Air Force] Mk1 airframe for its full service life,” it stated. As per the military airworthiness requirements, the MAFT had to demonstrate the capability of the airframe to withstand four times the service life, it noted.
The airframe is the same for the LCA Mk1 in service and the more capable LCA-Mk1A, 83 of which the IAF has contracted for. The MK1A is expected to roll out in the next couple of months.
Setbacks due to pandemic
“Despite the setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the HAL has been able to commence the MAFT testing within the timelines planned”, Arup Chatterjee, Director (Engineering and R&D), HAL, said after inaugurating the MAFT test facility.
Air Vice Marshal K. V. R. Raju, Director of the Indian Air Force project management team, stressed on the importance of the commencement of the MAFT testing towards clearance of the full life of LCA fleet.
The test plan and schedule for the MAFT has been jointly arrived at by the designers from the HAL and scientists from the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in coordination with the Regional Centre for Military Airworthiness (RCMA), CEMILAC.