Sunday, December 6, 2009

Indian Navy's first four MiG-29K fighters arrive in knocked down condition

NEW DELHI: The first four Russian-made Mig-29K fighters to be deployed on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, formerly the Admiral Gorshkov, when it is inducted into the Indian Navy have been received in a knocked-down condition and will now be assembled in this country, an official said on Saturday.

The jets arrived in the country Dec 4, celebrated as Navy Day.

"The four jets, in a knocked down condition, were delivered yesterday (Friday) by an AN-132 aircraft. It will be a while before the jets are assembled and start flying," an Indian Navy official said but refused the divulge the present location of the aircraft.

The jets were purchased by the Indian Navy as part of a $1.5 billion deal signed with Russia in January 2004 for the Admiral Gorshkov. Of this $740 million was meant for the aircraft and the balance for the refitting of the carrier. The Russians have now upped the price to between $2.2 billion and $2.9 billion and negotiations on this are currently underway.

The navy will eventually be getting 12 MiG-29K single-seater aircraft and four MiG-29KUB twin-seat trainer aircraft, some in flyaway condition. The trainer version is similar to the single-seater but with a slightly reduced operational range.

The navy has named its MiG-29K squadron the "Black Panthers". As the 45,000 tonne Kiev class aircraft carrier, is scheduled to be delivered by 2012, the jets will undertake shore-based sorties from Goa.

The contract for the jets also stipulates the procurement of hardware for pilot training and aircraft maintenance, including flight simulators and interactive ground and sea-based training systems.

The navy's MiG-29Ks have arrester gear and stronger landing gear for carrier landings, folding wings and rust-proofing to prevent corrosion from salt water.

The aircraft features a fully digitised glass cockpit, improved engine protection against ingestion of foreign particles like birds, a multi-mode radar and increased range. The contract ensures that the navy gets the entire spectrum of services, including a full mission simulator.

The MiG-29K will provide aerial cover the carrier's battle group, acquire air superiority and destroy sea-borne and ground-based targets with guided high-precision weapons during the day and at night and in any weather conditions.

The aircraft, the first bought by the navy after the Sea Harriers, will also be capable of playing the role of a midair refueller. 

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