The Indian Navy has formally inducted the MiG-29K into operational service.
February 19: The Indian Navy formally inducted the MiG-29K into operational service with a ceremony held at INS Hansa near Vasco da Gama in Goa for the activation of Indian Naval Air Squadron 303, the ‘Black Panthers’.
A small air display was held including a fly-past consisting of a Sea Harrier, Ilyushin-38 (Sea Dragon), Chetak, Kiran and Dornier, with the Sagar Pawan aerobatic team also performing.
Despite the similarity between the Indian Air Force’s MiG-29 and the Navy’s MiG-29K, the new ‘K is a fourth-generation jet equipped with Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles, guided anti-ship missiles, ‘smart’ guided-bombs and rockets. The pilot also has a helmet-mounted sight for off-bore missile firing.
It was revealed a year ago that the first four MiG-29Ks had been handed over and that pilot training had commenced in Russia. Deliveries to India began on December 4, 2009 and the fighters will be deployed on the Russian-built aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, to be renamed INS Vikramaditya when the ship is ready for service in 2012.
India will eventually receive 16 MiG-29Ks with four being the two-seat UB version, but is considering buying another 30 aircraft in a $1.2 billion deal to replace its ageing Sea Harrier fleet.