The Indian Navy's newly inducted aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya has now been operationally deployed, together with its integral MiG 29K combat aircraft fleet, navy chief admiral Robin Dhowan has confirmed.
"The navy has inducted aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, which is now operationally deployed with MiG- 29K aircraft embarked and being flown by Indian naval pilots," Dhowan said.
The air wing of India's largest aircraft carrier will now comprise 16 MiG-29Ks, including four twin-seat KUB trainer versions, along with six airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) Kamov Ka-31 and Kamov Ka-28 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters. It can also operate Sikorsky Sea King aircraft and Chetak aircraft.
With MiG-29K operations from the carrier deck, including night landings, the carrier's Resistor-E automated air-traffic control system offers pilots with approach, landing and short range navigation assistance.
Commissioned in November 2013, the short-takeoff arrested-recovery (STOBAR) aircraft carrier was procured from Russia for $2.33bn. It is yet to be equipped with weaponry to defend against aerial attacks.
Powered by eight new generation steam boilers, the 44,500t carrier has a length of 284m, a 60m beam and a range of over 7,000nm. It can accommodate a crew of 1,600.
Equipped with sensors and launch and recovery systems, the vessel can cruise at a maximum speed of 32k and is armed with eight SS-NX-26 Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles, a new 130mm gun mount system and Medvedka-2 ASW, in addition to Hurricane medium-range air defence missile systems.
Furthermore, work on India's first indigenously built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is currently underway at Cochin shipyard, with trials scheduled for 2017, followed by an anticipated delivery in late 2018.
Image: INS Vikramaditya during its commissioning in November 2013. Photo: courtesy of the Indian Navy.