The Indian Navy test pilots on May 25, achieved another historic milestone when the MiG-29K made its maiden night landing on the country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. The focus of the Indian Navy has been to make the new aircraft carrier fully ready for air combat before the end of 2023.
Why is this challenging?
According to the official spokesperson of the Indian Navy Commander Vivek Madhwal the night time landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier has demonstrated the skill, professionalism and the resolve of the naval pilots and crew of the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. Adding, this has also shown the navy’s focus and journey towards achieving self reliance or ‘Atmanirbharta’.
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Earlier this year, on February 6, the Indian Navy test pilots successfully landed the Light Combat Aircraft (naval version) and the MiG-29k on board INS Vikrant.
The landing of the MiG-29k during night time is an important achievement as not only does it enhance the combat readiness of the Navy but also marks the successful integration of the aircraft with the indigenous aircraft carrier.
About the INS Vikrant
This is the most complex warship ever built in India which was built by Cochin shipyard Limited and was designed by the Warship Design Bureau of the Indian Navy. Financial Express Online has reported earlier that the indigenous carrier went for its first Sea Trials back in August 2021 and a year later on September 2, 2022, this was commissioned in the Indian Navy as INS Vikrant by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This aircraft carrier can hold up to 30 aircraft – this means around 18 fighter jets and helicopters. Currently there are Advanced Light Helicopters on board and three MiG29K fighter jets.
Since December 2022 the new aircraft carrier has been undertaking Air Certification and Flight Integration Trials with Fixed Wing and Rotary Wing aircraft with the aim of being ‘combat ready’.
According to reports the MiG 29 Ks were inducted in 2010 and the first squadron in the Indian Navy was commissioned in 2013. These were operating from INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier.
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Currently the navy has more than 40 MiG-29ks and these aircraft will operate from the two aircraft carriers the navy has – INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant. This means 18-20 aircraft are expected to operate from each carrier.
The Indian Navy is scouting around for around 26 more fighter jets to operate from the aircraft carrier. The Navy has already submitted its report after two aircraft – the French Rafale (M) and the F-18 Super Hornet of the US completed their trials successfully.