Indian Navy chief to seek urgent help from Russia for MiG-29Ks, the only fighter jets on INS Vikramaditya

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New Delhi | Published: November 26, 2018 1:23:46 PM

Increasing the serviceability of the 45 MiG-29K aircraft as well as other pending projects of the Indian Navy are topping the agenda of the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba four day visit to Russia starting today.

Indian Navy chief to seek urgent help from Russia for MiG-29Ks (File photo/ Indian NAVY)

Increasing the serviceability of the 45 MiG-29K aircraft, the only fighters on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, as well as other pending projects of the Indian Navy are topping the agenda of the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba four day visit to Russia starting today. Senior Naval officers confirmed to FE that, “The serviceability of the MiG-29 from the present 60 % to upto 80 % or more and there is an urgent requirement to meet with the agencies in an effort to expedite the process. There are issues related to the landing of the aircraft on the carrier and due to the heavy landing regular maintenance is required to address the wear and tear issues.” The Navy chief will be meeting with the Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG and discuss maintenance related issues with them which includes problems in the airframes, engines as well as other systems onboard.

State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is the nodal body which is expected to overhaul the engines as well as carry out any other urgent structural changes of these MiG-29k aircraft.As has been reported by FE earlier, the Indian Navy is urgently trying to acquire 57 multi-role fighters for its aircraft carrier to replace the existing fleet for the MiG-29K. “Since the procurement process is long, we need to ensure that the existing fleet of MiG-29K is in operational readiness,” a naval officer explained.

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Global aerospace giants including Boeing Company with its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet; the French Dassault Aviation’s Rafale M, Swedish Saab with Gripen Maritime and Russia‘s MiG-29K, have already expressed their interest in response to request for information issued by the MoD. Presently, India is the second biggest operator with almost 110 MiG-29s flying with both the Indian Navy as well as the Indian Air Force (IAF)—as the air defence fighter.

The fleet of the IAF is already going through upgrades which are India specific at the HAL facility and Electronic Warfare suite which has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

In the recent weeks, the government has cleared several major deals with Russia including the latest frigates. The deal for the Grigorovich-class ‘Project 1135.6’ frigates, between Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) and the Russia’s state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport has been inked last week in New Delhi, as has been reported by FE earlier. The deal is worth $ one billion for two frigates which will be built at Russian Yantar shipyard at Kaliningrad.

Besides meeting with top military officials including General VV Gerasimov, Chief of General Staff and First Deputy Defence Minister of Russia, the Navy chief will also be meeting with representatives of Rosboronexports as well as other agencies who are participating in various projects related to the Indian Navy. With the aim of further deepening military engagements with Russia, the Navy chief will hold wide-ranging talks with his Russian counterpart, Admiral Vladimir Korolev.

The most critical issue that will beon the table for discussion includes the rupee-rouble payment route, as the Trump administration has put several Russian firms under sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

As has been reported earlier, “During the annual India-Russia summit which concluded in October, both sides had discussed the possibility of reviving the rupee-rouble route of payments,” sources had told FE.

“Besides visiting the Nakhimov Naval School and Admiralty Shipyard, the chief will also visit the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and deliver a talk on “Indian Navy’s Perspective on Maritime Security”, the official spokesperson of the Indian Navy Capt DK Sharma has been quoted.

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