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Fri, Aug 08, 2003

India Joins Supersonic Club

LCA Goes Mach 1.08

The Press Trust of India reports that India's home-grown light fighter, the Licht Combat Aircraft, or LCA, has gone faster than sound.

Wing commander Vikram Singh was quoted as having said he could tell he'd done it, without having to check any gauges, as he flew the test run: "She flew absolutely beautifully. Even if you closed my eyes, I could have felt it had gone supersonic," he said, after his 10-second supersonic experience.

That half-hour flight marked India's entry into the exclusive club of countries that have produced supersonic vehicles.

Mach 1.08 is just the start. The LCA is supposed to hit 1.8 Mach when operational, in several years. It won't be operational soon enough: India's ancient but potent MiG-21 fleet is continuing to take a toll on taxpayers, as repair and maintenance costs mount -- and on pilots, as the clunky, nasty Mach 2.1 machines find a lot of relatively low-time fighter pilots 'way behind them, often with sad results.

FMI: http://indianairforce.nic.in/

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