Saturday, December 19, 2009

India’s Navy Ordering More MiG-29Ks

India’s Navy Ordering More MiG-29Ks
Aerospace Daily & Defense Report Dec 04 , 2009 , p. 12
Neelam Mathews

India’s navy has decided to order 29 additional MiG-29K aircraft, Adm. Nirmal Verma says.

The Phase Two purchase will come under an options clause of a previous order of 16 of the aircraft that will delivered soon. That would bring the total number of MiG-29Ks ordered to 45.

Aerospace Daily spoke to Verma recently during his first news conference after becoming Chief of Naval Staff.

The first four of the aircraft from the initial 16 ordered will be delivered by the end of this year, Verma confirmed. Two of the aircraft will be trainers and the other two single seaters. They are for the controversial Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier.

Some aircraft parts have already started to arrive, with assembly expected by the end of January 2010. Delivery of the rest will be made by 2011.

Virtually all trials have been completed, with the last trial conducted Dec. 2. Firing trials are over, Verma said.

Twelve of the first 16 fighters will be single-seat ‘K’ variants, and the other four twin-seater ‘KUB’ trainer versions. Similarly, four of the next batch of 29 will be ‘KUB’ trainer versions.

The MiG-29Ks are to operate from the 44,570-ton Gorshkov, renamed Vikramaditya, which has become caught in a financial web of uncertainty and political wrangling. Verma acknowledged that work on the carrier is behind schedule, but is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.

Meanwhile, with the naval version of the Light Combat Aircraft earmarked for the indigenous aircraft carrier likely to be delayed, a Request for Information had gone out to Boeing and Rafale. DRDO has indicated that compatibility trials of the naval LCA would be held in 2013, Verma said.

“It will be wise to look at options [for future aircraft carriers]. We have been interacting with the companies [OEMs],” Verma said.

The navy also expects to soon issue a request for proposals for six Medium Range Maritime surveillance aircraft. “Helicopters too, are our top procurement priority,” Verma said.

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