Sunday, 12 May 2013

Indian Navy commissions first MiG-29K squadron




Fighters will operate from aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, expected to be delivered by Russia later this year






by Ajai Shukla
INS Hansa, Goa
Business Standard, 12th May 13

With China conspicuously challenging India’s regional pre-eminence in aircraft carrier operations, the Indian Navy got a massive boost today with the commissioning of its first squadron of MiG-29K naval fighters.


Indian Naval Air Squadron 303 (INAS 303), nicknamed the Black Panthers, will operate 16 single-seat MiG-29K fighters, and four twin-seat MiG-29KUB aircraft. The twin-seat version is primarily meant for training pilots, but it also carries weapons and can be used in combat.

The Black Panther squadron, which Defence Minister A K Antony inaugurated today at the naval air base, INS Hansa in Goa, will operate from the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (formerly the Admiral Gorshkov), which Russia is expected to finally deliver by December after four years of delay.

The Vikramaditya will operate from a giant new base that the navy is building for its western fleet at Karwar, just south of Goa. In developing the procedures and systems for operating the MiG-29K from the Vikramaditya — both new elements — the Navy will be drawing on half a century of invaluable experience in operating aircraft carriers.

Second squadron

A second squadron of MiG-29K fighters still remains to be delivered by Russia, which was earmarked for the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-1) that Cochin Shipyards is expected to deliver by 2015. Today, the defence minister announced that the sea launch of IAC-1— which will be christened INS Vikrant — will take place in August this year. The Vikrant, which is also expected to field a squadron of the indigenous Naval Tejas fighter, will operate from the eastern coast of India.

The Navy currently makes do with a handful of obsolescent Sea Harrier fighters that are based on the INS Viraat, an aircraft carrier that served 25 years in the UK’s Royal Navy before completing another 25 in the Indian Navy. Graduating to flying the MiG-29K off the INS Vikramaditya would take the Navy into “an entirely different league”, says Admiral (Retd) Sureesh Mehta, a naval aviator who went on to head the Navy.

“The MiG-29K is heavier and faster than the Harrier and carries more weaponry. Its twin ‘marine-ised’ RD-33MK engines resist corrosion from the salty sea spray, and it goes up to twice the speed of sound (Mach-2). It operates at ranges that the Sea Harrier could not dream of, thanks to the MiG-29’s large fuel capacity and its capability to be refuelled mid-air,” says Mehta.

So potent are the new fighter’s range and weaponry that the Navy is modifying its doctrine for aircraft carrier operations. The Sea Harrier was able to defend the fleet from enemy aircraft, but its ability to attack ground targets was limited and it carried no anti-ship missiles, which had to be fired from the mother ship, the Viraat. In contrast, the MiG-29 can carry a mix of weaponry — two air-to-air missiles for shooting down enemy fighters, and also two potent Kh-35 anti-ship missiles. This will allow the Vikramaditya to launch MiG-29Ks to destroy enemy warships that are many hundred kilometres away.

“This is as good as any carrier-launched aircraft anywhere in the world,” says Captain Ajay Daniel Theophilus, the first commander of the Black Panthers.

Russia developed the MiG-29K according to design specifications that the Indian Navy developed for itself a decade ago. “Our concept proved so successful that the Russian Navy is also planning to induct the MiG-29K into its fleet,” says former naval chief Admiral Arun Prakash, himself a decorated fighter pilot.

15 comments:

Sainul said...

Is it a total 16 comprising 12 Mig29ks and four Mig29KUB trainers?

www.aeoraw.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

>>>The Sea Harrier was able to defend the fleet from enemy aircraft, but its ability to attack ground targets was limited and it carried no anti-ship missiles, which had to be fired from the mother ship, the Viraat. In contrast, the MiG-29 can carry a mix of weaponry — two air-to-air missiles for shooting down enemy fighters, and also two potent Kh-35 anti-ship missiles. This will allow the Vikramaditya to launch MiG-29Ks to destroy enemy warships that are many hundred kilometres away.


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Shukla ji, that is wrong. The Sea Harrier carried the Sea Eagle missile. INS Viraat does not carry any AShMs of its own.



Prahaar said...

Sea Harrier could fire Anti-Ship missiles.

Unknown said...

Sir,
I think the sea harrier's did carry SEA EAGLE anti ship missiles procured from britain , having said that MIG -29K represents a great leap forward for the IN but it also reflects a faulty and unwise decision in the sense that it will have to reckon with F-35 B in near future which will be miles ahead of it and we could have gone for F-35B for vikrant ( being built at kochi shipyard) atleast even if ruskies had insisted upon MiG-29k for vikramaditya. GOI must be nuts to buy 45 of these and should have just brought enough for vikramaditya and left it at that and moved on to F-35 B/C to take on the chinese threats of future

Anonymous said...

What about Tejas Naval version? Maybe another 20 years before we see a functioning prototype?

Anonymous said...

can we induct few squadrons of mig29k in air force as it seems rafale deal will won't go through.

Prasanna said...

I wonder whether our Harriers carried sea eagle missiles?????

Anonymous said...

Ajay, there's an error in the delivery date of IAC1/Vikrant. It is not 2015, rather its 2018 and more like 2020.

Rahul(Kolkata) said...

Ajai,

We are getting different reports from different media about the commissioning date of IAC 1. We were told by some media that there has been further delays and it will not be availaible before 2018 and here you are saying that the commissioning date will be 2015, which was the date before the lateste delays...

If you have any info on it, plz share....

Anonymous said...

The article states that the harrier could not carry anti-ship missiles and they had to be fired from the mother ship. As far as I know the Harriers could carry the Sea Eagle Missile. And the parent ship Viraat ot earlier the Vikrant were never equipped with anti-ship missiles.

Anonymous said...

Any plans to equip 29K with air launched Brahmos? >:)

Sohamn said...

Sea harriers could fire sea eagle AshMs and there are many pics available that depicts so. Sea Harriers could also carry unguided bombs and rockets as well. In fact Sea Harrier is a better A2G and A2S platform that it is a A2A platform.

Bhanja said...

Here's a Sea Harrier with a Sea Eagle on display -- but not attached to it it must be admitted.

http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/NAVY/Images/Harrier13.jpg

Anonymous said...

Black Panther. Hmm, I thought Navy's 31 Patrol Vessel Squadron was called Black Panthers!! So are we coming down to ship speed for aircraft?

I was part of panthers in 1971.

Prranjal Shrivastav said...

Unlike anonymous user (sounds like some desperate American to me) just mentioned, we don't need F35s B,C,D whatever. especially since US is an untrusted ally and they simply luv to slap sanctions on us. MIG29K is a worthy choice for IN. maybe in the coming years a naval FGFA or vertical takeoff capable LCA variant might add power to IN fleet. we have better options than Falcons especially since Sukhois are technologically years ahead of the whole lot of F series. American hardware is simply overrated by their Discovery-National Geographic channels for obvious reasons. MIG series on the other hand is a highly capable platform too. Rafale too like American fighters is simply overrated even before being used in any battle or even before being inducted in any squadron. the Italian hand in our governance is the real reason behind prioritizing American-French technology over tested-proved-trusted superior Russian technological might. we Indians shud believe in our instincts and capabilities in making the right decisions for ourselves rather than allowing foreigners to make choices for us.