MiG-29K - Indian Navy
Indian Navy has contracted for acquisition of 16 MiG 29K/KUB carrier based fighter aircraft with RAC MiG on 20 Jan 04. Aircraft deliveries began in Dec 09 and all 16 aircraft of the Main Contract have been delivered and accepted by the Indian Navy. An option clause contract for 29 additional aircraft was also signed on 08 Mar 2010 and delivery of these aircraft of the option clause contract is in progress and the last of the option clause aircraft is scheduled to be delivered in end 2016.
The MiG-29K is a true swing role aircraft which carries enough punch to undertake Air Dominance and Power Projection missions simultaneously, bestowing the Commander at sea, great flexibility. It takes Indian naval aviation from a defensive stature to one of dominance. The MiG 29K aircraft is a state of the art, all weather, carrier based, air dominance fighter specially built for the Indian Navy. The aircraft has a maximum speed over twice the speed of sound (about 2000 kmph), can pull up to 8 times the force of gravity, can climb to an altitude of over 65000 feet. Armed with an arsenal of some of the most sophisticated weapons in the world it is fully equipped to dominate by engaging targets in air, at sea or on land. Latest avionics, with data link capabilities coupled with its range of armament will enable true power projection. With its air- to- air refueling capability its ranges are also extended to perform true power projection and air space dominance roles.
The Indian Navy's new fighter aircraft, MiG-29K, marked 19 February 2010 with a take-off of with its full afterburners. The new fighter displayed its agility by breaking into an almost vertical climb within seconds after take-off. This was part of the ceremony to formally induct MiG-29K 'air dominance fighter' aircraft into the Indian Navy. The grand ceremony was held at INS Hansa, Vasco da Gama, Goa. Defence Minister, Mr AK Antony, was the chief guest for the ceremony.
The might of Naval aviation was on display- both in the air and on ground. In addition to the MiG-29K itself, the air display included a grand fly-past comprising of Sea Harrier, Ilyushin-38 (Sea Dragon), Chetak, Kiran and Dornier. The Sagar Pawan aerobatic team also displayed its prowess in various breathtaking manoeuvres.
Defence Minister, on arrival at INS Hansa was received by a ceremonial guard of honour. Addressing the gathering after witnessing a flypast, the Defence Minister said that the induction of MiG 29K fighters into the Navy fulfilled a long-standing requirement of the Navy. “With the induction of the MiG-29K, coupled with future inductions of aircraft carriers, our Navy's capability will see a quantum jump”, he added. He stated that such an addition to the inventory was, in fact, overdue as the operational role of the Indian Navy has increased manifold. To get a feel of the cockpit, Defence Minister embarked the aircraft on static display and was briefed about the capabilities of the fighter. He dedicated the new fighter aircraft to the nation and Indian Navy.
MiG 29K supersonic air dominance fighters were inducted by Mr Antony on 19 Feb 2010. Sixteen of these potent aircraft were inducted to form the main combat power of the, soon to be inducted aircraft carrier, Vikramaditya. Since its induction, the aircraft have flown over 2500 hrs and have successfully concluded armament trials of the entire range of arsenal comprising air to surface missiles, air to air missiles, bombs, rockets and guns. After proving in trials the aircraft have also participated in important theatre level exercises with the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force. Having successfully completed all tasks and trials assigned and established its combat potential, the MiG-29K squadron has now been commissioned into front line service to form the sword arm of the Indian Navy.
The MiG-29K is among the latest and most potent fighters designed by the Mikoyan Gurevich Bureau. While talking of the capability of the aircraft, the Commanding Officer of the air station at Goa where the aircraft were inducted said, “Despite the similarity in the nomenclature and appearance between the IAF's MiG-29 and the Indian Navy's MiG-29K, they are quite different from each other”. The new MiG-29K belongs to the 4+ generation and is capable of fulfilling multiple roles. The aircraft is more than 30 per cent heavier than the MiG-29 B (IAF). The MIG-29K will be equipped with anti-aircraft beyond visual range missiles, guided anti-ship missiles, 'smart' guided-bombs and rockets. Computers proliferate all the systems on board the MIG-29K including weapon systems, navigation systems, instrumentation, flight controls and safety systems. The pilot's helmet is equipped with advanced features permitting the pilot to shoot a target by merely looking at it. With all these systems, the MiG-29K is indeed a fighter to reckon with and is arguably one of the best in the sub-continent.
The Naval fighter fraternity has been heard referring to the MiG-29K as 'Game Changers' and 'Foe Busters'. Be that as it may the MiG 29K squadron will be fondly called the Black Panthers. Tail-hook operations are not new to the Indian Navy, which had earlier operated the Sea Hawks with distinction from the decks of the first aircraft carrier, the Vikrant. While Sea Harriers, the V/STOL fighters of the Navy too have served us well for so many years, time has come to induct the Navy's first supersonics. With the induction of the MiG-29Ks, the Indian Navy also returns to the tail-hook operations in the 'new mould' with the multi-dimension capabilities of this potent fighter aircraft.
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