The Indian Navy has commissioned its first MiG-29K/KUB all-weather carrier-based multirole fighter aircraft squadron at an airbase in Dabolim, Goa, a MiG spokesperson in India has announced.
The squadron, also known as Indian Naval Air Squadron 303 (INAS 303), will initially consist a total of 16 aircraft, including 12 single-seat MiG-29K aircraft and four two-seat MiG-29KUB aircraft, as reported by Press Trust of India (PTI).
The Indian Navy received the aircraft in 2009 from Russia under a contract awarded in 2004, and since then the aircraft have been undergoing rigorous trials.
Dubbed Black Panther, the squadron will operate from the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, which is expected to be commissioned later this year.
Indian defence minister AK Antony said the INAS 303 would be commanded by captain AD Theophilus and is expected to enhance peace and stability in area of operations for the Indian Navy.
Weapons equipped on the MiG-29K include RVV-AE and R-73E air-to-air missiles, Kh-31A and Kh-35E anti-ship missiles, Kh-31P anti-radar missiles, as well as other weapons such as guided aerial bombs, rockets and aerial bombs.
A naval version of the MiG-29 land-based fighter, MiG-29K is powered by two RD-33MK engines equipped with smokeless combustion chamber and a new full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system.
INS Vikramaditya has successfully completed engine repairs at Russia's Sevmash shipyard and is scheduled to undergo further sea trials in June.
Capable of cruising at a speed of 32k, the aircraft carrier has a range of more than 4,000nm and is armed with Hurricane medium-range air defence missile system, eight SS-NX-26 Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles, a new 130mm gun mount system and a Medvedka-2 ASW system.
Image: A MiG-29K fighter aircraft conducting mission. Photo: courtesy of Anatoly.